This Founder Shares How She Was Able to Bootstrap Her Way to Success While Giving Back

Patricia Ivancich Dassios raised millions as a philanthropist, but launching a beauty startup with a social good mission has required self-funding.
This Founder Shares How She Was Able to Bootstrap Her Way to Success While Giving Back
Image credit: La Mienne
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After 15 years working in nonprofit fundraising and raising millions for organizations in her hometown of San Francisco, Patricia Ivancich Dassios decided to pursue another long-time passion: beauty. She researched the industry and learned that many of America’s beauty artists were barely making minimum wage for their craft.

La Mienne, the company Dassios founded in 2015, is an on-demand beauty concierge platform whose artists service clients in their homes, at their offices, in their hospital rooms, at events and more. The company empowers its beauty artists by providing them not just well-paying gigs, but educational and networking opportunities to help them build their careers.

Since its launch, the company has grown 15 to 20 percent every month on average (month over month). Dassios attributes La Mienne’s growth to the resources it provides its artists, along with building a strong community.  It offers artists optional complimentary workshops, and by the end of this year, Dassios says the company plans to roll out a digital content library of educational materials, from styling tips to communication and presentation skills.

Related: Why Community, Not Capital, Helped This Founder Find Success

Sometime in 2018, Dassios says the freelancers will be able to run their entire business on the La Mienne platform, which will allow them more autonomy, such as the ability to set their own prices.

Besides providing beauty artists a better wage, Dassios has stayed true to her socially responsible roots of doing good by giving back 25 percent of her revenue in the form of in-kind donations.

But scaling the venture while doing good hasn’t been easy. Despite her fundraising background, pitching a beauty platform to tech investors has been a challenge.

Dassios spoke with Entrepreneur about the community-building that helped her expand her business from an idea on a piece of paper to a platform that’s set to become available nationally later this year.

This conversation has been edited.

What have you learned about growth while doing good?  
Fundraising has been challenging, and I think that falls in line with women and technology in general. I think people invest in their own, in what they see across the table to be a mirror image of them. And so, if I’m talking to a gentleman who’s never had a blowout or a manicure, it might be a little difficult.

You can ask people to donate to a cause that most people are passionate about, and it’s hard for them to say no. But I think when it comes to a venture, there’s much more risk with that. I decided that I wasn’t going to have that as a roadblock, and I was going to self-fund and bootstrap. And now, we’re generating enough revenue that it’s covering our monthly expenses, so we can grow.

What have you learned about culture while doing good?
We’re all about educating, inspiring, empowering through beauty -- both for our clients and for our artists. All of us on our team live and breathe it every day, whether they’re full-time or they’re independent contractors. That’s why we have a high retention rate of our artists and such great loyalty.

We’re building a community. With freelancers, it’s very isolated and fragmented, and it can be competitive. We encourage our artists to network and interact with one another. We have a lot of big corporate events, and we have workshops and things like a holiday celebration with all of our artists. For them to have that feeling of a team, of a community, makes them feel great.

Related: Balancing Act: The Founder of a 'Venture Generator' Shares How He Deals With Focus and Scale

What advice do you have for other businesses looking to do good?
Be true to yourself. I am new in the beauty and technology sector, but I’m not new to doing good. That’s been part of my lifelong passion and career. I brought what was important to me and what I value most about giving back to our community and giving back to our world, empowering people and giving people the tools to make their lives better and their community better. It’s been integral in what I’ve created, and that wasn’t by accident.

Edition: June 2017

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