As Vive enters Los Angeles, the city of reinvention, the salon booking service is reinventing itself.
Already established in New York and Chicago, Vive’s premiere in Los Angeles on Tuesday represents its first extension to the West Coast and will be a crucial pilot city for a string of recent improvements. Across the three markets, Vive has amassed a network of 300 salons and processed around 50,000 bookings.
“After testing out what worked and what didn’t in the New York market, we rolled out the second version of Vive this summer, so this is why we’re launching in L.A. now with a beautiful and clean Vive for a whole new group of users who can experience the service with a fresh, well-curated start,” said Vive founder and chief executive officer Alanna Gregory, adding, “Vive was actually built to live and thrive in L.A. The programming, idea and overall look and feel of the brand are emulating the L.A. lifestyle.”
Thriving in L.A., however, isn’t just about the look and feel of New York-based Vive’s app. Gregory said that the salon landscape in the city, which is dominated by hairstylists who are independent contractors, is quite different from the salon landscapes in Chicago and New York, where traditional commission salons reign, and Vive must adapt to the structural realities on the ground to succeed.
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“We’ve made adjustments to our technology and will continue to accommodate independent contractors alongside salons,” said Gregory. “We are growing with the changing industry and are learning how the fabric of the labor market is different, and affects the types of products and services we will launch as a company.”
To address issues with its previous iteration, Vive tweaked its system to put more control in users’ hands. Instead of selecting salons for users, it provides them with options of salons they can decide between that have availabilities at their preferred date and time for an appointment. And users will be able to differentiate salons by scouring ratings, reviews and photos.
“We have learned that customer reviews are very important. Customers want to know what other customers think of a place,” said Gregory. “Even though Vive’s stamp of approval is important, the bottom line is that we have learned women want choice when it comes to beauty services, and choice enables empowerment. Reviews are tools for empowerment.”
The pricing model has also been rejiggered at Vive. It’s dropped subscriptions and landed on what Gregory called a punch-card approach. Customers can get three blowouts monthly at a cost of $33 per blowout, five blowouts monthly at a cost of $32 per blowout, and eight blowouts monthly at a cost of $30 per blowout.
“Of course, it’s an adjustment for consumers who had memberships. A lot of people have asked us why we did it. Ultimately, the goal is to cater to the consumer. We had a lot of members who were not utilizing their memberships fully or who wanted to be able to utilize their memberships more, and we never had that capacity,” said Gregory. “This allows us to service a much broader audience.”
Earlier this year, Vive secured $2.3 million in seed financing and brought on board celebrity hairstylist David Babaii as global brand ambassador. Babaii could be a significant asset to assist with raising Vive’s profile in L.A. “We definitely need to leverage him more. He’s incredibly enthusiastic, and he’s helped us in getting really key salons on board,” said Gregory.
Vive specializes in last-minute blowout appointments, but Gregory suggested expanding the menu of beauty services it offers is a goal. She mentioned that makeup, waxing and facials are under consideration. “Right now, we are looking at a suite of services and thinking about what is consistent with our values to provide a convenient, delightful way for women to live beautifully, and to connect stylists and customers together for beauty,” said Gregory. In terms of geographic expansion, Vive has Dallas and Miami in its sights.