The global COVID-19 pandemic has turned the world upside down, hitting black communities across the country the hardest. As a result, hair salons and barbershops, which are staples in the African American community, are suffering in unprecedented ways. According to Mayvenn.com, black consumers spend over $10 billion each year for haircare products and salon services. However, many of these small businesses are facing economic hardships due to mandatory closures and state-ordered stay-at-home measures.
To help struggling stylists, Mayvenn, a black-owned tech company that empowers hairstylists in the African American community, launched the #SaveTheSalon campaign via GoFundMe. The goal is to raise $2 million and distributed $500 each to 4,000 Mayvenn stylists.
“We recognize the overall cracks in our economic systems often put black stylists into vulnerable positions, with or without COVID-19,” said Diishan Imira, the founder and CEO of Mayvenn, in a statement. “Mayvenn is exploring not only how to support stylists in this difficult moment, but to be a better partner in the long term.”
A number of philanthropists are backing the #SaveTheSalon campaign, including Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey’s #startsmall initiative, donors Ben and Felicia Horowitz, Libra/the Pritzker Family, and The Charles and Lynn Schusterman Family Foundation. Each has pledged to donate $10 for every $1 raised by the community up to $1 million. Mayvenn, itself, has committed to donating $100,000.
“Helping stylists is at the core of who we are and what our mission has been since day one. I take it as a personal responsibility to do what I can for the stylist community during this crisis,” said Imira. “This money is coming to them at a critical moment, and we’re asking for the support of the community to raise the rest so we can continue to provide this much-needed assistance.”
Founded in 2012, Mayvenn uses technology to help generate revenue for stylists by connecting them with new clients and helping them sell products. According to the statement, Mayvenn has paid out over $20 million in commissions and booking income to stylists over the past five years.
“These are difficult times for all of us. But in difficult times, we find opportunities to come together, support each other, and make it through,” said Imira, adding, “Hairstylists make us look and feel good so that we can tackle the world with confidence—now, it’s our turn to give them that same energy.”
Mayvenn, which is valued at $111 million, raised $36 million as of 2019 from a number of investors, including Andreessen Horowitz, Essence Ventures, Serena Williams, Steve Stoute, Andre Iguodala, Jimmy Irvine, Cross Culture Ventures, Trinity Ventures, Impact America, and Core VC.