When hair salons closed in 2020, Joi Wade launched a hair-accessory business leveraging her social-media following. Today she's earned more than $500,000 in revenue.


Name: Joi Wade

Age: 23

Location: Tampa, Florida

Business: A hair-care brand that makes accessories, like brushes and towels, for textured and curly hair.

Backstory: Before Joi Wade launched her business, she amassed a following on YouTube and Instagram.

Wade is best known for her hair-care videos, which she started posting in 2015, that show her testing products. Additionally, she is part of the online hair movement that encouraged Black women to embrace their natural textures after a century-long trend of using harmful chemical straightening treatments to better fit into Eurocentric style norms. She's made more than 200 videos and has 123,000 subscribers on YouTube and 14,000 followers on Instagram.

Jumping forward to 2020, when salons temporarily closed during the pandemic, Wade leveraged her digital success and launched Joiful Bee, which sells shampoo brusheshair towels, and satin scrunchies to untangle and wash textured hair. Black consumers were expected to spend $1.6 billion on hair care regiment products in 2021, according to market research firm Mintel

A brush, shower cap, water bottle, towel
Products the brand offers. 
Courtesy of Joi Wade

Growth: Since launching in 2020, Wade has booked more than $500,000 in revenue, according to documents seen by Insider. Additionally, the brand has 12,000 followers on Instagram, and Wade plans to host a pop-up at the World Natural Hair Show in Atlanta this year. 

Before Joiful Bee: Wade studied public relations at the University of Southern California and now works as an associate product marketing manager at Google. She runs Joiful Bee as a side hustle. 

Challenges: Managing the supply chain was a huge challenge, Wade said. At first, Wade had trouble meeting the demand of all her customers, which taught her how to balance inventory with marketing so she always has enough products for clients.

Business advice: "Validate your product to see if it is something people actually want to buy," she said. For example, she spent the first year doing small, incremental launches of her products to gauge consumer interest.

Business mentor: Wade calls her father, a small-business owner, one of her biggest mentors. He taught her how to connect with customers by using his own experience of growing a company without social media. "I am amazed how he grew his business without the digital marketing tools we have today," she said.

A woman stands near package
Wade and her inventory. 
Courtesy of Joi Wade

Why now is the best time to start a business: "It is only the best time to start a business if you feel as though you are called to be an entrepreneur," Wade said. Owning a small business will be a "challenging, time-consuming, and isolating" endeavor, she added. But the needs of consumers have changed because of the pandemic, and there are new opportunities to cater to their desires, she said.

On hiring: Right now, Wade is running the company with the help of four contractors who assist with marketing and order fulfillment. She isn't planning on hiring any full-time employees at the moment, she said. 

Managing burnout: Wade logs off in the evenings, regardless of whether there's still work to be done, and makes time for hobbies. She also works on other projects, like the book she wrote about getting into college and the travel podcast she hosts called "Melanin and Miles."

Post a Comment

Previous Post Next Post