Wigs have always been a prominent part of Black beauty culture. Across generations, Black people have turned to wigs as a means of hair protection and self-expression. Today, the global wig and hair extension market is booming like never before. Analysts predict the industry will be valued at around 13 billion dollars by 2026.1 That’s a whole lot of money.
The continued growth in the wig space has brought about immense innovation, increasing the types of units available to the consumer and expanding their overall accessibility. But with so many wig options and confusing hair terminology to digest, it can be daunting for beginners to figure out where to start. That’s where Waeve comes in. Founded by three college friends, Waeve offers high-quality and beginner-friendly wigs.
The Brand Inspiration
The idea for the brand was born out of co-founders Mary Imevbore and Tiiso McGinty’s frustration with wig shopping. “My co-founder Tiiso and I arrived on campus during freshman year wearing braids,” Imevbore says. “We bonded over needing protective styles and not knowing what to do with our hair. We both got our first weaves when we were juniors in college. We wanted to try wigs during senior year, but shopping for a wig sucked. There wasn’t a good place to buy one [near campus].”
Around that time, Imevbore found herself fascinated with startup companies like Glossier and Warby Parker. Their innovative approaches to beauty and eyewear inspired her to build a better direct-to-consumer hair company for Black women. “This industry is so big, and it’s growing in demand,” Imevbore says. “We felt we could create the brand we wanted to shop from.”
In 2018, Imevbore, McGinty, and classmate Susana Hawken began mapping out their plan for making the hair shopping experience easier and more enjoyable. After graduating from Williams College that year, the trio moved to Boston to pursue post-grad opportunities and focused on Waeve part-time. By 2020, they raised enough funding to devote themselves to the brand full-time and hire employees.
What Makes Waeve Wigs Unique?
After three years of development, Waeve debuted with six wig styles. Offering synthetic and human hair wigs, the brand provides options for every style preference and budget (ranging from $72 to $398). Waeve’s first wig drop is called “Days of the Week,” which ties in perfectly with the brand’s ethos. “We’re moving into the era of maximalism, and we want to encourage you to switch up your wig every single day,” Imevbore explains.
While there are seven days in the week, Waeve’s wig collection intentionally only includes styles aimed at wear on Monday to Saturday. “We see Waeve as an extension of the natural hair movement,” Imevbore says. “We know, even as a wig company, that many people aren’t putting wigs on daily. The idea behind [leaving out] Sunday is to tell people to wear your hair the way that feels good for you. We also want to celebrate the fact that you don’t have to wear a wig, but provide you with the choice if you do.” For newbies, you’ll find the Monday wig the easiest to throw on and go since it has no lace. The brand’s other wigs include a T-style lace, and Imevbore considers it the most beginner-friendly lace placement.
When you purchase a wig from Waeve, you’ll receive a thoughtfully curated starter kit. The kit includes scissors to cut the lace, tweezers to pluck your hairline, a silicone wig grip, and four wig caps in two different shades. “We wanted to make sure you have all of the things you need to get started if you’re buying a wig from us,” Imevbore says. “Because that’s the catch with wigs. You buy the wig, and then you need to run to the beauty supply store to get all of these other things.” To make the wig application process even more accessible, the brand will also have a library of tutorials available on its website.
The Future of Waeve
Now that Waeve has launched, the team hopes their efforts to innovate the wig shopping experience leave an indelible mark on the beauty industry. “I think we can be the Nike of wigs,” Imevbore says. “Our mission is to bring Black girls joy and celebrate us. The destigmatization of wigs is already happening, but I hope that Waeve can be part of that narrative and help people feel good when they talk about wigs.”
The brand’s mission to empower Black women doesn’t stop at hair. Waeve plans to donate 2% of revenue to different charitable organizations with each product release. As a former software engineer, Imevbore is passionate about uplifting girls in STEM. With the first release, the brand donated to Black Girls Code. “I want people to know that Waeve is not only a great place to get a wig, but it’s also a place you can feel good buying from,” she says.