Last week Sports Illustrated dropped its much anticipated annual swimsuit edition. All week long news stations and entertainment shows alike, fixated on the beauty and barely there swimsuits featured on the twenty four models. It was yet another reminder of the pressures put on the average woman when it comes to beauty standards. Unlike Chrissy Teigen, model and wife of singer John Legend, us normal women do not have a team of beauty professionals at our beck and call. So just how do we keep up with such unrealistic beauty standards?
Anna Santeramo, Co-Founder of StyleBee is a woman all too familiar with managing the demands of a busy career with a personal deisre to look and feel good. Before Anna co-founded StyleBee she was a corporate attorney in New York and Los Angeles. Spending 16 hours in the office but still being expected to look like a million bucks was a daily challenge Anna faced. From this dilemma StyleBee was born!
TEW: As a young girl growing up what career aspirations did you have?
Anna: I never had a specific profession in mind when I was growing up. All I wanted was to preoccupy myself with something that was intellectually challenging since I tend to get bored when things are within my comfort zone. I also wanted to be able to make decisions that have a real impact on people. I have always disliked administrative or bureaucratic jobs that involve following procedures and “pushing paper” around. Flexibility was another important factor with respect to my personal life. Family is very important to me and subconsciously I have always wanted to build one.
TEW: What made you move to the USA and why did you choose to launch your business in San Francisco?
Anna: LOVE. I moved to the USA because I met my husband in London and unfortunately Europe doesn’t offer many professional opportunities. I moved to San Francisco because this is the best place to launch a technology company.
TEW: What is StyleBee and where did you get the inspiration to launch your business?
Anna: StyleBee is a mobile beauty services platform that helps women get hair and makeup done in the convenience of their home, office, or hotel at affordable prices. Services are available anytime, anywhere in San Francisco and Los Angeles. Stylebee also empowers beauty professionals to make a living doing what they love best, beauty and their art.
The inspiration came to me from my personal background in Italy and my busy life as a corporate attorney in the US. In Southern Italy, women get their hair done at the end of the week. My mom has a standing weekly appointment and my grandmother did too until a few weeks before she passed away. Appearances and beauty in general matter in Italy more so than in other cultures and I was raised with that awareness. We are surrounded by beautiful architecture, beautiful churches and people, who make an effort to look good.
I totally subscribe to these principles concerning beauty when it comes to my personal life. When I was a lawyer, I had no time to take care of myself and yet I felt the pressure to look polished and comfortable in my skin even with 16 hours spent at the office. That’s how StyleBee started. Getting beauty services at home is now either too expensive or impossible. We make this affordable and possible by curating a list of beauty artists who are on time, skilled at what they do, friendly, and affordable.
TEW: Tell us about your interest in technology and beauty. What technological voids does StyleBee address in the beauty industry?
Anna: StyleBee makes it easy for women to look and feel good. Doing that nowadays is not an indulgence but a necessity. More and more women now than ever work and have kids. Society’s expectations of women are being shaped by celebrities and models who have financial and time advantages over the everyday woman. That’s where StyleBee steps in.
It makes it possible for a woman with a career and kids to look polished for work, attractive for her husband without taking time away from her kids. Time is a luxury and should be spent on very important things like kids and family outside of work. We make that possible at an affordable price. This could not be possible without technology.
TEW: How is StyleBee transforming the market for stylists, makeup artists, and masseuses? What further changes can you predict in the next few years?
Anna: Stylebee is giving beauty professionals a chance to fulfill their dreams of becoming artists. It is empowering them to make money on their own terms while pursuing other things like being moms, or traveling around the world. In the next few years, more and more beauty professionals will become freelancers and salons will be used only for major services like haircuts and color treatments.
TEW: What is your favorite thing about being an entrepreneur? Your least favorite?
Anna: Best – Flexibility, building something from scratch that wasn’t there before, and learning something new every day
Worst: unpredictability of events
TEW: If an expat woman has a great business idea, what are the three most important steps she needs to take to launch her business.
Anna: Find American/local influencers who believe in you and your idea. Have these people help with the key aspects of building a company, ie. Capital raising and recruiting
TEW: What three things do you like about the USA?
Anna: Dynamism, professional openness, and people willing to give you a chance.
TEW: What three things have you found most different in the US from your home country that have also been difficult to adjust to?
Anna: Relationships are transactional, lack of sense of community, and bad food.
TEW: What are three fun or interesting facts about your home country?
Anna: Italy is one of the most sexist countries for a woman to work. Our society doesn’t value education and our political class is unlike other European countries – it is not well educated and doesn’t respect and reward education. On a separate note we have the best food ever!
TEW: What is your favorite quote?
“When you grow up you, tend to get told that the world is the way it is and your life is just to live your life inside the world, try not to bash into the walls too much, try to have a nice family, have fun, save a little money. That’s a very limited life. Life can be much broader, once you discover one simple fact, and that is that everything around you that you call life was made up by people that were no smarter than you. And you can change it, you can influence it, you can build your own things that other people can use. Once you learn that, you’ll never be the same again.” – Steve Job
Writing by Anna Santeramo and Martina Trejo
Photographs courtesy of Anna Santeramo