When best mates Stacy Munro and Jennifer Armstrong became unemployed at the start of the coronavirus lockdown, they ploughed all their energy into making their side hustle their plan A.
The pair have been friends for almost 25 years, growing up together in central Scotland and having been bridesmaids at each other’s weddings.
Now they’re business partners after launching Myrror – an app that allows people to privately and securely track their journeys when undertaking any form of physical or aesthetic change.
The co-founders say the app is about empowering people to take control of their body image, with the platform also allowing users to share progress with chosen service providers, such as medical professionals, safely.
Stacy said: “So many people find a picture of a celebrity on Instagram and take it as that is what they want to achieve aesthetically – however everyone is fundamentally different, and that’s an amazing thing. So, take inspiration from those photos, but then enjoy your own personal journey - taking into account the perfect things that make you ‘you’.”
The duo had the idea at the turn of 2020, and things were progressing well when an investor came on board. But when the coronavirus hit the UK and the country went into lockdown, the would-be investor fell silent.
With both founders coming to the end of their contract work and recruitment drying up, they decided to take the plunge and plough all of their efforts into making their side hustle their number one priority – despite each having two pre-school children to look after, which made planning difficult.
“I think the worst thing you can do is p*** off two parents who are now housebound with toddlers,” Stacy said. “That’s a whole new level of crazy. The business needed to work, and we had to make it happen.”
Efforts to launch Myrror then went into overdrive, starting with a successful application to get a Start Up Loan from Virgin StartUp, which has been integral in funding the app’s development.
Stacy said: “Within ten days we went through every single calculation and validated all of our assumptions. We then personally raised the amount needed to launch our MVP.
“Ollie Collard at Virgin StartUp was great at going through our numbers and getting us into the Virgin family. Our application was signed off with Virgin StartUp within 24 hours. It was a total whirlwind and so incredibly exciting. The Virgin StartUp funding has been fantastic for us. It’s given us the confidence to really go for it.
“I don’t think we’d have moved as fast as we did if it wasn’t for the coronavirus, but it’s good that we have. And no matter how successful the business will be, we’re going to run it flexibly. If we bring in a team, we won’t be running it as a 9-5 business. Kids, responsibilities, pets, whatever - we want to be flexible to work around those things.”
Launching during lockdown has come with many additional challenges, not least the lack of time available when they are both raising small children.
“Time is really important when you’re launching a business, and you don’t get a lot of it with two young children to support,” Stacy said. “And you don’t often get the silence you need to think about all the things you need to do.”
Jennifer said: “It’s frustrating, but you have to find the time when you can. What’s been good is the fact that we’re both in the same situation, so we can work hours when we need to and catch up when we can.”
Running a business with your friend could probably test the best of relationships, but the pair believe their bond will be a positive, rather than a negative, influence on the business.
Jennifer said: “As a partnership, we work quite well. It’s important to stay friends as well, separating out the business from our friendship. But as friends, we can be quite honest with each other.”
Stacy added: “We haven’t set out any ground rules, but we have said that we need to talk to each other about things. If something’s not right, we have to speak up.
“We both have similar thoughts and tastes, so that makes it easier. But I’m quite reactive and a little scattered, whereas Jennifer’s good at controlling things, so we’re a good double act.”
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