Think of eSalon as a trip to the salon in a box. The Culver City, California, startup ships packages of custom hair color and other styling products by mail anywhere in the U.S.
The concept is similar to Madison Reed, which also ships professional hair dye anywhere in the U.S. and sends a colorist to your door to do the job for you if you live in San Francisco. eSalon doesn’t ship colorists, just the dye, but says it is the only startup to customize made-to-order at-home hair color to your specific locks.
eSalon founders Francisco Gimenez, Cory Rosenberg and Tamim and Omar Mourad hail from the successful Web 1.0 price comparison site Pricegrabber.com, which sold to Experian in 2005 for $485 million. The team poured $11 million of their winnings from that sale into the beauty startup in 2008 and have yet to take any VC funding. According to eSalon, the startup pulled in $17 million in revenue in 2014 and is expected to make north of $30 million by the end of this year.
Those interested in the DIY experience go through a series of survey questions to help eSalon determine the right color match and suggest similar tones that might work before shipping a box. I have naturally ruddy-tinged brown hair, but I’ve dyed it a darker, ash brown on top and painted highlights on the ends. That means touch-ups on the top every four to six weeks as my hair grows out.
eSalon suggested a few similar dark brown colors for my roots and enabled me to pick the one I thought would work best. A professional colorist then compared my idea of the right look (I picked something with more gold tones in it) for my skin tone and current hair color with a selfie I uploaded to the site. From this, eSalon was able to whip together the perfect natural dark brown color match (fewer gold tones than what I thought I would need) to allow me to dye my roots at home.
Each kit is $19.95 – compare that to the $7.99 to $9.99 retail price for at-home hair color kits from the convenience store or around $100 to get a closer color from a professional in the beauty parlor.
eSalon ships the matching hair color, developer, color-safe shampoo and conditioner, non-latex gloves, stain guard and stain remover. The platform upsells additional products that can be added to your order, such as a super-stylin’ puffy shower cap to keep your do fresh or a professional hair color toolkit, complete with clips, hair painting brush, bowl and timer.
eSalon has shipped more than 2 million “Made for You” hair color orders since its official launch in 2010 and created 118,630 hair color formulations in its factory.
We went to visit the eSalon factory to check out the automated robots and inner workings of this unique hair color startup during a recent trip to the Los Angeles area. Check out the video above to see our interview with Gimenez and get a behind-the-scenes look at how it all gets made.