Slaying the Beauty Industry
Kelly Bonilla and Jade Palomino aren’t just best friends, they’re business partners. This past July, they launched Slay Beauty Pass, a monthly subscription that allows you to indulge in manicures, pedicures, blowouts, and waxing with partnered salons, in Boston.
Kelly and Jade met while working together in Miami at a global non-profit organization advising entrepreneurs helping them to scale their businesses. Working with local entrepreneurs helped them to realize that they could do it too. Kelly and Jade worked together, lived together, and spent most of their time together. So when Kelly had an idea, Jade was the first person she texted.
Kelly and Jade’s company was understaffed which had them working late and under pressure often. They loved to get mani-pedis together after work to destress but the money was adding up and they found the process of trying to book a manicurist inefficient. “Nowadays, there’s an app for everything. It felt so old school having to call the salon and play phone tag and still not be guaranteed availability” Kelly said.
Then in May 2017, Kelly had an idea. She was driving in downtown Miami when she was sitting at a red light. She got on the Class Pass app (another way she and Jade would destress together) to find a work out class and noticed her nails needed to be done. Then she looked in the mirror and saw that her eyebrows needed to be cleaned up yet again. That’s when it hit her. Kelly and Jade had been talking about starting something together and Kelly finally knew what. Why wasn’t there a beauty service version of Class Pass? Jade immediately texted back, “let’s fucking do it”. Kelly laughs about it now wishing she had a screenshot of that text.
The girls launched the Slay Beauty Pass app in Boston back in July with a focused vision. The app currently offers highly repeatable services where the customers prioritize convenience including eyebrow waxing and threading, blowouts, regular and gel manicures, pedicures, and Brazilian waxes. They originally wanted to do all beauty services but Jade knows that some services require trust.
Jade gets Japanese hair straightening treatments for her hair twice a year and goes to the same hairdresser she’s been going to for years. “It requires trust in my stylist and I’m not going to change who I go to” Jade said. On the other hand, Kelly knows that other services just need to get done. Kelly first got her eyebrows done for her first communion when she was seven years old. “My eyebrows are wild. I could probably get them done every week but I do it every two” Kelly quips. Kelly knows that constantly trying to keep up with hairy eyebrows is a point of frustration for many women, especially Hispanic like herself.
Being women of color has helped them authentically tap into the needs of their customers. When looking to onboard new salons they make sure these salons have inclusive services. “Being part Black I am conscious about people knowing how to deal with my hair” Jade explained. As women, they have found that it’s “easier to sell and run this business because it's a personal problem. We’re building this for us too which allows us to have a finger on the pulse on what the customers want” Kelly said.
Earning trust from their customers, Kelly and Jade are building Slay beyond the app and turning it into a beauty brand. The Slay Beauty Pass Website has a blog that is contributed to by a group of diverse women who write candidly often discussing the intersection of ethnicity and beauty with their tips, tricks, and experiences.
Kelly and Jade are also planning to create a program for the salons. Currently, all of the salons that Slay is partnered with are immigrant women-owned. With their expertise in law and business growth, Kelly and Jade are working to create a free program to help the salon owners expand their business. Kelly and Jade want Slay to feel like a trusted friend to everyone helping women feel more confident whether it be by getting a blowout or expanding their business.
Follow Slay on Instagram @Slaybeautypass
Adriana Diaz is an investigative journalist and freelance blogger currently living in Boston. Often seen in her writing, Adriana cares deeply about equality often focusing on women’s issues. However, she enjoys writing about a variety of topics ranging from human trafficking to beauty trends. https://adrianadiazjournalism.com/