Waeve Is Changing the Way Black Women Experiment With Wigs

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When they arrived at Williams—a small liberal arts college in the Berkshires whose closest town has a population of 13,000—co-founders Imevbore and Tiiso McGinty both realized that caring for their natural hair was going to take some creative scrappiness. They turned to each other, then to the web.

“Tiiso and I instantly became best friends, and sort of bonded over the fact that we both had braids in,” says Imevbore. “We were both like, what are we going to do? We’re going to have to take them out at some point and there’s nowhere for us to get our hair done.” After a couple years of YouTube tutorials, slicked back space buns, and ponytails, the two discovered wigs. A passion for lace fronts, u-parts, and customizable units was sparked.

Finding a wig online, however, is a notoriously complicated process. “I turned to the internet as any person our age would do when trying to shop for something. And it became so clear to me that there was no good place to buy wigs. I was, you know, being told to look at AliExpress, where a lot of people buy wigs and it’s like this huge marketplace—like millions of vendors with totally disparate pricing, you have no idea how to know what’s going to be good, and all of them are telling you they’re not going to arrive for like at least a month,” Imevbore recalls. Many vendors photoshop high-profile Black women to look like they’re wearing their wigs, marketing them as ambassadors, which can easily trap unknowing customers into buying poorly styled, fragile and itchy units that are better suited in the trash than on someone’s head.

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When Imevbore graduated in 2018, she, along with McGinty and their friend Susana Hawken held on to the desire to disrupt this system. As they went off to work in different fields—Imevbore had pivoted from pre-law to software engineering—the trio used the $15,000 they won through the Williams Business Plan Challenge to bring Waeve to life. After a couple years of prototyping different models and pitching to new investors—to date, Waeve has raised two million in funding, backed by industry heavyweights including Henry Davis and Bryan Mahoney, former COO and CTO of Glossier respectively—the startup was finally ready to make its debut.

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