Technology Makes Hair Big Business
When you think of industries being transformed by technology, you’re probably not thinking hair. However, from the materials used in wigs, hairpieces and hair extensions to the way you purchase to the way you take care of these products, technology is making over the industry.
Hair extensions backstage at the Eudon Choi show during London Fashion Week Fall/Winter 2015/16 (Photo by Tristan Fewings/Getty Images)
Victoria Flores spent thousands and thousands of dollars a year buying human hair extensions and having them installed. “There had to be a better way,” she thought. In 2011, she partnered with Leslie Wilson-Namad to form SOBE Organics and Press On Hair Extensions to sell an affordable, high-quality line of hair extensions.
They had a lightbulb moment at a trade show. SOBE hair extensions sold much faster on the day the show was open to the general public than when they sold to the trade ‒ the hair stylist. “Hair stylists keep the prices artificially high,” said Flores. “It’s like a dirty little industry secret.” Women could buy the extension directly, install it themselves or bring it to their hair stylist and save a bundle. SOBE started selling directly to women online.
Flores and Wilson-Namad had another lightbulb moment when they analyzed the shopping patterns of their customers. Like clockwork, women purchased hair extensions. What if Flores and Wilson-Namad delivered hair extensions as a subscription service, ensuring that women always had the color and length of extension they wanted. Lux Beauty Club was born. Included in mailings are samples of products that help you take care of the extensions so they look optimal.
They partnered with priv, an app that allows you to book an appointment with a hair stylist who comes to your home to install the hair extension. For women who want to install the extension themselves, Flores and Wilson-Namad have invited bloggers, vloggers and stylists from around the world to show you how. These folks also act as brand ambassadors for Lux Beauty Club.
“Advanced technology has improved synthetic-hair capabilities over the past five years and demand for this hair-product segment has consequently grown,” said IBISWorld industry analyst Britanny Carter in Beauty Store Business Magazine. Historically, synthetic hair pieces were pre-styled and damaged if exposed to heat. New fiber technology allows consumers to style hairpieces using curling irons. Flores and Wilson-Namad added a less expensive product line, PRESSONHAIR, which is sold at select Harmon stores, a health-and-beauty arm of Bed Bath & Beyond.
Ramona Singer of Real Housewives of New York , is very particular about her hair. She was so impressed with Lux Beauty Club that she’s become a partner in the business and will be making the product a part of a story arch this spring.
“Finding financing is challenging for any women entrepreneur,” said Flores. “It’s even more challenging for Latinas.” SOBE was self funded. Lux Beauty Club is a tech play. To scale, it needs outside funding. They received a loan from Accion and a small equity investment from an angel. More is needed, which is why Flores applied to AccessLatina. It’s an accelerator program that provides access to capital, connections and entrepreneurial know-how.
Based on her own need, Flores saw an opportunity to build a business. She grabbed every opportunity to build awareness about the product and deliver it conveniently. What do you need that isn’t on the market?