In one corner, there are the ordinary people who look for a hair, nail or salon appointment, only to be frustrated to find no one available. In the other corner are the many freelance make-up and beauty specialists in Ireland who would like to get the word out about what they have to offer. Bringing them all together is a service by the name of Pucker.
It is a convenient online platform, based founded in Ireland by two like minded individuals, including Niamh McHugh, who has spoken of the great benefits that have been brought by working with StartLocal, the renowned incubator program supported by FCR Media.
For instantly and easily finding the ideal expert in nails or hair or a make-up artist at the last minute, there’s no better website (soon to be App) in Ireland than Pucker. But what obstacles have McHugh and her team had to confront so far in bringing the business to this point?
Challenges to overcome
McHugh has admitted that there were “a lot of challenges” for her to deal with at first, particularly given that she did not come from a business background herself – meaning that there was so much new to learn. However, she said that the experience also proved an extremely positive one, exclaiming that she had “never learned so much in all my life.”
The co-founder admitted that she and her business partner Louise Dunne are perfectionists – and not only did she want to make everything perfect, but she was very much the type to want “to see things done yesterday.” Nonetheless, she said that “seeing everything come together is great.”
But what is the biggest challenge awaiting the company over the next three months? Validation, according to McHugh, with “a lot of testing” waiting to be done on the product. Although she is confident that the market is there, with a lot of interest, she has also said that the challenge lies in “improving what we have already” – citing the development of a new booking system that is “different to anything that’s out there at the moment.”
The startup experience has been an educational one
If there’s one lesson that McHugh would give to others contemplating starting their own business, it is to “trust in your gut” and “be confident in your idea… take the leap.” Indeed, she expressed regret that someone had not told her to “just go for it”.
There’s plentiful startup support to be sourced in Ireland, too, she said, claiming that “getting somewhere like StartLocal has been amazing for us.” She even admitted to feeling “overwhelmed by the response from people – any time we reached out, people have agreed to meet.
“Gaining confidence over time has been great, after questioning ourselves at the start. We are now fully aware that this is a great idea and getting validation from people in the industry who love it.” She urged fellow new business owners to not “be afraid to ask a question.”
Why should customers choose Pucker?
McHugh had little trouble answering that question. For one thing, she said, there are no direct competitors in Ireland, although similar things are being done with salons. It all means that McHugh and her team are “creating something that is revolutionizing the way we look at the beauty industry globally”
With surveys showing just how many people are continuing to struggle to book beauty appointments, it’s clear that Pucker will retain and grow a loyal and appreciative clientele on both sides of the freelancer/customer divide for a long time to come.