Patrice’s idea for starting Fussy, a social network for cosmetologists aiming to achieve their professional goals, stems back to her days as a teenager.A solo non-tech founder, she not only single-handedly manages her business, but she also built her website MVP while learning to code in GA’s Front End Web Development course. Follow her on Twitter: @SpeakPatrice.
What were you doing before studying at GA?
Before GA, I was on the prowl for a tech co-founder for Fussy and working a full-time job as a journalist. Oh yeah, I was also struggling with the web development team that I had outsourced overseas to build Fussy’s first two MVPs.
What motivated you to enroll in our Front End Web Development course (FEWD)?
During my tech co-founder search, I met up with a lot of people I knew who were involved in the tech startup space to get some insight on the search process. A good friend of mine had put me in contact with Andrew Frankel, a software engineer who had founded a startup connecting developers with companies. So, I visited him at his team’s WeWork office one day and, long story short, he suggested that I do what someone he knew had done while searching for a tech co-founder: take a FEWD course at GA and ultimately receive tutoring sessions with my TA or instructor and use those lessons to build out my MVP. I had not had a great experience outsourcing abroad and wanted to move quickly and not get slowed down by hiring a freelancer. Those two facts prompted me to take a leap and go for it. I never ended up doing the tutoring sessions, but I did end up building the well-functioning MVP (aka Fussy 1.3) thanks to my learnings.
Tell us about Fussy?
Ever since my teenage years at boarding school, I’ve always had the desire to create an online directory where salon goers could locate and vet stylists specializing in Black hair textures and styles. That was the genesis of Fussy. However, we’re now on the verge of an exciting pivot, which still stems from a need to update processes in the cosmetology industry while taking care to consider a variety of hair textures and regard hair as community and culture.
Tell us about your inspiration behind the service.
As Najah Aziz, a successful Atlanta-based salon owner, once said: “There is not another industry in the world where Black women dominate and can set its rules and regulations.” Through Fussy, we aim to offer hairstylists from all backgrounds entrepreneurial online and offline tools and resources to ‘lean in.’ But again, we’re taking care to include and support cosmetologists who are largely underrepresented in their industry, yet represent the rapidly changing face of the United States population. We provide solutions to pain points within the haircare industry because it is through that industry that Fussy can make a direct impact on African American women’s socioeconomic success and consumer power.
How does your journalism background overlap with your business?
Being a solo founder is far from easy, but I have no doubt that my journalism skills have helped me immensely. Because of my professional background in digital journalism (Shout out to NYU J-School’s Studio 20!), I’m comfortable doing uncomfortable or seemingly difficult things like making cold calls, pitching to anyone and everyone, speaking to complete strangers, listening (which has been crucial for customer development–it led to our recent pivot,) branding, social media marketing, interviewing, taking photos and shooting videos and most importantly WRITING.
What are the next steps for the company?
Our exciting pivot that I mentioned is in the works. We’re aiming to solve a few major pain points for cosmetologists in a very contemporary way. So, basically we’re putting a much greater emphasis on the stylists and her career as opposed to the connection of both salon-goers and stylists.
Any advice for aspiring entrepreneurs?
- Just DO it.
- Read Running Lean and stay super-lean.
- Remember that your startup is not about you at all, but rather your customers and whether they find value in what you’re offering.
Lastly, who is your favorite teacher and why?
At GA? Sebastian was my only teacher but he was very encouraging and supportive. I always felt as if he were in my corner rooting for me.
At graduate school? Zoe Fraade-Blanar for being a kickass, inspiring entrepreneur who makes times for others in her busy schedule…even after they’ve graduated!
Nelson Igunma interviews alumni from around the world as a Success Stories writer for General Assembly.