When Jihan Thompson and Jennifer Lambert met in the 4th grade they had no idea their friendship would turn into a business partnership. But when they realized they were both serious about changing careers (Lambert was a corporate lawyer and Thompson was a magazine editor) and making women of color lives a little easier through technology, it was a done deal.
If you haven’t heard of Swivel, you’re missing out. Put simply, it’s a hair care booking app that connects women of color with salons that know how to care for textured hair. Just download the app and search for top-rated salons and stylists by your hair type and desired style. Currently, the services are only available in the New York area (Washington DC and Chicago are coming soon), but the duo says they receive emails on a regular basis asking for the service in their city.
“I get inspired by hearing positive feedback that our work is helping people,” Lambert tells ESSENCE. “We really are eliminating the struggle.”
Helping people has also garnered a bit of success for the ladies. Last fall hair guru Anthony Dickey came in as a strategic adviser, and in April Swivel was a part of Sephora’s Accelerate 2017 cohort, a program dedicated to building a community of innovative female founders in beauty. But any new business has its share of lessons, and Thompson is quick to say they don’t have a secret sauce. “With any business, there’s a hustle involved in finding customers,” says Thompson. “Marketing is real and understanding it, studying it and having a plan for it is super important. It gets overlooked a lot when people spend so much [time] on the product and forget that you’re a sales person now.”
Through it all, the duo continues to be inspired by other women entrepreneurs who’ve come before them. So what’s their biggest advice for budding entrepreneurs? “Understand that self-care is just as important as your business,” says Thompson. Starting a business is stressful, but making sure you have a healthy lifestyle is just as important.”