When Katie Shields opened Mylkbar, she knew her brand of eco-friendly beauty would be a hit in Charleston, South Carolina.
Shields had done her research—after all, she'd spent years in software sales and knew a good fit when she found one. She knew she wanted to build a beauty business based on her eco-conscious values and her experience with software, and there weren't many similar businesses in Charleston if there were any at all.
"When I opened Mylkbar, there was a huge gap in the market for non-toxic nail and beauty services," Shields said. "There's a nail salon in almost every strip mall, yet 99% of them are predominantly a cash-only business. So, our business model is very different."
Originally, Mylkbar's business model was to blend high-tech and high-end, while focusing on eco-friendly nail services. The nail salon offered online booking, credit card payments, and group reservations, all through Booker.
"When you're paying a bit more, you expect more, and we want it to feel high-end, and having great booking software feels high-end to clients," Shields said. "You're not going to go to your neighbor neighborhood nail salon, and they're going to have Booker. It's not going to happen."
After being open for a while, Shields saw an opportunity to expand Mylkbar's services by offering facials and waxing.
"The reason we added facials was we had a closet that was big enough to be an express facial room," Shields said. "It's not big enough to do like full-service facials, but I'm a big believer in generating revenue in every square foot of space."
Ultimately, the additional services offered a way to diversify and earn more revenue. More services mean more opportunities to sell retail products, and also a broader opportunity to win market share.
In addition to its range of services, a large (and dependable) chunk of revenue at Mylkbar is group bookings from bachelorette parties and weddings—part of why Charleston and its seven million annual visitors is an ideal home for the beauty business.
"The thing that we love about groups is it's a very predictable revenue stream," Shields said. "You'd much rather have a group of people coming in with multiple streams of revenue, multiple appointment commitments, rather than just a lot of individual appointments."
Shields' formula for group bookings and add-on services worked, and the brand expanded. Mylkbar began to offer franchising opportunities and opened a location in Nashville, Tennessee, in 2019.
While Shields started with Booker to manage the backend of Mylkbar, she briefly switched to another software. "It was horrible—the migration was a total nightmare," Shields said. After a short time, Mylkbar came back to Booker—where it plans to stay throughout its future franchise growth.
After all, the partnership with Booker has helped Mylkbar grow: "Our revenue increased 14% last year which is hard to do when you're not hiring more staff."