Aspen vacationers’ go-to esthetician for gua sha facials, Heaven on Earth spa owner Pila Xian pivoted to virtual facials when the pandemic hit last year. As Aspen has become a “Zoom town” with moneyed city-dwellers living in their vacation homes full-time, her business has returned — but she still hasn’t stopped livestreaming.
On June 16, Xian will be hosting a 45-person gua sha facial on Bright, a livestream platform that launched in May 2021 offering ticketed events. Attendees can purchase a ticket for $155. Products for the facial, a gua sha stone and a personalized analysis are included with the class.
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“It’s basically a facial that you’d get in the spa, although unfortunately, you have to do everything to yourself,” she said. The personalized analysis, which she calls a “skinterview,” will be conducted via email ahead of the event. While this is her first time on Bright, she has been using Zoom for her virtual facials since the start of the pandemic. “The feedback that I get from it is that women really learn how to take care of their skin, and they learn what they’re doing wrong and what they can do better. It’s really more educational than just coming to the spa and having one done to you.”
Founded by Guy Oseary, Madonna’s and U2’s manager, and former YouTube executive Michael Powers, Bright features events with a high-caliber list of celebrities including Madonna, Ashton Kutcher, Naomi Campbell, Amy Schumer, Charli and Dixie D’Amelio, and Laura Dern, among others. These big names help to attract users to the app by promoting their upcoming events on their social channels. Attendance for events is typically capped at around 100 attendees, who have the opportunity to ask questions directly to said celebrities. Bright takes 20% of the fees from the tickets.
Beauty is one of the hot topics for events on the platform. In addition to Xian, other upcoming beauty speakers include Kylie Jenner BFF and lash artist Yris Palmer, and celebrity makeup artist Denika Bedrossian. For beauty founders, the platform is another digital solution to earn virtual revenue as the salon industry has taken a major hit this year.
“Covid really taught us to have multiple streams of income,” said Palmer, whose L.A.-based salon, Star Lash, was closed for eight months during the pandemic and is now reopened at 25% capacity. “I just went more online.”
Palmer hosted her first Bright livestream event on June 6, offering an abbreviated virtual version of the in-person classes she holds on how to start a salon business. While in-person classes are $2,000 and would have attendees arriving from as far as Thailand to attend in pre-pandemic times, the Bright classes are $49.99. Her second will be held on July 11.
“The main benefit of this is being able to reach so many more people,” said Palmer, whose in-person classes host 10-15 people. The livestream, meanwhile, is much larger, capped at 95. “I can’t wait for them to go international, because a lot of my audience is from Central America.”
Beauty is a “huge vertical” for the app, said Sadia Harper, head of user and product strategy for Bright.
The platform sells tickets through its site and mobile app and is integrated with Zoom’s API. It is currently curated with planned events organized by Bright’s staff, but the plan is to expand to allow people to host events independently.
“Our ultimate goal is to have a platform where creators can come on and create a session that really works for them,” said Harper. “Being so early in the moment, we’re just doing a little, bit by bit, testing it out, making sure our tech works great. But we are going to be expanding to really let creators have this be a platform they can use.”
The number of livestreaming options has exploded in the U.S. during the pandemic. That’s encompassed both major social platforms, including Instagram, TikTok, Facebook and Pinterest, and startups, like Popshop, Shop LIT Live, Supergreat and Newness.
While other platforms offer free, unlimited access, Bright’s ticketed format is more “conversational,” said Harper, as ticket limits allow attendees more opportunities to ask speakers questions directly.
Xian noted the benefit of being able to give people feedback on their gua sha technique, which can’t be done through a typical Instagram Live. “There’s a lot of hype to it, and people may be discouraged if they’re not doing it correctly,” she said.
As businesses open back up and the possibility of in-person events begins to return, Bright is betting on the staying power of the format.
“Live video was happening before the pandemic, and we saw live chat being an active part of people’s lives, but really what the pandemic taught us is that it can be a permanent and engaging part of how we interact with each other,” said Harper.
Palmer plans to continue live-streaming even as her in-person business picks up, through both Bright and Instagram Live, which she used for the first time during the pandemic. “I actually want to use it more,” she said. “I can’t reach all the people that I was reaching on a day-to-day [basis] with just an in-person [appointment]. Livestream is definitely the way to go, and I definitely want to incorporate it more in my business and my lifestyle. I’m trying to use it once a week.”
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