Motivated by a move to Atlanta in 2014, Sian Morson, a mobile designer and developer who leads Kollective Mobile, recently launched the CAST Beauty App to acclaim during SXSW in Austin, Texas. CAST matches information about your hair and skin type to the weather in your geographic location to recommend products that help keep you looking your absolute best. More than an app for women of color, “certainly an app like this has benefits for all women, and even men because there are definitely those men out there who care just as much about their skin and hair as much or more than some women.”
Politic365 had the chance to speak with Morson about her app, and what we learned kept us wanting to know more.
“What I wanted to do with CAST was offer something to women of color, so when you open up the application there is an image – it’s blurred – but it’s clearly the face of an African American woman. That’s not an accident. I’ve had people of different nationalities open the application, and very few have asked me ‘is this app only for Black women.’ No, of course not, this app is for everyone, but I wanted to make a very specific offering to us [Black women] because there is so very little for us in terms of beauty.”
Morson continued, “in the larger culture its very rare that we see positive reflections of ourselves, and if you flip it around, we buy magazines with white women on them, and we don’t assume the magazine is only for white women. We buy books with different kinds of women on the cover and don’t assume we shouldn’t buy it because there isn’t a Black woman on the cover. By no means should any woman feel deterred or turned off by the fact that there is an African American woman’s face on the app at all. It doesn’t affect the technology. It doesn’t affect the search. If someone opens the app and they’re turned off by the fact they see a Black woman’s face, that says more about them than it says about the application and what we’re trying to do with it.”
Even as Morson boldly eks out a new space in the technology and beauty sectors, she’s pushing forward her vision with a savvy combination of knowledge, resources, and will. And while the CAST Beauty app is currently self-funded, she anticipates a real market opportunity down the line. “We have not asked anyone for money. This application has been built and bootstrapped without any external funds,” she said. “But when it gets to that point, I think what the Valley is particularly interested in is money. I would expect that if anyone invested in your technology, or your application, or start up, what they’re interested in is the return on investment.”
Projecting where the industry and economy are headed, Morson told Politic365 she thinks, “the potential is there for this application to really change the beauty industry, and I think that’s evidenced by the fact that we won the L’Oreal Award. They saw the potential for real personalization. I think that is the direction that not just beauty, but retail, is going.”
“People no longer want to just go and buy something that everyone else has,” she continued. “They want something that’s been created specifically for them. And if you see something that really takes into consideration your skin type, your hair type, the things that you eat, the things that you drink, and where you are, and makes a recommendation that’s specifically for you, that’s a better sale.”
Morson’s drive in creating CAST is only complemented by her desire to create a more diverse and inclusive ecosystem for the next wave of tech entrepreneurs. “When I take off my startup founder hat and put on my mobile developer hat,” she said, “what I always tell people who have an idea for an app is you have to be prepared for the long haul. It’s never a set it and forget it kind of thing. You don’t just launch and then sail off into the sunset. It’s a constant process of iteration and making it better.”
Morson has been iterating for the better her whole career, and we look forward to seeing what else she has in store for CAST.