Group shot of the three co-founders of Waeve, Tiiso McGinty, Mary Imevbore and Susana Hawken.
Waeve co-founders Tiiso McGinty, Mary Imevbore and Susana Hawken strive to give back to the Black community through their innovative wigs and beauty accessories. — Waeve

When Mary Imevbore, CEO of Waeve, decided to start a business with her friends and college classmates Tiiso McGinty and Susana Hawken, she knew they would have a lot to learn.

“Always, always continue to learn more,” said Imevbore of her business journey. “I listened to entrepreneurial podcasts, educated myself and connected with mentors, which ultimately led me to finding my investors.”

If not for this trio’s passion for learning and self-improvement, their lifestyle brand and wig company may not be where it is today. Here’s how Imevbore and her co-founders used knowledge and personal experience to fill a gap in the market for Black women while giving back to their community.

Supporting Black women from within the community

Waeve is a lifestyle brand that offers high-quality, ready-to-wear real and synthetic wigs to help Black women turn their hair into a form of self-expression, without spending hours in a salon chair.

In addition to providing innovative beauty products, Waeve also donates a portion of its revenue to organizations that support Black women, like Black Girls Code.

“Our motto of “Feel Good Hair” is not only a reclamation of agency in beauty, but a manifesto dedicated to looking good, feeling good and doing good,” Imevbore said. “We're committed to furthering the overall advancement of Black girls and want to embody the full and complex spectrum of Black identity in our activism while working with the right institutions to effect change.”

[Read more: 10 Resources for Black-Owned Businesses]

Once we showed them the missing gap in this industry and the vision of what the future of beauty could look like, they were fully on board with the drive to actualize it.

Mary Imevbore, co-founder and CEO of Waeve

Earning a landmark investment deal

Despite the founders having no prior experience in raising investor capital, Waeve recently earned a successful round of $2 million in seed funding.

“When we spoke with investors, there was a real learning curve that we had to teach to show why there was a need for Waeve,” Imevbore told CO—. “Once we showed them the missing gap in this industry and the vision of what the future of beauty could look like, they were fully on board with the drive to actualize it."

Securing funding wasn’t just a win for Waeve; Imevbore described it as a “landmark moment” for Black women in business.

“For the first time ever, three young Black women under the age of 30 have independently secured $2 million for a business that specifically caters to Black consumers,” Imevbore said. “We’re creating something completely new that no other brand is doing. There is no wig company like us that offers ready-to-wear wigs with this unique shopping experience.”

[Read more: 9 Funding Options for Black-Owned Businesses]

Making ‘waeves’ and planning for future growth

To grow and expand their business, the co-founders plan to focus on their current collection and gain insight from customers’ feedback in order to plan future collections.

“We want to empower Black girls to have fun with our wigs — wear them loud and proud and change up their hair as often as they change their clothes!”

To other aspiring business owners out there, Imevbore advises them to “go after any opportunity, because you never know what they’ll lead to.”

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