Giovanni Vaccaro left his family’s restaurant business at age 18 and went straight to cosmetology school.

He says he was the worst beauty student they’d ever seen. After years of learning and hard work, Gio became one of the most well-known and respected beauty professionals in New York. He then parlayed his expertise with his passion for innovation by co-founding the mobile beauty app Glamsquad. For 8 years, this disruptive beauty brand has allowed their clients to get ready in the comfort of their own home with top Glamsquad artists, helping them look and feel their best.

I consider myself an artist. I think we all are artists, intrinsically it's just how we're built.

Gio VaccaroChief Brand Officer, Glamsquad

Transcription

Katie Hankinson (00:00):

Hi, I’m Katie Hankinson and I’m Mickey Cloud. Welcome to building while flying, a Sasha Group podcast, where we interview business leaders about how they tackle challenges, stay resilient and navigate ever changing skies. Welcome to building while flying my guest today is Giovanni Vaccaro or Gio who is co-founder of glamsquad. The on-demand in-home beauty service and beauty product company, a master hair stylist with 15 years of experience. But Gio brings a wealth of artistry, beauty industry knowledge and experience to Glamsquad, where you lead on ideation and formula formulation of all of the Glamsquad hair products, as well as obviously paying a big role in inspiring and developing the glamsquad professional group too. So welcome to the show, Gio.

Gio Vaccaro (00:58):

Katie and great intro. I like that. I don’t know if I can live up to all that, but we’ll see.

Katie Hankinson (01:04):

So, um, we’ll get into the gold things Glamsquad as we chat through. But before we dive into that, um, I first wanted to say, love the brand. We’ve actually used you guys at Vayner. We’re now in the VaynerMedia offices right here, but, uh, for a couple of, uh, holiday parties, um, that’s been like the extra treats

Gio Vaccaro (01:26):

It’s so easy and so obvious. Like we all want to look glam. We don’t want to look beautiful. They don’t feel good. So that’s kind of part of our DNA. So I’m glad you’re enjoying it.

Katie Hankinson (01:35):

Yes, indeed. So before we dive into that, can you tell us a bit about your background? So where, where, what brought you into the role that you’re in today?

Gio Vaccaro (01:45):

Yeah, so, um, I’ve always been inspired and I’m driven by the service business. I grew up my mother and father are both, uh, immigrants from Italy and hence the name Giovanni McKerrow as we spoke about. Um, and my father had an entrepreneurial spirit. He had a very young age, the age of 16. He actually opened up his first pizzeria in, uh, in Westchester, New York. And he still has, uh, uh, quite a few businesses there. And I, so I grew up, uh, in the services business. Um, and I managed one of his restaurants at a super young age. So I’ve always been interested in people and in the hospitality businesses, what I like to call it for myself, the pizza business and the restaurant business wasn’t core to my purpose and core to my heart. And I solely became really, really interested in the psychology behind like consumer behavior and why people do what they do, but also why people buy what they buy.

Gio Vaccaro (02:49):

And that kind of led me into kind of falling in love with the idea of connecting with somebody one-on-one. And that also led me to the idea, doing it behind a chair in a salon. And so I left the pizza business, call it and left school really, really early. And I went straight to cosmetology school. Um, no one understood it. Everyone thought I was crazy. Uh, I probably thought I was a little crazy back then too. I was the worst student they’ve ever seen. I had never touched hair before. Uh, I’m one of three boys, um, that would just wasn’t in the cards for us. And I slowly just like work that becoming an awesome hairstylist by taking around brush, rolling it into my hands, uh, taking scissors and just working on the dexterity of the art. But for me, it was never about the art to be.

Gio Vaccaro (03:37):

I didn’t consider myself an artist. I think we all are artists. Um, intrinsically it’s just how we’re built. But for me it was really about the connection with someone and being able to give a woman or man in my chair, the confidence to do great things in this world by looking and feeling great. And, um, that’s kind of, what’s always been a part of why I love the beauty industry because I believe it’s really, really, really powerful as a stylist, what you have your capabilities and I’ve taken that into the concept and the idea and the DNA of, of glam squad. So hospitality is at our core. We’re taking care of people. Um, I’ve always loved doing it. I still do it today. And whether you’re behind a chair or at Glamsquad walking into someone’s home, you are taking care of them. The art is a part of the experience, but you’re making them feel good. You’re getting to know them and you’re building a connection and a relationship with them. So I think that that works really well with clamps, but also with, I mean, so many businesses out there,

Katie Hankinson (04:41):

All about relationships, right? Yeah. I loved how, you know, right at the heart of that is this idea of like letting, not just making people look beautiful on the surface, but like giving people that sort of innate confidence to kind of move forward in the world. Like there was something

Gio Vaccaro (04:57):

It’s key, it’s key. It’s so key. Um, you realize as a hairstylist, the power that you actually have, it’s pretty magical. Um, and you know, when you built that connection and you, when you built that trust with the customer, especially in the consultation part of it, everyone’s had their hair done before. Whether you go to a Barbara, whether you go to a salon, but when you built that trust and you build that connection, it’s like, it’s powerful. And, um, I just, I’ve always believed in it. I’ve always believed in it. And, uh, the confidence that I’ve seen my clients get from the day they, the minute they walk in and they sit down in my chair and they feel a certain way, and then I create the style and I have the conversation that we have, and it’s, it’s driven in different directions, but it’s always beautiful. And that turns into something that’s really, really powerful when they leave that chair, they feel like they can do better for themselves, better for their families and better in this world. And I, I really believe in that.

Katie Hankinson (05:53):

I think that’s fantastic. So that real cool, you know, it seems that you’ve had a really constant threat, right? From the very beginning, we decided to go into this space of building relationships, perfecting your own artistry and then creating something that would really kind of bring like people’s beauty to the full. So how did that then transitioned to Glamsquad? Talk about how Glamsquad,

Gio Vaccaro (06:17):

Okay. So, um, I was a hairstylist for, at the time, about 12 years and I love the business. I love the business. I love everything about it. Uh, but what I felt was that as, as I evolved as a stylist and as the world has evolved, it’s become so dynamic. This is back in 2013, right? We launched bounce one in 2014, things were moving so fast and now they’re moving in faster today. So the world is dynamic, the, the experiences are different and it was right around the time that Uber was becoming a household name. So the idea of being able to have something when you want it, when you want it immediately. And I felt like the salon industry was antiquated at my salon at the time that one of the best salons in the country, one of the biggest salons in the country, Frederick for Kai, you still have to call to make an appointment that was only eight years ago.

Gio Vaccaro (07:17):

Can you imagine, like calling’s a place to make an appointment that’s today, it’s mind boggling, but that was the case eight years ago. And so, um, w I was thinking about, and I had a, uh, uh, one of my clients who, uh, was a partner of ours and he, we started talking about how do we, how do we change and how do we innovate? How do we disrupt this industry to give women and men what they want, um, faster, more efficient, but still, still with the value of a luxury and, uh, affordability. So why not bring it in the home? And what’s more convenient than bringing it to the customer where meet her, where she is at. And this is at the same time that I would have clients look me in the, uh, in the mirror and say, oh, I love my hair. It looks incredible.

Gio Vaccaro (08:08):

Not only if I can see you tomorrow at 8:00 AM, so you can do this for me before my big meeting or before, you know, my date night, whatever it is. And so I knew that there was like value there. Um, and so that’s what we started building. We said, you know what, we’re just gonna, we’re gonna, we’re gonna build it, we’re gonna sell it. Um, and then we’re going to create demand for it. Uh, and we’re not going to over-engineer it. So the concept was, uh, beauty services in home, all powered through technology, beautiful bringing high-end luxury services at a, what we believe is an affordable price point. So you’re not spending at the time, you could spend a hundred dollars on a blowout, $150 on makeup. Not anymore. You can get glam squad in your home, uh, literally in a couple of hours at the time. And so truly on demand, and you can do it all for at the time. It was $50 and you can have hair, makeup and nails done at the same time, which was kind of unheard of in salons. You’d have a hair salon, and then

Katie Hankinson (09:11):

Down the road, do you have your nails

Gio Vaccaro (09:13):

Done? You go to a makeup counter, and then you go to the nail salon. And we said, no, no, no, let’s make it. Let’s make it so simple and easy for the consumer that she’s just going to fall in love. The big piece of it is you got to make the product perfect. And so that’s really where I put my understanding of, um, high-end luxury beauty services, right? I was at Frederick Buckeye, top salon in the country, uh, and bridging that with an affordable price point, making it convenient for her in the home and make me consistent so that no matter who she’s having in her home, that she’s going to feel like the Glamsquad brand is showing up. And that all boils down to who you’re bringing on board, how you’re training them, um, what your protocols are. So it’s very in-depth, but we started, we started putting it out there and we saw that there was a great response to it, which we kinda knew we had to, it conviction that this was going to be something pretty major.

Katie Hankinson (10:07):

This was back in, this is 2014, right? And New York,

Gio Vaccaro (10:10):

This is 2013 in New York. And we started off with just blowouts. So no haircuts, no, no color, no makeup, no nails. Um, and we started with a super small team, no app. We just wanted to see, is there demand or people would people, would people, do people want this? I knew it, but I had to convince my partners also can kind of convince, you know, others, but we didn’t share it. Uh, we didn’t share, I didn’t share this with family. And that’s one, one of my tips for your, for your people are, if you’ve got, if you’ve got an idea, don’t share it. Um, and I say that not because I think someone’s going to steal it, but more so, because I think people tend to talk you that your loved ones and your friends talk to you out of it all out of fear and out of safety, you’re safe.

Gio Vaccaro (10:55):

You know, people, if I would have told my family about Glamsquad, they would have been like, you’re doing, you’re so successful at, at, at your salon, keep doing what you’re doing. You’ve got a comfortable job. You have benefits, you have all those things and people tend to talk you out of things, um, just out of fear and for, for safety to protect you. And so my, my advice is to not share it, we didn’t, I didn’t share the concept of Glamsquad with any of my friends or any of my family. I would tell them that I’m like working on like a side mission or a side hustle. That was it.

Katie Hankinson (11:26):

I mean, you came to be this the way you described it at a time where in an industry that was ripe for reinvention in a city that is essentially obsessed with efficiency and hustle, where the thought of actually getting something hyper convenient, it’s also luxury on your doorstep in your home is kind of pretty much a no brainer. So pent up demand all seem to grow. And then w you know, that obviously was, uh, you know, back in 2013 and you’ve, you’ve, you’ve run hell for leather since then. How did you then think about scaling a business like that? Yeah,

Gio Vaccaro (12:03):

Well, I think as a business leader, and as a co-founder, you have to think about, do you go wide or do you go, um, narrow and deep? And look, we had so many people and, uh, I would say friends and also clients and, and, and, uh, colleagues who would try and influence us as leaders to, you know, expand, expand, and grow and turn this into a national brand. And you want to be all services, all markets. You want to be everything to all people. And I just, you know, we don’t believe in that at all, actually. Um, we believe in expanding, but expanding thoughtfully and really getting to know you got to get to know your customer and get to know what they want and what their behaviors are. And also getting to know in our case, the experience and our BD professionals, uh it’s. So it’s, it’s intrinsic to the DNA of Glamsquad that’s.

Katie Hankinson (13:07):

So the way the brand has to build over time, it’s two fold. You’ve got to build your customer base, but you also have to build this group of beauty professionals who essentially are your brand. They are the representation of your brand. Talk about how that happened. And maybe some of the challenges is as you sought to build out what that beauty professional group looks like.

Gio Vaccaro (13:29):

Yeah, yeah. It’s it is the brand. Um, it’s the brand, when we show up, it’s the experience. And I always believe that, um, you’re never gonna, going to get a customer to purchase your product or service a second time. Nope. If the product is not good, it doesn’t matter how much marketing you put towards it. They don’t have a good experience. It doesn’t meet their expectations, whether it’s a tangible product or a service, you’re just never, that’s a, that’s a lost customer. Um, and so if you look at it through that lens, then you realize the importance and the value of the experience that’s happening within those four walls, uh, in one hour, right? It’s a one hour service. And so a lot of our effort is put on how to create this amazing hospitable experience for the customer. Who are we bringing on as a beauty professional?

Gio Vaccaro (14:26):

Uh, it’s not just about talent, right? There’s an art and a science to it. Yes. Can you do a great up, can you do great makeup? Awesome. But who, who are you as an individual? Who are you as a person? Um, do you care about people? Uh, are you somebody that we can rely on? Do you have integrity? Meaning are you going to show up on time? Because men glam squad is amazing and it’s magical when everything happens exactly how it’s supposed to happen. We show up on time, you love your hair, you love your makeup. Your pro gives you a little bit of education, a tip, or a trick, and they leave your space, looks incredible. They’re out the door. And now you look in your mirror, you haven’t even had to lift a finger or get up, and your hair looks incredible. Who we bring on our team is part of our culture. And you have to think about it as every person that we bring on is going to either build the brand and build the culture, or it’s going to dilute, um, or destroy the brand and the culture

Katie Hankinson (15:28):

At the Sasha group that you job title may be beauty, professional cosmetologist, or, or even on our side, a marketer or a planner. But your other part of the job is about building your own company culture and building relationship.

Gio Vaccaro (15:44):

Yeah. And I like to think of our pro community more as brand ambassadors because they’re, yes, they have the technical skill and technical capabilities to do to work magic. But at the same time, they are there representing, um, they’re representing a brand when they show up. And that brand is not with them in a brick and mortar space with a manager and with support they’re showing up and they are the brand. They are the person, they’re the spokesperson. They are the one that’s going to give you the experience. So the more that I always say, the two things for me, it’s be obsessed with the customer and win with the BD professional. And if we can do both and we can do it both really, really well. I think the sky is the limit for, for Glamsquad.

Katie Hankinson (16:23):

So you, you were scaling well. And in New York you made the conscious decision to go deep rather than broad and kind of stay focused on the brand. What are some of the challenges that you, you hit hit upon over these years?

Gio Vaccaro (16:40):

No, no line is ever straight ever as a, as a co-founder and as a somebody who owns their own business, um, it’s never straight. You’re always going to deal with challenges are always going to deal with issues. Um, and we’ve seen, uh, we’ve seen our fair share of all of them, uh, early on to, to where we are now. I think the, the, the skies are clear now, which is great, but early on, you know, you’re thinking about a couple of things. If you’re a leader and you’re trying to raise money, who are you raising money from, uh, who are your partners in raising money? Uh, do your investors share the same values, uh, and the same vision as you as a co-founder and as a brand, that’s all super, super important. If I can leave any of your viewers with that, I think your values don’t stop when your values, I should say, should be embedded in every single part of your company, from the way you market to the employees that you bring on to your product, um, to the money that you take in to your super, super important for me early on scaling was always the thing.

Gio Vaccaro (17:54):

How do we scale this business and still maintain? I think a lot of brands go through this, the quality and the consistency that we’re known for right. Glam squad was a disruptor. And I love that word because it’s a real, like, we disrupted the beauty industry, we disrupted salons and right. We like, uh, we fractured it. And so when you do that, then you have to think about, well, we did it because of our values, quality and consistency. Well then how do we continue to build that as we launch in new markets, because we did, as we launch new services, makeup, and nails, and still live the sort of ethos of our brand, and we’ve gotten it wrong, sometimes we’ve definitely gotten it wrong. Um, we tried to move a bit faster. We, we didn’t, we didn’t hold those values true in certain markets in the beginning. And boy did our clients let us know, and it was a blessing. It was a blessing because you would see it in the reviews, you would see it. And in the experiences, you would see it in the community, um, that there was a disconnect between the pro and, uh, the community of clown squat. And so we would learn these things grateful for learning them early on. Then you have to figure out what kind of moves are you going to make to fix?

Katie Hankinson (19:18):

I mean, it’s, it’s this, the blessing and the challenge of hospitality as you describe where you are. So at the frontline of service that yeah. You know, instantly, if something’s not going well, and it becomes very public very immediately, but at the same time, if you’re able to react quickly to that, it can be extremely beneficial, so important. And how do you, you know, as you think about expanding the brand, no doubt, you know, you’re, you’re moving into product, you are starting to think outside of the pure services, um, element of it, although that’s obviously still at the core, how do you maintain some of those elements of the hospitality, the relationship when it becomes down to the product level?

Gio Vaccaro (20:01):

Well, I think you, you have to think about your, your core business should always be your core business. Um, and that doesn’t mean that you don’t move on to other things. I think that that’s really, really important as a co-founder and as a business leader, to know that there’s innovation and there’s more out there for you, but I think that you never want to lose sight of the core. And what I can tell you is that, especially during the COVID has taught me is the importance of core. You know, if you’re working out arms and legs and, uh, shoulders, but you’re not focusing on your abs while you might fall over. And that, that happened to a lot of businesses. And for us, it kind of reminded us the importance of the services business and how important it was Glamsquad, and also to our beauty professional community.

Gio Vaccaro (20:50):

Now, that being said, um, I think that you have to be curious as a brand and you have to, uh, allow the room in this space for curiosity, uh, because once you remove that, then I believe that you don’t have the competitive edge anymore. Um, and without curiosity, you can innovate. So for Glamsquad, it was always about building the connection with the customer and the consumer in the home and building that trust and that loyalty. And once you do that, you can introduce other things to the customer because you’ve built the trust and you’ve built the connection and you’re in that setting and you’re in that setting. Um, but the, but the product line and whatever you decide to offer the consumer has to still have the brand values built into it. And it has to, it has to come from the story of the core, I believe. So

Katie Hankinson (21:47):

Let’s talk specifically about what’s happened in the last 12 to 15 months with the pandemic. You’re obviously in a business, which is hospitality, it’s all about person to person contact essentially. Right. So what was happening in Glamsquad HQ when you were trying to figure out how to, how to tackle a new world order, where, where potentially your people couldn’t get to their customers,

Gio Vaccaro (22:10):

Has it been 15 months? You said

Gio Vaccaro (22:13):

That’s wild. Um, Hey, it, it w it was such a challenging time. Um, just like most businesses. Um, we, we shut down Glamsquad March mid-March of 2020. We reopened it June 22nd in certain markets. And during that time, we knew that we were going to have a lot of beauty professionals not making any money. Um, and so we, as, as leaders had to say, well, how are we going to fix this? Um, cause you can easily say, well, these are just the conditions that we’re facing and good luck, or you can say, what can we do as a company to help you and to support you? Um, some of it might seem really small, but I think some of those small, some of those small movements, um, actually become really, really powerful and show the love and care that we have for our pro community. So what do we do?

Gio Vaccaro (23:21):

Um, number one, we gave them, uh, we shared blinks and access to every, every news thing, everything that was changing so fast, we wanted to make sure that they had, uh, the right links and the right sort of information that was coming out there in the world. So we would share that. That’s the first thing. The second thing is we were very communicative about where Glamsquad was, um, what was happening, what happening internally, and when we were planning on potentially opening up. The third thing is, is that we decided to launch virtual services. So we put our brains together and said in this world of everything just going virtual now, how does what’s Glamsquad role in that? And so we created virtual services, we created a virtual hair services, um, virtual makeup services. And if you’re a customer of Glamsquad and you are still working and you’re taking zoom meetings and you want to look good and you have no idea how to do your hair and makeup, or you want like a little bit of a bootcamp or a 15 minute touch-up, you can now do it on yourself now. So there’s no, there’s no, there’s no promise that you can do it as well as us. That’s that’s not what we’re putting out there, but can we give you a tip or a trick that’s really going to help you? And we did the price. The price for entry for this service was the bar was so low and we used it as a tool to just connect, to stay connected to.

Katie Hankinson (24:50):

I said, yeah, it’s, it’s totally a front of mine opportunities.

Gio Vaccaro (24:54):

Absolutely stay connected to our absolutely. And to stay connected to our pro community and to let them know that we’re thinking about them during this crazy time that we were all facing, um, is very scary for beauty professionals and very scary for anyone who is in the hospitality world of what’s what’s happening next. And you’ve seen restaurants do it so well, especially, I mean, I’m in New York, I would see restaurants that basically shut down and then you see restaurants that said, okay, these are the conditions. This is the environment. How do we adapt? And they have a killer, uh, pick up and take out menu. And now all of a sudden their, their business is booming. Glen squad’s version of that. Um, so it was virtual services and, uh, they’ve done pretty well. And they’ve at least given, um, they were, it was intentional though. It wasn’t about making money. It wasn’t about Glamsquad making money. It was about a connection. It was about letting our pros know that we still value them. And it was our being there for our customer and our clients, even though we couldn’t physically be there for them in their home.

Katie Hankinson (25:55):

And then, um, what about, I mean, one of the things we’ve had time and time again, with our conversations with business leaders and brands across industry is this was such a moment of taking stock and, you know, it was a moment of reckoning, but it’s also an opportunity to think, what do we want to look like when we come out of this? Right. Did, how did that sort of play out when you think about, you know, how you, how you want to hopefully exit, um, this whole experience. I mean, you guys have stayed in business are just phenomenal. You’ve grown, you know, you’re growing other offerings. What else are you?

Gio Vaccaro (26:33):

Yeah, I’m so grateful for it. Um, it was a very scary time. And I would say that when COVID happened as a, as a business, you to look at, uh, what needs to be changed, you have to look under every single stone and say, okay, uh, this is how it was built. Why was it built this way? And can we build it differently? And so you have to look at resources, which Glamsquad did. You have to look at the team, which, um, Glamsquad did. And then you have to think about what, what are we trying to build? I believe having one foot in the present, but also having one foot in the future. And at the time, uh, last year, it was very important for us to think about what do we want to look like coming out of this? And so a lot of our effort was put towards that focus and that strategy, getting pros back on, um, staying, staying super connected to our clients.

Gio Vaccaro (27:37):

And also everyone should be doing this, understanding the behavior of your client. What’s their, what’s their, what’s the consumer mindset. And I say that because it’s, you have to put effort behind that, but there’s a return on effort for Glamsquad. It was taking, uh, taking our call it top 10,000 customers and surveying them, giving them a discount, uh, for being able to respond to it, but serving them something quick and easy, but just understand where where’s their mind at. Are they going to events? Are they not going to events? How do they feel about it? Have they moved out of our service zone? Is it temporary or is it a permanent, um, would they have Glamsquad again in the future? And a lot of this is there’s potential involved in it, right? So you’re asking somebody to think about the future, but we got so much amazing data there so much amazing data. And it made us very confident that when things start opening up that we’re back and that’s kind of our tagline,

Katie Hankinson (28:44):

The final question, which we always ask our guests is our pilot’s checklist. We love our building while flying, because it speaks to the nimbleness, flexibility and foresight needed to operate in business today. So what is your process or practice or mantra that helps you geo build while flying,

Gio Vaccaro (29:05):

Building while flying? I love, love that mantra. Um, well, I can, I can tell you when you say practice, I can tell you what helps me build while flying is my mindset has to be very, very clear. And so my morning, my morning commitment to myself is a key to how I’m going to show up in the world for the rest of the day. So I believe, um, and I got this from, uh, from Jay Shetty who, uh, is somebody who I, and I’m super interested in, but basically this idea of the morning is for self. And then the rest of the day is for service. And so if I focus on myself in the morning, my prayer, my meditation, my gratitude, then I believe that I can show up in this world, like the best version of myself, kind of like after getting a Glamsquad, you feel like the best version of yourself.

Gio Vaccaro (30:03):

Um, then I believe that I’ll have much more value to those that I’m around. And I believe that I can be more agile and more nimble in decision-making because look as a leader, one of my beliefs, two of my philosophies is that you have to be decisive. You have to be decisive. Um, I believe, uh, not making a decision and being indecisive can really, really destroy, uh, trust in leadership. And so I believe that I’m more decisive and I’m a stronger leader and I can build while flying. When I have my morning commitments just checked off beautifully and, uh, I can serve better in this world. Why it’s wonderful word. It’s true. It’s true. Um, doesn’t happen every morning, but I’ve got two kids. So it’s, it’s a challenge running around. I tell my wife, I’m like, Hey, if you want me to serve you today, let me have my morning. She now gets it. Oh,

Katie Hankinson (31:03):

Well, thank you so much for joining us today. It’s been such a

Gio Vaccaro (31:06):

Pleasure chatting with you. Thank you for having me

Katie Hankinson (31:10):

Well, now that we’ve finished that thoroughly interesting interview, we’re getting ready to land, but before we do Mickey and I caught up on some of the themes and topics that

Mickey Cloud (31:18):

That’s happened to us, yes, we liken this to the post game show where we break down the key lessons we all can benefit from, including us here at the Sasha group here is the Sasha side, 80. What an awesome conversation with Gio from the lamb squad, uh, you know, a company that I do. I do remember you brought up kind of the, the holiday parties, uh, early in 20 13, 14 Vayner, where we were able to bring them in, in those early 20, 14, 15, maybe early years. But, uh, yeah, so, so cool to catch up with Gio and hear kind of how, how they’ve evolved and where they’re going next.

Katie Hankinson (31:56):

I know firstly geo himself has just so much energy and also as a kind of visionary of the brand and the way he kind of sums what the brand is all about. It just gave such a crystal clear sense of like what it is that they’re building around.

Mickey Cloud (32:11):

Yeah. And I think one of the things that you kind of called out or that you dug into with the geo was the fact that he’s bringing kind of a hospitality mindset to, uh, to the beauty category and that, that reframing, or that, that, you know, just new way of thinking about traditional salon services, you know, created, you know, it was, it was from there. How would we act if we were a hospitality company? Oh, well, we would come to you and we would allow you to have bookings and it would be accessible. And like, you know, all these, it’s all about like that confidence you feel when you, when you see yourself in the mirror, after going through a session and things like that. Like, I think that’s such a fun, fun exercise to go through. Um, when thinking about like, what could this mean for our company?

Katie Hankinson (32:55):

I agree. I think it, it would have been easy for them to have almost said, we’re going to apathy by the hair and beauty experience and make an

Katie Hankinson (33:06):

Unlike that would have missed the entire kind of brand experience part of how you can reframe the brand. And I agree, I love that he talked a lot about what it means to be a hospitality brand and how, as soon as you start doing that, it, it begins to inform how you think about every touch point. We did an exercise. It’s a great exercise, actually, for anyone going through a strategic planning phase, whether it’s a brand planning phase or even a product like ideation phase, um, to just reframe how you’re looking at the picture. So we did this with, uh, with the California wine, um, organization a few years back where they represent little growers in California, and we were spending time with them talking about how do you think about your brand in a different way, as opposed to just being like a, B, B to B representation of the wine growers. And we took them down a series of exercises around what have we thought of ourselves as a travel company? Like what do travel and tourism brands do to really inform consumers about, about the part of the world. And it was a really, really generative exercise and great fun for the team. So it’s a really good tool for strategy planning.

Mickey Cloud (34:18):

Yeah. Yeah. And I think the other kind of, um, reframing kind of mindset that, that, that I found really interesting was just how he, how Gio talked about, you know, the, the people that he hires on the front lines, you know, that are giving the experience like how, how he trains them, how he treats them, how, you know, how, how they’re set up in the business, you know, they’re, they’re the talent, they’re the front face of talent of the business. And I think that’s something that is, um, is another kind of, if not trend, just, uh, something we’re seeing a lot of, as you look across kind of the broader business landscape is, is how brands are, you know, pumping up and treating kind of the frontline folks that are delivering that experience. I think of like Peloton and how they really embraced how their instructors as influencers or as talent. And, and they’re not afraid that, you know, that they’re going to be bigger than the brand, because at the end of the day, it’s kind of, it’s the platform that has, has, has allowed them to have that. And also that’s that personal connection kind of to the brand.

Katie Hankinson (35:18):

Yeah. That reframe that, like the individual is such a powerful part of your brand story. They’re not just an employee, they actually can add to the brand experience. And I think that the side of like a make sure you’re hiring people that are a fit from a values perspective and a personality perspective, whatever it is for your brand, but also that you take the responsibility to onboard them into what it is that you’re building. So they know what they’re a part of. And I think

Mickey Cloud (35:47):

Give them that like personal brand building at bat

Katie Hankinson (35:49):

Yeah. And Gio, you know, they’ve clearly put in a great deal, more infrastructure after, you know, making some early learnings on right on that onboarding process. So super cool.

Mickey Cloud (36:00):

I love, and then my last kind of thing was just a shout out at the end of like, what helps keeps him calm was the practice he got from Jay Shetty, which is, you know, obviously the business partner of Alex who, uh, we, we had the show the summer from icon media. So that was, that was a fun, organic, uh, shout out. I got there.

Katie Hankinson (36:17):

I love it. So we’ll talk question. Well, I’ve got one. Yeah. What about, um, what, what ways do you onboard new talent into your company? Like, oh, the clever ways that you bring them on board with the brand or

Mickey Cloud (36:38):

It, how you find them, how you recruit

Katie Hankinson (36:39):

Them and like, how do you really quickly get them to understand the culture of the brand that it is that you’re building. Thanks for joining us for building while flying today. I hope you learned as much as we did. We’ll meet you right back here next time for another flight.

Mickey Cloud (37:00):

If you’d like to hear more about how business owners and brands are navigating these times tune into the next episode. And if you’re so kind, please rate and review us, plus we’d love feedback. So let us know what you think, what you’d like us to dig into next on building while flying, across brands, businesses, marketing, and more

Katie Hankinson (37:14):

Original music by Fulton street music group.

Welcome to Building While Flying!

This weekly podcast is brought to you by Sasha Group. We’re the consultancy meets agency arm of the VaynerX family of companies. We help ambitious companies build strong brands that flex with the times through strategy, branding media and marketing.

In ever-changing times, businesses and brands have to shift and adapt. And across all sectors, there is an air of experimentation. Business owners are trying new things out in the wild;  building the plane while flying.

Our pilots, Katie Hankinson and Mickey Cloud, will be talking to a diverse range of business leaders and founders. They’ll explore how these guests tackle various challenges while staying resilient and committed to growth. Through these real-life examples of strategies put into practice, we hope to inspire you to experiment and develop your own strategies as we all navigate these uncertain times together.

Giovanni Vaccaro left his family’s restaurant business at age 18 and went straight to cosmetology school.

He says he was the worst beauty student they’d ever seen. After years of learning and hard work, Gio became one of the most well-known and respected beauty professionals in New York. He then parlayed his expertise with his passion for innovation by co-founding the mobile beauty app Glamsquad. For 8 years, this disruptive beauty brand has allowed their clients to get ready in the comfort of their own home with top Glamsquad artists, helping them look and feel their best.

In this week’s episode of Building While Flying, Gio shares how Glamsquad was born and the challenges he’s faced while building and scaling the business. He shares the most important aspect of his business, discusses the qualities he looks for when hiring new team members, lessons learned during the COVID-19 pandemic, and the importance of maintaining brand values. Throughout the conversation, he offers some advice for aspiring business owners—some of which might surprise you!

Other in-flight topics:

  • How Glamsquad was born
  • Scaling the business
  • Building a memorable brand experience
  • Hiring the right people
  • Maintaining brand values
  • Challenges while building and scaling Glamsquad
  • …and more!

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