Stylist-driven digital strategy

Elevating the stylist experience for a beauty supply industry leader

Human-Centered Design
Generative Research
Digital Strategy




  • User experience consultant
  • Research planning, coordination, and moderation
  • Qualitative synthesis and insights
  • Client presentation

My role on the project

As the UX lead at a Dallas-based digital marketing agency in 2016, I pitched a pivotal project with a major beauty supply client to explore opportunities for their stylist experience.

Collaborating with a small, dedicated team, I planned and led a research effort to address the company's reputation for being challenging to do business with.

Through moderated interviews and qualitative data synthesis, we not only unearthed key pain points in the stylist journey but inspired strategic solutions for the company to prioritize and explore further.

The opportunity

“One of our partners told us that, in general, we’re hard to do business with.”

– VP of Beauty Systems Group

I was engaged with the client on an e-commerce overhaul and exploring ideas to improve their customer experience, but our stakeholders lacked real customer insight to help them prioritize future efforts. Hearing from their stylists directly would give them the insights they needed for true customer-centric innovation.

Define the challenges

After a few conversations with the business team on what their challenges were, a few key things stood out.

Complex reputational issue

An opportunity laid in understanding why the company was perceived as difficult to interface with and discovering the root causes.

Fractured stylist experience

Capturing the journey of stylists from brand discovery to purchase required talking to their stylists and retail stores.

Lacking digital strategy and insights

Addressing pain points while integrating digital seamlessly with stylists' daily routines posed a unique challenge.

My approach

Apply the right method

Developed a research plan that involved in-store visits and interviews to gain firsthand insights into the stylist journey and store operations.

Conduct interviews and gather data

Conducted interviews with customers and store managers, captured qualitative data, and synthesized it into a cohesive customer journey map.

Communicate learnings

Led the team in identifying pain points and sharing our learnings with the business leadership team, along with recommendations for further exploration and discovery.

Meeting employees and stylists

Our goal was to get a slice of what it’s like on each side of the business to identify some of the root causes for why stylists might be saying they’re hard to do business with.

In collaboration with a scrappy team from the agency, I spent a few days visiting our client’s local beauty supply stores to talk to customers, store managers, and employees. We scheduled these visits ahead of time so that the stores could make arrangements if needed.

The visits consisted of an initial interview with the store manager and an employee. Afterward, I would ask stylists on their way out of the store if they had a few minutes to chat (And promised we weren’t selling them anything).

Being mindful of everyone’s time, I kept our interactions concise and to the point. I asked about how stylists entered the profession, how they tend to find supplies, how they keep track of what to order and when, and how they worked with their customers that had specific product needs. I also talked to them about their general online shopping experience and habits.

Organize the data

After conducting our interviews, we spent the next few days synthesizing the data to highlight emerging patterns along the stylist journey. We grouped feedback by assumptions, direct feedback from interviews, and future state asks from the business.

Key pain points

A few strong themes began emerging as we worked through the data, and very quickly we found a clear set of pain points to bring back to the client.

The digital shopping experience was lacking

Stylists generally critiqued the digital shopping experience against Amazon and other sites they regularly used. The mobile experience was critically painful.

Ordering supplies for upcoming client appointments was messy

Everyone communicated with clients differently. Keeping track of who needs which products for which appointment was messy and complex.

Stylists desired a one-stop place for supplies and furthering their skills

Stylists are constantly looking to further their learning and keep up with the latest hair trends. The business identified an opportunity, validated by our research, for the company to offer a digital place for skills learning.

Strategic opportunities

Modern digital tools

A user-friendly digital toolset that enables stylists to align supply ordering with customer appointments, ensuring they have the necessary products in stock.

Mobile-first mindset

Continue to invest in e-commerce and adopt a mobile-first, responsive web approach. Customer expectations increase each year as large online retailers continuously innovate the online shopping experience.

Stylist education platform

Explore vendor partnerships to offer a digital education platform for stylists to level-up their skills and further their domain knowledge, creating strong brand advocates.

Client response

“This really highlights where our problems are and helps us understand why and how to fix them.”
— VP of Beauty Systems Group
An illustration of the documented stylist customer journey showing high-level pain points and highlights from brand awareness to transaction.
Final artifact output designed by Jason Hershey.


My efforts to investigate the stylist experience and develop strategic recommendations provided clarity and a path forward for the client. By crafting a research-based stylist journey map that surfaced common pain points, my team and I brought the stylist’s voice to the table while facilitating the next step in the company’s digital transformation.

Stylist-centric strategy

The presentation of the insights were a resounding success, prompting the client to immediately prioritize the pain points identified through the process.

Mobile-first solutions

Mobile-first was embraced by leadership, leading to the development of a stylist-centered mobile solution for managing scheduling, ordering, and communications.

Digital education

The company developed more options for digital learning for stylists, adding to their already robust in-person classroom experience.

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Say hello!

Interested in working together? I'm open to discuss new challenges and ideas that are a mutual fit, so don't hesitate to reach out!

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