When Bangstyle, the image-based site devoted to hair styling, came onto the scene in 2011, it hoped to fill a hole in online platforms for professionals and styling enthusiasts. As the company releases the third iteration of its app next week, it marks two years of working to solidify itself as an industry mainstay, a pursuit in which it has in many ways succeeded.
Everyday users know Bangstyle for its wealth of imagery of cuts and updos, and it has been touted as a replacement for the tradition of bringing a torn-out magazine photo to the hair salon. At its core, though, Bangstyle was designed to solve an industry-wide visibility problem by giving professionals a much-needed portfolio platform from which to publicize their work.
Founder Geoff Nelson said he was seeing great work from stylists prior to creating Bangstyle, but they weren’t uploading it because they either didn’t have websites or did have ones that were difficult for them to manage technically. Bangstyle does that and then projects stylists’ work to potential clients nationwide.
Next week’s app updates include more search filters, new photo editing capabilities, curated hair collections updated daily, and a “Stalk” function, the equivalent of “following” on any other social media site. Nothing groundbreaking, but necessary improvements if Bangstyle wants to remain #1 in the online hair universe.
The app is intended for hair artists on every level, from editorial stylists to those working in salons. It found a key user base in beauty schools, because students are simultaneously looking for work to emulate and need an avenue to find jobs while self-promoting. In professional salons, stylists pull up their Bangstyle profiles so clients can pick a look from their range of work.
The people who are most active are, of course, those who take themselves seriously as a personal brand.
Bangstyle is currently seeing 400-500K monthly actives, with mobile composing 70% of total user interactions. Nelson estimated that professionals make up about 60% of the user base and are averaging between 20 and 30 uploads each.
Nelson has worked hard to make Bangstyle a community destination by feeding into the culture of hairdressing. Because he views hair stylists as artists in essence, rather than trade workers, Bangstyle includes the kind of lifestyle content that would inspire their work. Pin-worthy subjects like food, fashion, photography, and architecture play prominently on the site in articles and images.
Bangstyle also sponsors a weekly competition, called “The Supremes,” in which hairdressers submit images of their work to be judged — yes — by a “Supreme Court.” Winners get their 15 minutes of fame and community-wide publicity. At 1300-2000 submissions weekly, it has become the biggest hair competition worldwide, Nelson said, and is a natural tie-in for promotional mo
The company is currently bootstrapped, and it is monetizing on images sponsored by hair artists, along with an eponymous range of hair products. The point is that sponsored content integrate seamlessly into the user-generated images.netization.
Bangstyle has begun speaking with investors in preparation for a for a $2-5M investment round, although they would not release names.
The site emerged out of a dearth of good hair platforms, and it is making strides to establish itself as the industry standard while the competitors are few. That they only have now added a follow function to the app suggests that Bangstyle may be slow on the tech, so they will have to watch that as they develop the breadth of their community features.