Chanel Nichols (C ‘21) is a 29–year–old senior. The California native spent a year in beauty school, started as a beauty assistant for three years, and then spent seven more years working tirelessly as a hairstylist—building her clientele while making over six figures. During this time, Chanel was also in community college. The current philosophy, politics, and economics major is passionate about her education and decided that a two–year college wasn't enough for her, which ultimately motivated her to transfer to Penn. But when Chanel moved from California to Philadelphia, she felt that all of her hard work was lost.
“When I moved from California to Philly, I had to give up my entire client base," she says. "Every single review I’d been given was tied back to the salon I worked at in California. When I transferred to [Penn], I looked like a brand new hair stylist—as if I’d just graduated from beauty school."
“To build a good clientele, you have to sit at the salon for seven hours and hope that somebody is going to walk by your door or find your salon on Yelp. I wasn’t ready to do that again, but I had no reviews because I was brand new in Philly. I’d put so much time, money, and education into my career, and none of it mattered,” she says. "There are no reviews of individual stylists on Yelp—all of the reviews are tied to salons, where clients might occasionally mention a stylist's name, but more often don't."
Because of this, Chanel says that many stylists feel as if they’re stuck in one location, as they’re afraid to give up the clientele that they’ve worked so hard to build. In an area like Silicon Valley—where Chanel is from—the cost of living is so high that even if hairstylists want to move somewhere cheaper, they worry that the risks outweigh the reward.
Chanel was determined to combat this problem, but she never had the time until the pandemic hit. When she moved back to California to quarantine, she took the opportunity and started her company MyMARC.
MyMARC is an online review platform for independent stylists, who can build their own profile on the site for clients to leave reviews. “In a way, it is like a LinkedIn for blue–collar workers—whether they’re tattoo artists, aestheticians, or makeup artists—to show that they have a reputation,” Chanel says.
After salons closed due to COVID-19 shutdowns, Chanel expanded upon her initial idea by allowing clients to book at–home hair appointments through the site. She has three stylists on MyMARC as of now, and when each joined the platform, Chanel input their previous reviews. This allows clients to look through individual reviews of the stylists upon booking at–home appointments, so they can choose whom they’re interested in. Her platform allows stylists to bring their reputation with them, no matter where they may go.
MyMARC has only established itself in the Bay Area as of now, but Chanel is hoping to expand in the near future. After graduating in May, she plans to fully devote herself to building the company.
Chanel currently spends her days taking classes remotely and doing whatever behind–the–scenes work is necessary for the company—be it working on the website and social media, finding stylists, marketing, or writing blog posts. If some stylists are unavailable for at–home hair appointments on the weekends, she takes them on herself.
Looking into the future, Chanel anticipates that the pandemic's impact on the beauty industry may last longer than quarantine, leaving MyMARC in a unique position to cater to the changing needs of clients.
“Prior to the pandemic, at–home hair appointments were far less popular. [COVID-19] has made us realize how convenient it is for a stylist to just come to your house," she says. "There’s such a movement towards doing things at home right now. Who even knows if people will go back to the salon once the pandemic is over? Who knows if people will use a platform like mine to book appointments for the rest of their lives? Time will tell."