We Design: People. Practice. Progress.
It took me a while to accept the title of CEO. I had always been in a role where I was supportive of someone or a team, and I thought about CEOs as people who hire and fire. When I decided to take on that title, I decided I wanted to be a leader. The difference is that I don’t treat it as the power to fire and hire, but the power to put people where they want to be. Now I’m building teams, and it’s powerful.
Entrepreneur Modjossorica “Rica” Elysee uses her power and influence for the good of all businesswomen. She is the creator of BeautyLynk, a tech-enabled platform that connects beauty professionals and customers for on-demand, on-location appointments. She is also the co-founder and co-CEO of #AtTheTable, a dinner series-turned movement, where women founders across industries can build community and share experiences around entrepreneurship.
Being a CEO and thinking only about revenue is not the way that I will ever do things. I have to think about the total impact in order to be transformative in the world”
Before devoting her work full-time to BeautyLynk, Rica served as a nonprofit fundraising executive for organizations focused on empowerment and education from the local to national level. She is soon releasing her first book Dressing My Boobs: A Journey in Entrepreneurship. In addition to being an entrepreneur, Rica is a sought-out speaker and coach who has been featured in Forbes, CNBC, and Black Enterprise.
A selection of Rica’s speaking engagements
Rica is a first-generation Haitian American who has realized her dream of running her own business. Growing up in the Boston area, she always had a vivid imagination, earning her first entrepreneurial dollars drawing Marvel characters, and modernized Looney Tunes with Wu-Tang chains. After studying political science and women’s studies at the University of Wisconsin, Rica had the idea for BeautyLynk while helping a family member recruit beauty professionals for in-home services. She envisioned a larger network of professionals and customers who could schedule in-home appointments, making services more accessible for people regardless of culture or capability. After years of experimentation and growth, her marketplace platform now has over 16,000 professionals in its network.
Built to Break the Rules
“I grew up in Dorchester, and we ended up moving to Mattapan when I was a teenager. I’ve always been super creative and ambitious. A lot of that encouragement happened because my mother allowed it to happen,” Rica said. “I’m a first-generation American, the first of three girls, and a lot of my childhood was understanding what it meant to be American. Both of my parents are from Haiti, so they couldn’t actually signify that or do that for me, but I’ve always carved my own path. My mom never named me to fit in. With the name Modjossorica I was never built to follow rules.”
“After college, I went to go live in Arizona for a little while, working for AmeriCorps VISTA. I was fundraising at a homeless women and children’s shelter and doing program planning, creating infrastructure around what the women needed to learn and how, getting donations, and even doing overnight stays four to five times a week,” Rica said. “I was dedicated, and it was a very powerful experience for me. I learned a lot about the system and the simple things that many people don’t realize people don’t have. These are the types of experiences that I’ve seen and that drive me to want to change the world.”
In June 2019, Rica testified in front of state senators in support of the Roe Act, which would expand legalized abortion rights in Massachusetts. “I understand the plight of women across the country. We all want the control of our futures, health and access…Massachusetts has always stood as an example of what can be done with compassion and innovation. Let this just be another chance to show what the future can look like with inclusive policies,” says Rica.
“I Just Went For It”
“I had a family member who needed services and that’s how I got started. I built up the website myself on WordPress, I recruited beauty professionals, and I just went for it,” Rica said. “There was a lot to learn, and I started hiring my first developer within a year. I only needed one person to want it and need it though, and then I decided to keep it growing. I was running a meet-up at the time for women of color called Boston Naturals, so I also had an audience to test it out with. Conversations quickly turned to how to be more inclusive and have other people also use the website. It was a good goal and process that kept it moving further.”
From these discussions and Rica’s innovation, BeautyLynk evolved into a tech-enabled platform that allows people to make at-home appointments with trained stylists, and helps beauty professionals grow their business by providing a customer service system. In 2016, BeautyLynk won $50,000 in the MassChallenge accelerator, and in 2018, the team finished the Morgan Stanley Multicultural Innovation Lab in NYC, and now has Morgan Stanley as an active investor in the company.
On Being a Leader
“It took me awhile to accept the title of CEO,” Rica said. “I had always been in a role where I was supportive to someone or a team, and I thought about CEOs as people who hire and fire. When I decided to take on that title, I decided I wanted to be a leader. The difference is that I don’t treat it as the power to fire and hire, but the power to put people where they want to be. Now I’m building teams, and it’s powerful.”