Summer weather can throw unexpected curveballs. Here in Chicago, I can expect balmy breezes only to be faced by humid, hot air. Surprise thunderstorms can blow our way at any time – ask anyone who attended Lollapalooza in 2012 and/or 2015. The sky will be perfectly clear and then all of a sudden clouds roll in and BAM you’re caught in a downpour. Wouldn’t it be nice to know what lies ahead, in terms of weather and beauty?
Bellas, the future is now. I’m checking out Cast, the first weather-inspired beauty forecasting app! You get beauty product picks, based on your local weather in real time. Such a great concept!
Cast is the brainchild of Sian Morson, an entrepreneur and author who has been named one of the top women in tech to follow on Twitter (according to HuffPo)! Sian is an awesome woman with an island background (Antigua and USVI) and I’ve gotten to meet her in person years ago at SXSW. Cast is live for download in the Apple App store here and the Google Play store here. The concept is simple – enter details about your skin and hair, and sign in with Amazon. Then it confirms your location and the weather, and suggests a range of products you can buy via Amazon for your specific beauty needs. Today is humid and rainy in Chicago, and it recommended a pore-refining gel cleanser, a cream cleanser with glycerin (intriguing) and sunscreen with a high SPF (excellent). I’ve had a chance to play with Cast and also to catch up with Sian to learn more about her app. Here’s our Q & A!
Afrobella – Talk to me about the inspiration for CAST – what led to its creation and what inspired you to make this app?
Sian Morson — I’ve been in technology for over 15 years. So whenever there’s a problem, I try to see how I could use technology to solve it. The inspiration came from my move to Atlanta a few years ago when I found that the climate was markedly different from that of the Bay Area where I’d been living for the past 8 years. My skin had acclimated to the cool, dry climate. After about 3 weeks in Atlanta there was a huge difference. Conversations led me to understand that I wasn’t the only one who had this experience and further research revealed that in the age of climate change, the weather was becoming a bigger factor in the efficacy of skin and hair products and makeup as well. The skin is the first line of defense against harmful UV rays, wind, humidity, cold and other weather conditions that could cause long term damage. And, every woman can tell you how her hair responds to humidity, cold or extreme heat. So my goal is to arm women with the education they need to make better choices when it comes to the elements and their skin and hair.
Afrobella – What has been the user response to CAST? What do they find most helpful?
SM — The user response has overall been very positive and I’m most thankful that people understand what we’re trying to do. People really want to feel like they are getting that personalized treatment and getting products that really relate to them, and that’s where we are doing the most work. The feedback is helping us to make the app better and by and large, people are telling us that they want even more personalization. So, we’re working towards that. It’s a lot of work and there’s a ton of data but the app has had 3 updates and its definitely getting better from what users tell us. A user who was traveled to Kenya often was really excited by the product recommendations she received, and another marveled at just how specific the products she was being recommended were. So, we know we are on the right track.
Afrobella – What do you hope consumers get from using CAST? What are your hopes for the future of your app?
SM — I hope that users get a clearer idea of how conditions around us can affect us. I hope that users are further empowered to make better choices about the products they purchase. In terms of the future of the app, I’d like to see every woman download it and use it! We are localizing for South America, India and China soon, so we are excited about that. But most of all I hope that beauty companies start to pay attention to the women that they’ve ignored for so long. The data shows that we care about the way we look, too. And we’ve got money to spend with the brands that pay attention.
Afrobella – What do you think the future holds for beauty tech, from products to apps? What do you hope to see?
SM — I think the future is personalization and the use of data to really improve products. The beauty industry has got to embrace technology in a bigger way. I’m convinced that technology can be used to make the beauty industry better for everyone. There are so many who are overlooked in the industry. The majority of users of Cast Beauty are women of color and in the short time that we have been live, we are hearing more about what they want, what they purchase, what they use and where they buy. The beauty industry needs to use that kind of data to better understand how to serve this largely underserved community of women who don’t fit in the old standards of beauty.
Do you think this is the app you need? Tell me your thoughts on beauty tech and apps – which are your faves, what are you looking for?