jcpenney shearshare

Local Startup ShearShare Partners with National Retailer

From growing its number of users to adding services, Buffalo startup ShearShare utilizes strategic partnerships.

The latest one: JCPenney’s salons.

ShearShare, a marketplace that provides B2B tools for self-employed stylists, launched Oct. 1 in 25 JCPenney salon locations. The plan is to expand the partnership with ShearShare to all 629
salon sites.

Courtney Caldwell, ShearShare CEO and co-founder, estimated a full rollout within two to 2.5 years.

“In this fast-paced, ever-changing startup landscape, partnerships can make the difference between success and failure,” she said. The startup helps users find space to work, obtain portable healthcare and customize continued education. Sytlists who work at a JCPenney salon will have access to ShearShare’s platform through company iPads. On top of what the startup offers all of its clients, the business has created a dashboard for Penneys to see analytics that will help them with lead generation.

For example, perhaps a stylist has booked at the same location once a week for the last couple months. They might want to start booking longer term. As ShearShare learns from the JCPenney’s dashboard, it hopes to see how it can use the technology to help other users grow as well. Exclusive to JCPenney, the startup will try to leverage commissions for stylists. When customers check out, stylists can give them a
specific coupon code for shopping elsewhere in a JCPenneys store. It saves the shopper money and puts a portion of commission into the stylist’s pocket.

“It’s a win-win for both sides,” said Tye Caldwell, ShearShare co-founder and chief strategy officer.

But the partnership by no means came together overnight. ShearShare’s co-founders first signed an NDA with JCPenney in January 2020. They toured in early March that year a couple salon locations and were setting up follow-up meetings when the pandemic hit.

Conversations picked back up in fall 2020, but the ever-changing pandemic continued on. JCPenney had management changes and internal decisions to make. Throughout it all, the partnership remained on the table. The time, although it took patience, allowed ShearShare to get to know what the national retailer needed.
“Whatever your issues are, that communication is going to be so vitally important,” Tye said. “We’ve learned a lot of lessons. … To go through this process the way we’ve gone through, it’s been amazing.”

The business partnered a few years ago with a coverholder at Lloyd’s of London to offer users usage-based liability insurance. ShearShare has more than 53,000 users on its platform, and Courtney said the startup is on track this year to more than double net revenue year over year. The business expects to introduce in about two months a fintech product for its platform.

“We’re very excited on the intentionality we’ve put in, the hard work to get these partnerships up and running,” she said.