Two years ago, Iryna Korolenko was sitting in traffic, driving to an appointment at a beauty salon when she had an idea: What if there were an app that would enable customers to have beauty service providers come to their location?
“I’m a busy professional myself,” said Korolenko, a Los Altos resident. “I also have been doing modeling since 16. Just like any busy woman, I just want to take care of myself.”
Today, Korolenko runs the iSalon app, a mobile platform that provides beauty services on-demand. The app allows for freelance beauty service providers whose work includes personal care, hair styling, makeup, nails and massages – services that might be offered at a standard brick-and-mortar beauty salon – to create profiles and make themselves available to come to a customer’s preferred location.
The app is active in the Bay Area, New York and Los Angeles. According to Korolenko, there are approximately 200 service providers who use iSalon nationwide and an estimated 10 in Los Altos.
What sets iSalon apart from other apps that offer similar services is the variety of services, Korolenko said.
Originally from Ukraine, Korolenko has a business background in procurement. When she first launched the app, it took time to establish an image and build trust with customers. She collaborated with schools such as the National Holistic Institute’s massage school, marketing the app internally to graduates who might be interested in joining. Korolenko said she is selective about the professionals who are allowed to have profiles on iSalon, requesting certificates and doing background checks in addition to reviewing their portfolios.
Yanina Miller, who provides makeup services through the app, said it allows her to be flexible with her schedule. Miller also teaches makeup classes at the College of Marin.
“I believe the app is helpful because it helps to connect residential people who wouldn’t necessarily go to high-end services,” Miller said. “It’s easy to access professional services for everyday men and women.”
The app is marketed toward two different consumer desires, according to Korolenko. Some customers prefer convenience, and the app allows them to have easy access to booking. Others are more particular about the kind of stylist they want, so they can use a filter to select specific service providers and see reviews that other customers have left.
With the COVID-19 pandemic affecting many beauty salons and their ability to remain open, iSalon has been booming during this time. According to Korolenko, the number of app downloads has doubled since the pandemic began. Although she had to shut down services through the app as individual counties were ordered to close personal-care services, she found it easier to adapt with a mobile app salon business compared to a regular salon’s struggles. Nothing has changed other than implementing stricter health regulations and communicating them to the massage therapists.
“It’s just the right time for this business to really go up and be seen and recognized,” Korolenko said. “When the quarantine took place, can you imagine if we didn’t have home delivery services like Amazon? It would be really, really challenging. It’s the same with this industry – iSalon being able to be adaptive to the environment and still be able to help people get access to their services.”
To download the iSalon app, visit apps.apple.com/us/app/isalon-beauty-app/id1305645161.