Tech-enabled hair extensions company Mayvenn is aiming to disrupt the market with its latest funding round.
Mayvenn raised a $40 million Series C on July 13, bringing its total funding to $76 million. The round was led by Cleveland Ave, with participation from the Growth Equity business within Goldman Sachs Asset Management and Andreesen Horowitz’s a16z fund. The funds will help Mayvenn expand its Beauty Lounges, where customers can buy hair extensions and wigs and digitally browse local Mayvenn network stylists to book salon services. Lounges will expand to 400 Walmart locations over the next 4-5 years, fuel a product expansion and introduce more customized services. The Mayvenn Walmart partnership began in 2020 and currently consists of five locations in Texas.
Mayvenn began in 2013. Its business model centers on a DTC e-commerce store and marketplace for salon services, which drives new clientele to its network of over 50,000 stylists nationwide. Stylists can direct their clients to buy from the company’s site to receive a 15% commission for each purchase and $100 worth of free hair for every $600 worth sold. Over 65% of the company’s revenue is driven by its stylist partnerships, said Diishan Imira, CEO and co-founder of Mayvenn. In 2018, Forbes reported that the company had sold a cumulative $80 million in hair extensions. Imira said that, to date, Mayvenn has paid out $35 million to stylists.
“[There] now is a mainstream acknowledgment in the business and corporate community around the significance of [extension] products but also African-American women [as consumers],” said Imira. “And [hair extensions and wigs] is one of the last segments in beauty that has not been touched by big box retailers.”
This is a first-of-its-kind beauty service for Walmart and is an atypical offering in a big box retailer. However, CVS piloted Glamsquad services in 2018 with four locations and has since expanded it to 50 in 2019. Ulta Beauty also offers backbar hair, skin and eyebrow services, and has become the go-to retailer to accelerate hair brands’ growth.
Mayvenn’s customer base is predominantly Black women, said Imira, adding that its product expansions to new styles, colors and textures will help expand its customer base. Creative wigs, ponytails and other extensions have pushed the category into a more experimental space and encouraged the adoption of these products as accessories versus daily styles.
Mayvenn will also begin to offer more customized wigs to customers from within its Walmart locations. For example, customers can purchase Mayvenn extensions and go to a Walmart location to request the extensions to be fashioned into a specific wig style. Mayvenn also works with wig makers within its network to create one-off wigs to sell within locations. Customers can opt to buy those and have them altered to their liking. Mayvenn hair products are made from virgin hair and range from $56 for a 10-inch bundle to $380 for a 24-inch wig.
“Customization and working with stylists is a big component of what we are driving toward with our omnichannel strategy and how we want to differentiate ourselves from beauty supply stores,” said Imira.
Darryl Spinks, senior director of Walmart Services, added, “Supporting diverse businesses is a priority for Walmart. Innovative businesses like Mayvenn bring a fresh perspective to a segmented industry. They are making products and services more accessible while also giving other small business owners an opportunity to grow.”
Walmart has beefed up its beauty focus over the last three years. It first began by targeting DTC brands like Harry’s to bring into its brick-and-mortar locations before launching buzzy indie lines and co-incubating exclusive brands with established companies like P&G. More recently, it partnered with U.K. beauty retailer Space NK for its curation expertise.
In many ways, the innovation within the hair extensions space was inevitable. In the past two years, brands like U.K.-based Ruka Hair, Gen Z -focused Waeve and ethically-sourced Luxy Hair have come to market alongside “The Real Housewives of Beverly Hills” star Erika Jayne’s brand Pretty Mess Hair. The hair category has undergone upheaval with new brand offerings, including more and better bond-building, scalp care, and color products, for example. And the visibility of the natural and textured hair space and thriving entrepreneurship for Black women, in particular, has elevated the Black consumer and their hair needs to the front of the hair conversation. Beauty supply stores have long been primary sources for extensions and wigs, as they have a strong Black customer base. Within the U.S., there are 9,000 shops specializing in Black hair care and cosmetics, according to Business of Fashion citing data from the trade group Black Owned Beauty Supply Association.
In addition to Walmart and Mayvenn’s product expansion, Imira sees opportunities down the line for international expansion and the development of software-as-a-service solutions for hair stylists.
“Mayvenn aims to deliver a first-class beauty experience for women by partnering with stylists and delivering unprecedented economics to these important entrepreneurs,” said Ben Horowitz, co-founder and general partner at Andreessen Horowitz. “The Walmart relationship moves the transaction from the virtual to the physical world and dramatically expands Mayvenn’s reach. We believe they are now poised to become a top brand in women’s beauty.”