There aren’t too many things that you can add Serena Williams’ name to that wouldn’t interest me. So when I saw that Mayvenn hair company credited her as one of its investors, I became interested in their products. Then a colleague told me that the company offers free hair installs when you buy their hair bundles, and I was down-right skeptical.
As a cynical New Yorker who treks all the way to parts of New Jersey for stylist loyalty, I wasn’t sure if this would be a service for me. For most women, once you find a stylist who does your hair well, you don’t let anyone else near your tresses. But when hair plus installment can cost hundreds of dollars every time you get your hair done, you might be willing to switch over to save some coins.
So I had to check it out for myself. And I found that not only is it a pretty seamless process, it’s doing a lot of good for the Black community.
First you go to Mayvenn’s website and purchase your hair. They give you the option to shop by hair or shop by look, which I think is smart. Oftentimes you have a vision in your head about how you want your hair to look, but if you’re not a hair expert you might not know what type of hair to purchase to achieve that. This option alleviates that issue by letting you browse looks tagged with the hair that was used for it. A Mayvenn rep told me that most women shop their hair that way.
Once you’ve purchased your three bundles (or bundles and frontal, you only need a combination of three for the free install option) you can browse the stylists in your area. Before you choose a stylist you can check out their work, see how long they’ve been doing hair, and read their reviews. After checkout, you’ll receive a digital voucher via email to pay for your service, and a text from their concierge team that will connect you with your stylist and book your appointment.
Your Mayvenn Install voucher covers your wash, dry, braid-down, install, and basic style, which they pay directly to the stylist. If you decide to get anything else (like a cut and color), the stylist will just charge you the difference. It’s as easy as scanning a QR code from your phone, and you’re out the door. This was exactly how the process went for me. But it left me wondering how this model is sustainable for Mayvenn, or the stylists.
Mayvenn was created by Oakland native Diishan Imira in 2013, who, at the time was simply selling hair out of the trunk of his car. It’s come a long way since then, teaming up with more than 50,000 stylists in communities of color. The install program is obviously a money saver for consumers, and that’s part of the goal. But it’s also meant to connect stylists with customers so that they can form long-term relationships, benefitting the stylist’s business and serving the customer’s hair needs.
“Stylists aren’t necessarily their own best sales reps or marketing teams—they’re artists. We wanted to create an opportunity to let them do what they do best, and bring them new clients,” Mayvenn’s Director of Community, Candice Basmajian, told ESSENCE. “We also knew there was a lot to be desired in the traditional hair buying and installing experience.”
“Corner beauty supply stores are notorious for bad customer service and sub-par product. And searching for and booking a stylist who can help you get your desired look can be tedious and expensive,” she continued.
Mayvenn’s Install program is available in all 50 states and growing. For Imira, he’s realizing a dream and giving back. Black hair and hair product sales account for billions of dollars annually. But the money is going out of the Black community, as those sales are not through Black-owned businesses. Imira took issue with this and started Mayvenn to create a movement of change in the hair industry.
“Hair stylists and beauticians are the people who make us look and feel good every single day. They’re incredibly important to all of us,” he said. “I grew up with hairstylists in my family so I know what that business is like. I wanted to create something that was going to support and empower that community.”
That alone made me more excited about my Mayvenn install. My hair arrived in only three short days. I set up an appointment with a stylist named Beauty Vixen at Moe’s Hair Hut in Central Harlem. It’s a quaint second floor shop that splits as a barber shop and beauty salon, equipped with the friendly (and funny) banter and familiarity you get in a neighborhood mom and pop salon.
Before we got started Vixen talked to me about what I like to do with my hair, what kind of styling I wanted, and she walked me through how she would install my lace frontal since it was my first time getting one. And after the install she walked me through the care process, including what to do that first night for any flaking glue, how to blend the lace, what to do at night before bed, what products to get for at-home care, how to extend the wear of my style, and when to come in for a touch-up.
Not only do I love my hair, but so does everyone else, as the compliments have been coming since. It’s a really different look for me and I’m glad I did it. More importantly, I’m glad I discovered Mayvenn as it’s a company with high quality product, and I think the install program is genius. It’s also a great way for me to support not just Black stylists for my hair styling, but also a Black-owned business for my hair purchases.
I’m typically cheap when it comes to buying hair and getting it done (hence the long treks out to New Jersey). But this is worth the extra coins for a quality ‘do that also does more for my community.