This Beauty Entrepreneur Developed A Tech-Driven Wig Service That Naomi Campbell And Taraji P. Henson Swear By
Credit: Britney Winters

Like many Black women  working in corporate settings, Britney Winters would spend hours getting her hair straightened, weaved and expertly coiffed to return to the office the next day with what was deemed an “appropriate” style. This worked for awhile, but after the Harvard Business School graduate’s career got busier, she didn’t have the time to spend in the salon. Not to mention she also wanted a healthier styling option than the harsh heat and chemical driven methods she’d endured for years. 

“After spending so much time, initially straightening my natural hair, then moving on to protective styles like sew-ins extensions, I realized that I needed something else to lean on,” she told Essence. It was then that she not only decided to turn to wigs as an alternative, but also to launch her own company Upgrade, with a tech-driven twist. 

“I wanted the brand to utilize a customer-first approach and center their experience from start to finish,” she said. “The brand uses a seamless and comprehensive digital experience designed to empower women of color to get the look they want with less hassle.” 

Almost instantly, the idea garnered substantial support. She shared an experience that made her realize she had a hit on her hands. “One day, I was catching up with one of my good friends from business school, Kate Lazaroff-Puck (who happens to be Wolfgang Puck’s daughter-in-law),” she wrote in an Op-ed for Inc. “After hearing about the challenges I was facing, she asked me what I really wanted to do. I told her I wanted to start Upgrade, to which she replied, “What’s stopping you?” My obvious response: “Money.” Without skipping a beat, Kate offered to give me $50,000 in startup capital.”  

Winters acknowledged this isn’t the typical funding experience for aspiring entrepreneurs, particularly Black women: only 0.64% of them have been reported to raise venture capital in 2020.

This is something that is not lost on Winters. 

“Black women, in particular, are over mentored and underfunded,” she shared.  “I want talented Black entrepreneurs from all walks of life to have access to the same opportunities. 

Since the launch, in less than two years she’s garnered support from celebrities like Taraji P. Henson, Duckie Thot, Dream Doll, Savannah Brinson James, Keke Palmer, Sloane Stephens, Marsai Martin, and Naomi Campbell among others. 

She says it’s because she’s managed to bring a customized, personable salon experience to the virtual world by connecting customers with a network of stylists that work with their specific asks to give them exactly what they want. 

They first start by selecting the style, length and color, then for accuracy, are prompted to upload a picture that depicts the desired look. Customers are also encouraged to communicate with their stylist for end-to-end care. This tech-savvy approach has paid off and Britney says she is committed to helping other Black women forge their own path to successful  entrepreneurship. “Too often, the masses count us out and discredit us,” she shared. “Whatever way I can help elevate and put on for my people, I work to do it because we have to see one another succeed and go hard to support those wins.”