Ah, the wonders of technology. It used to be you’d have to pay through the nose for a masseuse to make a housecall or spend time trawling for credible beauty service providers. Now, however, an app and two websites are sidestepping all that by offering affordable spa-standard massages at home and helping you find and book beauty treatments like manicures and haircuts on short notice. You caneven explore the servicesof independent or under-the-radar beauty artists and salons.
With our increasingly challenging workloads (and schedules!), there’s no better time than now to hop on the bandwagon.
Visit http://www.solehouse. com.sg or call 6221-7002 to book an appointment
The brainchild of: Tom Lapping, 45, a Thai-Australian currently based in Singapore.
Solehouse is your go-to for an intense massage to work out all your knots – in the comfort of your own home.And if you book a service with them, know that you’re in good company: they were tasked to give massages to T-Swift’s crew and dancers
at the Taylor Swift Red Tour in 2014, and gave British shoe designerCharlotte Olympia a massage at her hotel when she was last in town in 2012. At your house, the therapists will set up a mini massage corner with towels,stools and chairs for a
relaxing experience. As its name suggests, Solehouse specialises in foot reflexology – the kind that is slightly achy, not so intense that you’ll yelp in pain, and that leaves you feeling rejuvenated. Back, neck, shoulder and full body massages are also available, even manicures and pedicures. Tom tells us that he strives for consistency – the system tracks your likes and dislikes to make sure that you get the best experience. All the therapists are also in-house, which means you are more likely to be able to book your favourite masseuse in a short span of time. All the Solehouse masseuses are required to have at least five years of experience working in a spaand must be certifed locally so you know you’re not getting a novice. The spa uses a balance oil – a blend which includes apricot kernel oil, hazel seed oil, grape seed oil and macadamia seed oil.Though the service was launched in 2012, Tom tells us that he has spent the past three to four years getting the technicalities of delivering a seamlesscustomer experience –from the ease of booking a massage to serving ginger tea after a treatment – down pat.
You can also mix and match treatments, so if you’re not up for an hourlong foot refl exology session, go for a 90min full body, foot and back massage for $150. They also provide multiple therapists (including equipment and set-up) for bachelorette parties.
What’s great is that it opens till 2am (last booking is at 12am, but if your booking finishes after midnight, there’s a surcharge of $20) even during public holidays. The only downside is that there are certain neighbourhoods they don’t service, which
you can find out more about here: http://www.solehouse.com.sg/faq/. Prices start from $95 for a 120min foot reflexology session.
BACKSTORY: Solehouse is Tom’s first foray into the beauty industry and he has big plans for it. Tom, who is also the ex-owner of the successful F&B businesses in Thailand and Australia, was looking to “chill out and start a passive business” after selling those ventures and moving to Singapore in 2010. But once he realised there was a gap in the market for an affordable luxury such as a home-based spa, he was up and running again. He set up Solehouse with the help of his wife, Kelly, who is in charge of operations and marketing and has a day job as a kindergarten school teacher. Since they started the business in 2012, Solehouse has given nearly 60,000 massages (we’re impressed!). Tom and Kelly are both planning to expand the Solehouse brand, so you can look forward to getting an at home waxing service or a blowout really soon.
HOW IT WORKS:
1. Take your pick from the list of services on the website: there’s a selection of mix-and-match treatments. For example, you can choose between a full body (60min) and a foot massage (30min) combi or a foot (45min) and a back massage (45min) combi for a 90 massage of the same price.
2. Fill in the appointment form: click on the ‘book now’ button on the top right hand corner of the page and fill in your details, including your preferred date and time slot, the service you want, the number of therapists you need and whether you prefer a male or female therapist.
3. Confirm the booking: you’ll receive a confirmation email after your booking.
4. Make payment: the spa accepts cash, cheque or credit card. If you’re paying by credit card, the therapist will pass you an authorisation form after your treatment.
Download Vanitee for free on iTunes and Google Play.
The brainchild of: (below, left) Douglas Gan, 32, CEO; (below, right) Meters Ang, 26; (not pictured) Peng Kong Choy, 30, CTO; (not pictured) Kuik Xiaoshi, 32, COO.
Vanitee, a 16-month-old app, provides a platform for independent beauty artists or small boutique salons to connect with customers. Aside from being able to book appointments on the app, you can get a confirmed booking instantly if the salon has an available slot. This also gives you a chance to explore more indie artists and services, which according to Douglas, tend to be more receptive to using technology to drive sales. That said, the platform includeschain salons – Mary Chia was the first, but Douglas expects more to follow.
According to Vanitee, they have a stringent 27-step process which includes checking if the salon is legit through certificates or actual site visits and sifting through authentic reviews. The salon listing is accompanied by ratings and reviews from past customers. We love that it has the most comprehensive list of beauty services – over 1,700 artists on its platform, and services range from manicures, haircuts, lash extensions to even yoga lessons.
BACKSTORY: Douglas, an entrepreneur behind a number of startups including a web hosting company and a hardware trading business, met his three other co-founders atmBattlehack, a coding competition. They set up VanityTrove in 2012, a beauty box subscription service. It’s still in operation but the focus has shifted to target businesses instead. “We provide packaging, product and sample distribution, logistics and marketing services,” says Douglas.
So how did the idea for Vanitee come about? “The four of us felt that there wasn’t any service in the market that makes it easy forconsumers to find and book beauty salons,” says Douglas. “Everyone thought we were crazy to venture into the beauty industry, and they said that we will never be able to understand how a woman thinks. But we just want to deliver a great experience whenever someone thinks of getting a beauty treatment done,” he says.
HOW IT WORKS:
1. Download the app: Once you open it, you’ll see a list of categories ranging from nails to hair styling.
2. Take your pick from a list of salons and artists: You can also toggle to “works” (an Instagram-style page with the artists’ portfolios), link up with a specific artist whose work you like, check the location of a salon or see if it offers housecalls.
3. Get all the info you need: At each salon’s page, you’ll get to see its previous works, its address, cancellation policy, FAQs and reviews from fellow customers. There’s alsoan option to chat with the artist if you want additional services that aren’t listed.
4. Choose your service: the landing page features a list of services, their prices and what they comprise. For example, if you choose amanicure, its description will tell you if it includes buffing and cuticle care, or if those cost extra.
5. Make a booking: after making your selection, you’ll be taken to a page toinput time and date, payment method, whether your service is done at home or at the salon, and additional notes if you have any other concerns. You’ll see the last available time slot at this booking page as well.
WEBSITE: OUTCALL SPA
Visit http://theoutcallspa.com or call 8782-0561 to book an appointment
The brainchild of: (left) Amber Chong, 36, and (right) Stella Tan, 35.
Outcall Spa is a mobile massage service (they don’t have a brick and mortar store) but it’s asreal a home spa as it gets.They’ll go anywhere with four walls, a roof and enough space for a single sized portable bed. It goes the extra mile by making your abode look as close to a real spa as possible, and deliver a “luxurious and relaxing experience,” according to Amber. This includes bringing along a portable music player to play relaxing spa music, a professional massage bed set up with embroidered towels and a range of aromatherapy scents and massage oils from France, Korea and Australia to choose from. The duo only interviews therapists with more than three years of experience in a renownedspa or hotel. They also personally test and experience the masseuses’skills and service quality before hiring them.
The spa offers seven different massages, including couple massage, deep tissue massage for stress related tension, pre-natal massage to ease back aches and a traditional Javanese post-natal massage. If you want a massage pronto, you can actually book a service for an hour later, depending on the therapist’s availability. The spa also caters to hen’s night parties or girly get-togethers, and couple massages.
Prices start from $168 for 90min.
BACKSTORY: Cofounder Amber, who has a day job in business development, had stepped on a wasp one morning as she was preparing to leave the house for a massage. “I couldn’t leave the house as my foot had swelled up, and thus tried to go online to search for a reputable therapist who would come to my house instead, but it was a fruitless search,” says Amber. The idea for a ‘mobile spa’ caught on and she started the spa with her business partner, Stella, an owner of an interior design firm, a mere six months later.
HOW IT WORKS:
Simply call the appointment hotline (8782-0561) or send a message via the Outcall Spa website and you’ll receive a confirmation via Whatsapp or email once the booking is confirmed.
The original version of this story was published in the October 2016 print issue of Her World.
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