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Wig industry aimed at women of color has a market of $13 billion. The process of building wigs traditionally has involved sitting with a stylist for 8 hours or more. Parfait founders, four Black women, created a new process using technology to build wigs faster, cheaper and better.
Four females have developed a method that enables people to select a wig and answer a series of queries in order to generate the desired look. They’ve mixed machine learning with this to assist with sizing and coloring, while human stylists are employed to make the final choices when required. Upfront Ventures has funded the initiative with $5 million.
Black women have spent hours with stylists building their own wigs, and they understand the challenges of managing and caring for textured hair. The team found that little attention is paid to this market, and consumers are willing to spend significant sums on these products. They also found that existing models lacked the diversity needed for this application of machine learning and AI.
They found a Parfait company. This is a technology company that is trying to solve for the margins by focusing on wigs, which are especially important to people of color. The company has built a digital workflow that reduces the processing time from hours with a stylist at a salon to 20 minutes on the company website.
Parfait’s process involves filling out a questionnaire to choose your skin tone, hair texture and color, length, cut, part style, type of wig and whether you want an adhesive or not. They price the wig based on this information, and it is delivered in 7-9 business days. If you are nervous about making these choices yourself, you can also sign up for a 15-minute online consultation.
Parfait uses AI and machine learning to digitize the wig-making and styling process. Customers can see what they will look like in a specific wig before buying it and the company uses human stylists to augment their AI when necessary. Parfait’s stylists have expert knowledge in tinting and sizing wigs, and they can look at a picture and say if the prediction is off.
It was extremely hard to get investors interested in the idea of a digital marketplace for freelance work when it was first presented. Investors didn’t believe in the space or understand that it required technology to solve the problem. One of the few investors who did believe in the idea was Black investor Kobie Fuller at Upfront Ventures. It’s difficult for venture capital firms to understand that there are different markets that they are missing.
According to Mr. Oliver, there should be more Black investors who are able to quickly understand these cases in which capital is required. He believes that the community should be supported and that products requiring innovation should be funneled to them, as well as the founders being able to realize their dreams. Ultimately, the four founders want to alter the way women of color purchase wigs (and men as well if they want to). They believe that they can accomplish this by creating a procedure infused with technology. They’ve found an investor who supports their mission to initiate their company.
What do you think of this new Parfait wig matching technology ? Let us know down in the comments.