When the girlfriend of Pitt alumnus Mike James needed some beauty products at the last minute, the idea for WaySlay came up – or as he calls it: “Uber eats but for beauty items “- was born.
“One day she had to go to an event. She was running after and needed a few additional beauty products, “said James, the company’s chief technology officer. “I suggested that she just find an app that she can use to deliver these products, since basically everything is delivered these days.”
James said when she told him this app didn’t exist, he took advantage of his software design background to make his own. James was a co-founder WaySlay – A black-owned company providing access and convenience to beauty and natural hair products – with Ian Grant II last July. The company started out in Miami and expanded to Pittsburgh in January.
Grant, the company’s CEO, said there were many reasons the company was first founded in Miami. Grant said it was convenient to start in Miami since the two founders were based there at the time and the city was popular for grocery delivery – making it a great place to test out the service.
James said WaySlay expanded to Pittsburgh because the smaller size of the city offered more opportunities.
“The total area you need to cover here is much less than Miami,” said James. “This way we can get to market as quickly as possible and offer full coverage of the city. And then it’s more about working with other stores so we can offer a variety of products to our customers. “
Grant added that he and James were hoping the Pittsburgh community would have an interest in beauty supply delivery. He said they want to use Pittsburgh to test how their service works in different seasons and weather conditions.
“Since launch we have seen that our hypothesis was correct and that there is a lot of interest in Pittsburgh,” said Grant. “So it’s good to see how the city has reacted to WaySlay.”
According to James, the app works with beauty stores and helps bring their products up for delivery. The company has teamed up with Sisters Beauty Supply in downtown and Haarstadt in nearby Monroeville, east of Pittsburgh. The supply stores upload their inventory to the app and customers can then find stores near them and the products available. Customers choose which beauty products to buy, view the app, and have their order delivered to their doorstep.
The app helps small, local businesses by expanding the reach of their customers and offering convenient delivery services, James said. WaySlay collects fixed service fees with every order – so the service can keep a profit margin.
“We were able to help these companies find a new way to offer a sales channel during the pandemic,” said James. “And we really give these stores instant internet exposure, while in this industry they really wouldn’t because many of them don’t open their own online stores.”
Kim Cardiel Earley, co-owner of Hair City, officially said the store started its partnership with WaySlay last Friday. She said the process was “perfect”.
“The start was perfect. Mike did all the heavy lifting, he made it super easy for me, ”said Cardiel Earley. “I just had to set up my account, enter a few numbers and that was it.”
Cardiel Earley said the partnership, while fairly new, is great because it brings additional income. She added that her company has had a lot of positive feedback so far from customers who have shopped there through WaySlay.
“We’ve been telling every single customer since we went live, so I have to say the feedback has definitely been exciting,” said Cardiel Earley. “Most people don’t have a car, so the fact they don’t need Uber here, then Uber back and can just pay a fee and have it brought to them is good.”
While locating beauty items is as easy as stopping at a Target or Walmart for some, an app like WaySlay is essential for others. Yasmine Crawley – the President of Crown culture, A club that celebrates natural hair – said she believes there is still a lot negative social perceptions towards natural black hair. She said this is a big reason why so many black men and women like her have an intricate relationship with their hair.
“It was kind of a self-love journey. It made me realize that I was beautiful with my natural hair, ”said Crawley, a senior psychology student. “And that I don’t have to wear my hair straight to be beautiful or to deserve praise for my hair.”
Crawley said she thinks WaySlay is a great service for people with natural hair and she will definitely use it.
“I think it’s really great because it’s definitely needed,” said Crawley. “Any way we can use technology to help people with natural hair find out where to get their hair and what’s available to them is great.”
Crawley said it was a “self-love journey” to learn how to take care of her hair with the products available and how beautiful it is. She added that the app will also come in handy as she always needs to know which beauty items she has access to before visiting a new city.
“Even something as simple as going to a hotel, I know better than using the conditioner they bottle for free,” said Crawley. “So I have to make sure that I’m ready to go to a new place and look up ahead of time which salons I can go to or which beauty stores I can go to to have products that I need.”
Grant now said WaySlay is available in Pittsburgh. He hopes Pitt students will use the app to get their beauty items.
“The most important thing for us is that we can give them comfort so that students can focus on their schoolwork or other employment opportunities,” said Grant. “You shouldn’t have to go through the hassle of finding beauty items that you need to prepare for an interview, or to give you confidence, or whatever you want to be.”
To encourage Pitt students to take advantage of their service, the WaySlay co-founders said students can use the code “WAYSLAYH2P” for free shipping on their first order.
James said the company ultimately hopes to be the largest beauty products company in the country. WaySlay hopes to expand to new cities such as Atlanta, New York, Chicago and Washington, DC in the future.
Crawley said she also believes that beauty and hair care products should be available to everyone. She added that she hopes other people with natural hair will adopt her beauty.
“For all of the other natural curly hair lovers out there, be proud of your hair, don’t let anyone tell you you can’t wear it the way you want to wear it,” Crawley said. “It’s beautiful and you deserve to be able to style your hair the way you want and feel confident in it.”