INDIANAPOLIS, Ind.—When Janell Shaffer’s hair stylist left for another salon, Shaffer didn’t have a replacement in mind. The Kelley School of Business Indianapolis graduate (BS ’95) rarely made a buying decision without consulting reviews, but couldn’t seem to find any for hair stylists.
“I went online and there were no good lists of salons,” Shaffer remembered. “The closest I could find were yellow pages, an alphabetical directory. You have no idea what the stylist’s work is, what their price is, what their salon looks like, if they’re a fit for you.”
That dead end inspired Carmel native Shaffer to create MyBestFriendsHair.com, an online database that works like an Angie’s List for hair salons, complete with consumer reviews, price ranges and photos. In 2011 then-technology strategy consultant Shaffer took the website from hobby to career when she and business partner Danielle McDowell left the Indianapolis tech firm where they both worked, to took on the website full time.
“From where we started with the original idea to where we are today it has really transformed,” said Shaffer. “We have some exciting things coming up, the next six months are definitely going to be a real exciting time for other technologies we’re going to be offering.”
The website is also cut out for hair stylists who can promote their work with paid profiles, links to their home pages and social media sites as well as an iPad app in which stylist can save photos and information on their clients.
"Stylists have long said that their best source of clients is referrals,” explained Shaffer. “We wanted to take the power of referrals and put that word of mouth online.”
My Best Friend’s Hair has expanded to include salon listings in all 50 states. The company, managed by a team of six women including Shaffer and McDowell, will soon announce a partnership within the beauty industry.
“It’s incredible,” said Shaffer. “We are so blessed to be doing this and to have the support of our families and the investors here in Indianapolis that believe in us.”