Liverpool woman who left school at 15 with no GCSEs has turned her life around and become a successful business tech entrepreneur after setting up a beauty booking app in the heart of the city.
Jody Riley is now on track to build her nation-wide beauty empire after overcoming her struggles at school and finding the confidence to believe in herself.
Jody Riley launched beauty booking app PamperBook, which enables customers to book appointments with hundreds of salons and freelancers across the country. Within the first week of the official launch, PamperBook had tripled its monthly targets and now represents over 400+ beauty salons and freelancers across the U.K.
I can’t believe just how well it is doing,” smiles Jody, now 31. “I had confidence that it was a great product and that it was meeting a much-needed demand, but to beat our targets by so much and so soon was unbelievable. The app has blown up. We’ve already got more than 1,000 customers using the app and around 400 + businesses signed up – and they are growing by the day I am overwhelmed at the success. It has taken a-lot of hard work but it is all becoming to worth it”.
She adds: “Fifteen years ago I’d left school with nothing and my confidence was at rock bottom, but I always knew I would do something in business. It’s taken a lot of hard work to get where I am now due to a rocky start with my education, but I’m there – and I’m determined to make it more successful that ever! I also aim to inspire women who share a similar story to mine, to not give up. Education is extremely important yes but if you do not excel at academics, it is not the be all and end all of your life”.
Jody, who is from the heart of Liverpool, has always had a strong work ethic and dreamed of owning her own beauty business. From the age of nine she helped out every Saturday at her local charity car boot sale and worked in a café; at 11 she worked for her next-door neighbour delivering papers for £15 a week and started doing a car boot sale with her friend every Saturday: “I’d wake up at 6am carting all the stuff to the venue in my mum’s shopping trolley and bin bags. I’d sell all her old ornaments, video tapes, my teddies, clothes… anything I could get my hands on!”
But when it came to school that was a different matter. Jody wasn’t a ‘naughty’ pupil but she could never get on with her teachers and admits she wasn’t willing to learn or be told what to do: “I didn’t care to listen. Of course, in hindsight I wish I’d been different. I have done well for myself now with a-lot of hard work and a little bit of luck but I do wish I had paid more attention in school and got the most out of my education. I could of give myself a better chance starting off”, she says.
“Along with some other students I got put on an early-leave study course and was unfortunately expelled at the end of Year 10. I wasn’t invited to go to the school prom and I left with no GCSES which was disheartening.”
It was only when Jody got pregnant at 22 that she began to focus her efforts on starting her own business to support herself and her young son and to finally follow her dreams: “I went on courses to learn how to do nails, make-up, spray tans and beauty, and I offered treatments as a mobile therapist while I was pregnant and after he was born. My son inspired me to work even harder and not let my talents go to waste. I think more than anything I suffered with low confidence whilst at school and it took me a little longer to figure out what I wanted to do and who I wanted to be”.
Ultimately, Jody realised she loved working for herself and loved the work in the beauty industry – she finally knew what she wanted to do.
Jody came up with the idea of a beauty listings service while on holiday in the Lake District and trying – and failing – to find someone or somewhere to get a blow dry.
She set up Just Bella website which detailed hair and beauty therapists across the UK; but has spent the last two years building and trialling the PamperBook app. Through it customers can easily book appointments for services from hair, make-up and beauty treatments, to semi-permanent make-up, yoga and meditation, slimming treatments, and more.
There is a separate PamperBook Scheduling app for companies and mobile stylists who wish to be included on the list, through which customers can make their bookings.
“It means someone can find someone who offers the treatment they want and book it in 30 seconds,” says Jody. “It also saves them time phoning around or messaging on Facebook or Instagram, and it saves the salon or individual time, and allows them to build a bigger client base more easily”.
“We look after our businesses too, offering support, an awards scheme and networking events – we are real supporters of our clients and our aim is to help them as much as we can. “We’ve also got our first ‘How to Grow Your Own Business’ event with guest speaker Katie Hayes, a successful beauty entrepreneur and huge social media influencer, at The Florist in Liverpool on September 30th. The aim is to inspire and network with beauty and creative professionals.” Katie Hayes was also the face of PamperBook’s recent successful influencer campaign when launching the app earlier this year.
Jody, who is pregnant with her second child, has further business plans but wants, for now at least, to concentrate on making PamperBook a nationwide go-to app and the aim is to turn over her first million within the next year.
Jody says: “I have worked so hard on PamperBook and to see the empire I am building is fantastic – and a relief that finally my hard work is paying off! It’s exciting and I’m loving what I’m doing.
“I have got so many more ideas and ambitions but I don’t want to run before I can walk. Before anything else I want establish PamperBook and make it the best it can be, for its businesses and its customers.”
The PamperBook app is available to download on ITunes and Android devices.
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