Jamila Robertson is the founder of Slapp, a makeup app that matches women to foundations and other complexion cosmetics, that match their skintone. The app also provides content that includes beauty reviews, videos and interviews with inspiring women on the rise.
What drove you to create your own product?
When I was at school, I found it impossible to find makeup for my skintone in the local Boots and Superdrug stores, but I was surprised when I began working in the beauty industry, that ten years on, nothing had really changed.
Thankfully the internet makes it easier to access brands that cater to everyone, but it’s still extremely difficult to actually know which shade is the right one for you (regardless of your skin tone); so I created an app that would make foundation matching as easy as taking a selfie!
What have you noticed about the British beauty industry that you set out to do differently?
A few things really. Obviously, there’s still a diversity issue, in terms of full beauty ranges being stocked by retailers. There definitely has been some progress in terms of marketing but I am hopeful that this isn’t just a fad, or trend to keep vocal Tweeters quiet.
I have also noticed that there isn’t really any brand defining what British beauty is and representing Brit girls on a global scale. That is what I want to do with Slapp. In the same way, we are universally acknowledged for our unique fashion point of view, I’d like Slapp to be the trailblazer in doing that for British beauty.
How far ahead do you plan and what keeps you on track and motivated?
I have my 10-year plan locked down – and that really keeps me motivated. Even though the day-to-day challenges can sometimes be overwhelming, keeping my eye on the prize, enables me to push through.
I’m also a serial planner. I like to write daily lists, mainly because crossing completed tasks off, gives me such a sense of satisfaction; and also because I hate getting to the end of the day, and suddenly remembering everything I should have done!
What has been the most amazing day for your product so far?
I think the most amazing day for the App so far, was the Monday after our Daily Mail and Elle magazine features came out. The response we received was phenomenal! I went for a walk around the Serpentine to drink it all in, then went back to work.
What was the first setback you had, and what did you learn from it?
Gosh! Every day there seems to be something, and I truly didn’t believe it when entrepreneurs say, “every day is a challenge,” but it is so true. There is always someone trying to trip you up, or throw you off; but after a while of facing these challenges, you learn to have a rant, take a breath, and move on.
The first challenge we had, was with the initial build. We had a launch prepped for September and a developer who was withholding code and threatening to undo months and months of work. Well, I actually had two of them! After that nightmare was over, I decided to rebuild and we relaunched a few months later.
I’m a relentless emailer! I think I’ve emailed everyone there is to email!
I love a good chinwag down the phone, but people seem a bit freaked out by receiving work phone calls these days! Apart from that, my phone is (aptly) my main resource. I am on my phone all of the time; whether that’s updating social, researching brands and potential collaborators, or editing articles. Oh, and attending events. It has been said, that I’m a bit of a party girl, but it’s all work really!
The best way to tell people about your brand is face to face. We’re a rock & roll/bad gal brand anyway, so it’s all part of the Slapp lifestyle.
Who do you admire or look to for inspiration?
Wow, there are so many people I admire. It may sound cheesy but I admire all women doing it for themselves. It’s so easy to rely on other people, but it is so much more rewarding, knowing you can support yourself if you need to. My mum is one of those women, and it is incredible how much she has achieved all on her own merit.
Women in the public eye I look up to: Naomi Campbell, for proving that age should never be an excuse to slow down and being in the minority should never make you think it’s ok to not speak up. Michelle Obama is a Queen, as is Oprah. I thought Princess Diana, was perfection- so kind, so considered, just the best. Oh and Kate Moss. I know she’s naughty, but that’s why I like her.
What piece of advice has had the most impact on your brand? And who was it from?
My dad telling me to just ‘go for it’. It was great to have that support back when it was just an idea. He’s usually a little sceptical about my ‘big ideas’, so it was extremely reassuring, particularly coming from him.
What are the three books, websites or resources (professional or personal) that you would recommend to other creators/ owners in your industry?
I think if you are starting an online store, Shopify is the best platform to do it on. It’s not cheap, in that there is a monthly fee, but it really makes life easier in terms of logistics, design and connecting to other platforms.
Google Campus was a huge resource for me back when I was starting out. They have so many fantastic talks, that are all free and with a really diverse offering. I met a lot of great people there, who offered fantastic advice.
I didn’t want to give my secret away, but sharing’s caring, and it was the biggest help for me on my journey. ‘How to build a billion dollar app’, is a phenomenal book, if you’re new to the app building business (like I was). It really breaks everything down – and covers everything you’ll ever need to know.
What other passions do you have away from your business? How do you relax?
Fashion was my original passion, so it’s nice for it to be a passion again and no longer an industry I’m trying to work my way up in. Apart from that: shopping, watching YouTube (research, honestly!), great wine, all things French, and baths are all passionate pastimes.
I love meeting new people, especially those at the start of their journey – and offering any advice. In blogging, I feel like a bit of an OG, sometimes. Most of the newbies have way surpassed my follower count, but it’s so nice to see. That’s the thing I love most about working in beauty, everyone really supports one another – and genuinely wants to see them do well. I suppose that’s work as well, but as they say, do something you love…
Connect with Slapp via Slappshop.com and across social media: @slappldn
Slapp was the winner of The Innovation Award at The PRECIOUS Hair and Beauty Awards 2017