Note: This is the first in a three part blog series, on Corporate and Start Up life. I first met Princess when we both interned at Goldman Sachs in 2014, in the same team. Our paths then crossed again when we interned at Barclays a year later. From the beginning, we just clicked, we’re both easy going, love to have a laugh and I admire her work ethic. A few months ago, I was going through my LinkedIn when I saw an article about her business Tress Free, with her picture. When I googled her name, several articles came up.  I was sooo overjoyed, I sent the link to anyone I could think of with the caption “I know that girl!!!” Seeing someone that I had worked alongside pursuing her dream made me feel warm all over, but I wasn’t surprised.  If you spend enough time with Princess, you’ll find that she is extremely ambitious, driven and determined.

Princess is not only the founder of Tress Free, but she also holds down a full time job in Deal advisory at KPMG. “Tress Free is an online platform where you can book hair and beauty appointments with Afro Caribbean hairstylists and beauticians”, Princess explains. The website puts the power in the hands of the consumer, enabling them to search for exactly the style they would like and then they can filter again to find the time and location convenient for them.  Visitors to the site will be able to compare reviews, prices and because they’ll be able to see pictures of the stylists/ beauticians work, they can also compare quality, which will give them greater confidence in their bookings.

“When speaking to Princess about how she came up with the idea, she recalls a particular situation… “I had a hair appointment for braids, and the lady cancelled last minute.  After that, I had to ask friends if they could recommend me someone, look through Instagram pages etc., and I remember thinking it shouldn’t be this hard to find another hairdresser.  I started to think about how great it would be if there was one centralised platform where I could search for a particular hairstyle, see picture examples and find a hairdresser not far from where I live.  After doing some research, I realised there wasn’t a booking platform that catered to the Afro Caribbean woman, and I felt confident I could offer this.”

Since launching in August, the website has managed to get over 60 hairdressers on-board , and in a few weeks, (January 7th to be exact) Tress Free will be holding its first event, Tress Free Live, an interactive hair and beauty event (see the ticket link at the bottom of this post). How Princess is able to balance a full time job AND her start up is something I’ve been dying to ask about,

“It’s been tough, especially trying to balance a busy social life alongside it, but I’m passionate about hair and beauty so it doesn’t feel like work”, Princess admits. “I get these bursts of energy and desire to be productive, but it can be hard because when you’re a business owner you are only accountable to yourself. It’s not like at work when you have a manager chasing you to meet deadlines.”

Princess is fortunate however to have a project based job, giving her the flexibility to take an hour here and there to do things for her business.  This enables her to prioritise what is important alongside making the most of little things such as scheduling tweets which can help save time. In the process of setting up Tress Free, Princess has learnt several lessons. The importance of not comparing yourself to others has been a main one.

“You have  Pret, Starbucks, and all these other coffee shops. None of them are going out of business, they’re all making money. There can be more than one of something, it’s about focusing on what you bring to the table, how is your idea different?.” Perseverance is also key.

“You have to start from somewhere, so don’t be stressed if you’re not an overnight success.”

Princess encourages everyone with an idea to just go for it, “you have nothing to lose, do it before someone else does”, she emphasises. Finding the perfect balance between work, your social life and  your business is also important, even it means sacrificing sleep here and there, Princess mentions. More market research is something that Princess admits she had also spent more time on and advises others to invest time here. Looking to the future, Princess has high aspirations for Tress Free. “I want Tress Free to be number one not just in the UK but also Europe and Africa.  Not only do I want Tress Free to be a well-known platform, but I also want it to be respected.” Princess wants Tress Free to be a platform that also uplifts the hairdressers and beauticians who are featured on there, showcasing their talent. I can’t wait to see where Princess takes Tress Free in 2017 and beyond!

Check out the Tress Free Website

Tress Free on Twitter 

Tress Free On Instagram

Here is the link to the Tress Free Live event.

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