The Influencers

Melody McCloskey

11. Melody McCloskey

Melody McCloskey, 31, is somewhat of an anomaly in the beauty industry. In 2011, she co-founded StyleSeat, an online outlet for beauty professionals and their clients. The company was inspired by her love for technology and computer science. Today, StyleSeat is proof that style and technology are kindred spirits.

What’s something you wish you would have known as a young professional?

When I was in college thinking a lot about the type of work I wanted to do after graduating, I didn’t think tech was an option because I wasn’t a software engineer. Now that tech is so pervasive in everything we do, it’s more obvious that you can contribute outside of software engineering, but I closed that door before giving myself a chance.

I wish I was less of a perfectionist. Early in the business I wanted everything to be done perfectly and that really slowed us down. In those early stages when you’re learning so much and things change so quickly, “good enough” works and you can refine as you go. I think we could have moved a lot faster if I’d loosened up a little.

In the four years before your foray in entrepreneurism, what were some of your most valuable experiences?

Working with software engineers at Current TV gave me exposure to how product is created, which was amazing, thrilling and a lot of work. Living in San Francisco, I met some pretty amazing and talented people who work their faces off and built incredible companies and products. That was definitely inspiring.

When did the idea for StyleSeat became more than just an idea?

Well, I quit my job without having any funding or other income so things got real pretty quickly. At the time I lived in a 10’x10 ‘square foot room in an apartment with three other people and no experience starting a company. My parents were not thrilled.

What strengths has StyleSeat brought out in you?

Resiliency! That’s the biggest thing I’ve learned about myself so far. Tristan Walker said this to me recently and it’s so true: “As a founder you’ll feel the highest highs and the lowest lows all in one day, and as the CEO you can’t really share that with anyone.” It’s been an emotional and really physical journey (there’s some thing I call the fundraising 15 lbs., which is real). But we survived it, we’re here and the company has far surpassed my expectations.

What kind of future to you want for yourself and for StyleSeat?

I want us to be the platform that empowers all beauty professionals to thrive, and the ultimate resource for consumers to look and feel their best every day.

Do you have a philosophy in life—personally or professionally?

Fulfillment is a word we talk about a lot. We want our stylists to feel fulfilled and for their business to grow. We want clients to always look and feel their best with our product, and I obsess about the fulfillment of our employees so they can do their best work. If we want to be important, we have to embody a deeper meaning and happiness, so it’s something we strive for every day.

Who are the women who inspire you most?

My mother! She’s an artist and an extremely beautiful, nurturing person. Padmasree Warrior is also a good friend and mentor. She has taught me a great deal about business and staying true to yourself and your values as things get bigger and crazier.

Text by Kyle Thornburg
Photograph by Mark Squires