Helmet head. Too Plastic. Too masculine. Just a hot mess. These are all phrases that have been used by women to describe lace-front wigs.
A hairpiece first used in show business to create the illusion of a real hairline for performers and actors in costume—or their alter-egos—lace-front wigs became a mainstream consumer product offered in beauty supply and wig stores across the nation as early as 2000, giving women the option to get their ‘Beyonce on’ in the office, at church or on that special vacation. The units feature lace at the hairline–often in a tan, white or peach hue—where individual strands of hair are hand-tied to the lace to create an more scalp-like look and versatility.
[Related: The Business of Beauty: Wigs and Weaves]
Over the years, the wigs have improved from easy-to-spot fashion faux pas to innovative, natural-looking accessories that not only have people wondering, ‘Is that her hair?’ but offering complements to the wearer and the stylist.
Today, the cost of one lace-front wig can range from as low as $30 to as luxe as $3,000 (for special customization), and the units have now become quite the normal, chic staple among women who not only enjoy the style diversity they afford, but those who suffer from hair loss due to medical conditions or hereditary balding. And where there’s a need, there’s always companies filling it, and experts put the black haircare industry at $500 billion by 2017, with a large part of those revenues coming in from wig and hair extension consumption.
One savvy young entrepreneur who has tapped into the market is 25-year-old Tyann Hodges, founder of Allure & More. A hairstylist by trade, she took $15,000 in savings and investments to launch a custom lace wig and beauty brand that has brought in, according to Hodges, $400,000 in revenues in the first year alone. She recently launched a course series to teach stylists and beauty enthusiasts the do’s and don’t of wig installation and maintenance and the business side of selling the units. Below, she shares five tips that helped her succeed in launching the brand:
1. Get training and stay up to date on the latest hair trends and techniques. “The industry is constantly changing and you want to remain competitive, especially in haircare where there are so many options available to consumers,” Hodges says. “Find your niche. For us, it is customizing the hairline, hair textures and offering different types of lace for a variety of skin tones and needs.”
2. Maximize the art of the visual sale by showcasing your product via a Website and your social media platforms. “When I first started, I’d see lace-front wigs that weren’t applied properly or just looked horrible, so I decided to offer an alternative and train,” Hodges says. “We feature our clients and people who love and wear our products on social media. That’s the best testimonial right there.” Hodges added that she also launched her business first online, starting an e-commerce site to sell the wigs and customization services.
3. Diversify your sources of funding to start the business. Hodges said that she worked in an office job to save up the startup funds, along with being a hairstylist. She also got support from family and friends. “You do what you have to do for your dream,” she adds. “Think outside of the box in terms of how you will accumulate the funds to get your Website going. Source your products from overseas and invest in the best to offer your customers.”
4. Embrace trial and error and practice quality control. Hodges says she gets her product from foreign companies because, for her, they have the resources to accommodate the needs of her business in terms of volume and manpower. “Also, you may have to try out different vendors and distributors for quality control and to find out whether the process, from warehouse to your business to your customers, works for you both production-wise and financially,” Hodges says. Search out vendors via the Web or get recommendations from other entrepreneurs in the industry. You can also get information via hair shows, such as Bronner Bros., or online forums.
5. Partner with others in the hair industry to expand your product and brand reach. Hodges highly recommends being collaborative where it makes sense and embracing fellow entrepreneurs in your industry not just as competition. “There’s enough money out here for all of us, and since the needs of the customers change so much, there will always be opportunities to cater to them.”