Please welcome Diishan Imira. He co-founded Mayvenn, a Black-owned beauty and technology company. He founded the company to give Blacks a greater stake in the $9 billion beauty industry.
Through its curated network of beauty pros, Mayvenn offers a platform for stylists to earn money by selling beauty goods in addition to salon services. The company, which combines an e-commerce platform with services, now employs over 50,000 hair stylists across the United States.
Over 65% of the company’s revenue is driven by its stylist partnerships, according to Mayvenn. For example, stylists who refer clients to the company’s website receive a $15 commission. According to Forbes, the company sold $80 million in hair extensions in 2018. To date, Mayvenn has paid out $35 million to stylists.
“[There] now is a mainstream acknowledgement in the business and corporate community around the significance of [extension] products but also African-American women [as consumers],” said Imira. “And [hair extensions] is one of the last segments in beauty that has not been touched by big box retailers.”
Imira, an Oakland native and HBCU graduate, was inspired to start his own business after visiting China. He travelled to China for a year to teach English to middle school students. “Everywhere you looked, there was someone hustling and selling something. “It was pure entrepreneurship,” he told CNN.
He began his business by exporting sneakers. “I see these Jordan sneakers on the street for $20. I was 23 years old and from Oakland at the time. I thought to me, Holy sh*t! “Back home, I can make a lot more money on these,” he explained. After returning to the United States, he sold furniture.
Imira, on the other hand, desired something more substantial. He aspired to be a major figure in Silicon Valley. This prompted him to go Georgia State University for business school and acquire an MBA. His hair extension business began when his sister asked him whether he could utilize his contacts in China to assist her in importing high-quality hair extensions at a lower cost.
And that’s how Mayvenn got started, he explained. “Because salons don’t sell extensions and weaves, beauty supply companies make millions of dollars selling them. But why should stylists be excluded from the fray?”
He pitched his startup to Silicon Valley investors in 2013 and was concerned that they would be uninterested. “Some people were uninterested. A smaller number listened because it was so far outside their comfort zone. “This is the group we were able to attract,” Imira told CNN in 2019. “Today, we have some of Silicon Valley’s largest investors.”
The company raised $40 million in a Series C fundraising round in June of this year, bringing its total capital to $76 million. Cleveland Ave led the deal, with participation from Goldman Sachs Asset Management’s Growth Equity unit and Andreesen Horowitz’s a16z fund.
Forbes reported that Mayvenn will use the money to expand its partnership with Walmart, creating more in-store Mayvenn Beauty Loungs within Walmart nationwide.