Melody McCloskey is the co-founder and CEO of StyleSeat, the leading destination for booking beauty and wellness appointments. Her aim was to create a space where industry experts could showcase their work, connect with clients, and build their business, while clients could discover new services and providers and book appointments on the go. Today, the platform has over 400,000 beauty professionals in over 16,000 US cities and has powered over $3.2 billion appointmentqs. For her work with StyleSeat, McCloskey (who’s also an advisor to Stanford Business School’s Silicon Valley Project, and a mentor for the Thiel Fellowship) was named Fast Company’s Most Creative People in Business, one of Inc. Magazine’s Top Women to Watch in Technology, and one of Business Insider’s Most Stylish People in Silicon Valley.
What’s one practice, goal, or purpose that helps get you out of bed each day?
Even when it’s tough, my work really does that for me. When people first hear about StyleSeat, they think it’s a company about leisure time and vanity. But that’s a huge misconception; we’re actually the opposite. When we started doing market research for our product, we learned that half of all women in the beauty service industry need to have separate jobs to support their families. The business wasn’t built to support its workers, so we’ve created a way for it to do that. On the client side, we have seen the data on the powerful connection between self-care and confidence. So we devised a way to give more customers access to cost-effective beauty services. Seeing the two sides of that business grow and come to life is incredibly motivating.
Whose advice have you taken recently? What was it?
I have an executive coach, Joel Yanowitz, whom I love. When I first started seeing him, I felt almost guilty. Like I was being self-indulgent. But now I think of coaches totally differently. They’re people who can give you tools to help you upgrade the operating system of your life. And that helps not just you, but everyone around you. Recently, my coach asked me to think of a ship, and then to tell him who on that boat has the biggest impact on how fast it can go to get where it needs to be. Your gut tells you to say the captain, but if you think about it more closely, it’s the shipbuilder—the person who gives the ship its core capabilities. My business is growing fast, so we’re using this metaphor as advice for figuring out ways to make it and myself run the most smoothly from the inside out. Facilitating communication is coming up a lot in that regard, specifically being present in a conversation and also observing it at the same time. When you do that, you’re acting and not reacting, and you have more space to think about the results you want.
Is there a product, app, or life hack that’s saving your sanity?
This past winter, I was sick for about three weeks. So I started listening to a lot of podcasts. There was a Tim Ferris podcast I really connected with, all about trying to find physical and spiritual balance. What really resonated with me were all simple, tactical ways to incorporate mediation into day-to-day life. I’ve started using the Calm app, for example. It keeps my mind from spinning at night so I can fall asleep more quickly. In the morning, I’ll sit in my bed with a glass or water and play it for two minutes to help me start the day with more intention.
What’s your absolute favorite healthy meal?
I stick to Paleo as much as I can. I’ve tried a million different diets and for me, that was the one that reduced my fatigue. When I’m on the go, I really like kale salads, like the ones at Blue Barn Gourmet. But when I have more time, I especially love making homemade soup. I’ll use chicken broth and tons of mushrooms, and then load it with other vegetables. The great thing is that once you’ve made it, you have this healthy, nourishing thing you created yourself.
Do you have any advice for staying healthy and balanced when work or travel gets intense?
I always try to maintain a fitness routine. I track my steps on my iPhone, and when I’m at home I’ll take Vinyasa yoga classes at Equinox or go to Core 40 for pilates. I always keep tension bands in my suitcase, and I have Tracy Anderson videos on my both my laptop and my phone. She has, among other things, an amazing arm workout that takes ten minutes a day and keeps your arms tiny.
When you want to glow, what do you eat or drink?
I try to eat as many greens as I can, but I’ll use products in addition to food. For example, I love the Perricone MD Chloro Plasma mask. It instantly gives your skin a wonderful, healthy radiance. It leaves your face, soft, bright, and smooth.
Okay, you’ve opened the floodgates. What are some of your favorite beauty products or beauty tips you can share?
We use soap because we’re told to, but we don’t think about how harsh it can be. So then we have to follow up with these thick lotions, and I recently came to the conclusion that it was all overkill. So now I wash my face with oil at night, and then I have a chemical exfoliator I use in the morning. As for makeup, I change it up a lot. Right now, I use Makeup Forever for foundation. And I love the Skin Twinkle Lighting Palette from Tarte for eyeshadow and Bite Amuse Bouche lipstick.
When and where do you feel the most centered?
Over the past few months, I’ve put a lot of effort into making my place feel like a home. I’ve always had the excuse that I’m traveling all the time, and so I never put much thought into where I was living. But I recently turned 30, and that milestone helped me realize that I needed to prioritize my space more. So I’ve been spending the past six months buying art that I love. I use an app called Print Studio. You can use it to pull photos from your phone or Instagram and for 25 dollars, they blow them up and send them to you in these beautiful frames. I’ve also been buying lots of plants and bedding. It’s amazing the different just those things alone can make.
What does “healthy” feel like to you?
I know I’m healthy when I don’t ever have to have to think about how my body feels during the day. Also, when I have plenty of energy, a clear mind, and the mindset to be happy. Ideally, this means that I’m at a place where everything is running smoothly with my job so I can pay attention to how I want to spend my time. This is a new lesson for me, but I’m finding that sometimes you have to slow down a lot in the short-term—and rebuild your systems from the ground up—to function better and faster over the long-run.