Hi Malory, FEM-START is happy to have you with us today! Tell us, what inspired you to start your own business, and how did you come up with Wiwiri?
It all started when I had a big event coming up. I had my outfit planned, makeup artist ready, and, of course, a hair appointment with a stylist I found through a Facebook group. But on the day of the appointment, the stylist didn’t show up, and I was left feeling pretty frustrated. For many Black women, finding a hairstylist who understands our hair can be a bit of a challenge. We often rely on recommendations or social media to find someone good. Even when we find a stylist, there are other issues – many don’t have a clear portfolio, a reliable schedule, or straightforward pricing.
After looking into it, I realized it’s not just clients who need something better. Home-based stylists want an easy way to reach more clients and boost their visibility.Wiwiri is more than just a platform that connects clients and stylists. We’re all about supporting entrepreneurship. We’re determined to help talented home-based stylists with the right skills achieve their dreams by providing them with a platform to establish themselves as entrepreneurs. It might sound strange if you haven’t experienced it, but for many women like me, it’s genuinely stressful when you urgently need a stylist, and you can’t book one. Despite having no business experience or knowledge of apps, I was determined to solve this problem!
What are some essential steps and actions you took to get your business off the ground?
I am a teacher, I had no business experience when I came up with Wiwiri. I did not know where to start, who to go to for advice. I explored various avenues to set up this app, such as enrolling in a minor in entrepreneurship, searching for programmers to collaborate with, and seeking investors. I met many people, connected with interesting individuals, and I started building a team from there. I practised my pitching as well. After that, we delved deeper into collaborations, and right now, we are fully focused on expanding and building our team. It is challenging to find the right team, but we have a solid base to build on.
Was there a specific time or instance where you had to pivot your business model? Or maybe quickly implement changes in how you work as a CEO and with your team?
We went through several pivots, but from the start, it was clear to me that Wiwiri would be an app designed to connect users with hairstylists specialising in black and curly hair. I built the foundation around that concept. As we gained traction, there were suggestions to broaden our user base. I decided to expand the app to include everyone, but that approach didn’t resonate as expected. It became evident that I needed to stick to my initial idea, addressing a specific problem for a particular demographic.
What makes our app unique is its focus on a specific issue. This required a distinctive growth strategy. Looking ahead, in the next year, we plan to expand the app by onboarding more hairstylists. Additionally, we aim to include other service professionals such as nail artists, makeup artists, lash technicians, waxing specialists, and more. I circled back to my original audience and broadened our horizons for them.
You are competing in a billion-dollar industry. You have a lot a unique matching app, and it works well. What is your strategy to stay ahead of the curve?
At Wiwiri, our strategy is centered on a holistic approach that seamlessly integrates innovation, user-centricity, and a steadfast commitment to ease and convenience for people with black and curly hair in the Netherlands. We are committed to innovation, to learning and focus on our users. Our experiences with customers is personal, informal and customized. We want this to be a positive experience for both parties, in person and on the app. We also want to focus on quality, this is the most important component of Wiwiri. We have a vetting process as well for who is featured on the app, the wigs and products we are working on need to be tailored and perfected. We want to avoid waste and, since it is an investment you should be able to enjoy it for a few years so this is a priority for us.
What are some of the biggest mistakes you made along the way, and what did you learn from them?
One big mistake we made was not realising how important it is to market the app well. Even if the app is fantastic, it won’t get noticed if we don’t promote it effectively. We learned that spending time and resources on a carefully planned marketing strategy is crucial. It’s the key to reaching and grabbing the attention of the people we want to use the app.
When I started the process of creating the Wiwiriapp, there was a lot of back and forth, especially in 2021. I had a case of imposter syndrome. I ended up pausing Wiwiri for a whole month, then I started picking it up again. I learned during that period there are moments you will face doubts and you won’t always enjoy it, you need to sit with yourself in order to get over those negative emotions. When i put energy in this project, I always feel my best.
What is your biggest achievement since founding the company, and how did you get there?
The most significant accomplishment since starting the company is the genuine appreciation from both our customers and service providers. It’s truly humbling to see that people enjoy what we’ve created. On a personal level, discovering and embracing resilience has been a major learning curve during this journey, and it’s something I take great pride in. I never realised I had this level of resilience within me, and now, despite facing challenges, I understand my capabilities. Witnessing tangible results is just the starting point of what I believe will be a remarkable journey ahead!
What advice would you give to aspiring female entrepreneurs, particularly those who do not seem to believe they can do it?
To all aspiring female entrepreneurs, especially those feeling unsure, here’s a simple piece of advice: Believe in yourself and your vision! It’s crucial. Surround yourself with positive and energetic people who uplift you. Your unique experiences can open doors, help others and solve problems. Never lose sight of your vision!
What’s next for Wiwiri? What can we expect?
In the coming year, Wiwiri has some exciting plans. We’re working hard on a new and improved version of the Wiwiriapp, set to launch in early 2024. This updated version will have features that our hairstylists and clients have asked for. Our big goal? To be the go-to hub for women with black and curly hair, connecting them with awesome hairstylists. We’re expanding our services to include service providers such as nail artists, makeup artists, lashes, waxing, and more. Plus, we’re opening up the app for sellers of human hair wigs and bundles to create a marketplace. That’s the Wiwiri vision for 2024 – it’s going to be a game-changer!
You can find out more about Malory’s company here!