Yummie O. has a closet full of hair. Her extensions and wigs are sorted and labeled into various boxes so she can always find the style she’s looking for.
“Since I was a little girl, I’ve always loved long hair,” Yummie, who prefers to go by her first name, said. “Even though God didn’t bless me with long hair, but I’ve always admired that.”
Her love for beauty led her to leave her decade-long career in information technology in 2013 to open Yummy Extensions, a luxury hair brand based in Dallas. (The difference in spelling between her company and her name was to make it easier on shoppers, she said.)
A year after the company launched, the hair label hit its first $1 million in revenue, and it continues to grow, Yummie said, and there’s a second storefront now open in Brooklyn, N.Y.
Like Yummie’s other clients, the celebrities sporting her pieces are what she calls “Yummy Girls” —or women who want the best for themselves and won’t settle. “She’s going to go out there and get it,” she said.
It’s a mantra she practiced herself. Yummie was born in Lagos, Nigeria, and left to study at the University of Houston.
Before she had any inventory or models, Yummie used stock photos of celebrities on Facebook to market looks she knew would be possible with the extensions she’d make. When she got her first order, her business was in swing.
It took weeks to fill that first order because she custom-made the extensions.
“I literally prayed on the package of it and I said, ‘Lord, please let her love it,” Yummie said.
The first batch of inventory she ordered was 10 hair pieces from Southeast Asia. A few were reserved for the order and the rest were for her, her mom and her sister.
“If Yummie wouldn’t wear it, we’re not selling it,” Yummie said.
Nearly a decade ago when Yummy Extensions first started, there were few extensions that catered to Black hair textures, Yummie said.
Despite Black consumers being responsible for more than $6.6 billion of beauty sales across the U.S. last year, or 11% of total beauty spending, the group is three times more likely to be dissatisfied than non-Black consumers with their options for hair care, skincare and makeup, according to June research from McKinsey & Company.
It’s why Yummie wanted to ensure she had extensions with textures that would match hair patterns across many textures. “The gap was there and it still continues to be there,” she said.
Raw hair wigs and extensions can routinely scale up to $700 in cost, so Yummie said she made sure her products were worth the investment and would be wearable over and over again.
“I’ve always been a hair person and I buy from stores, but there was no longevity or versatility in the product,” Yummie said. “So you would buy it and invest so much and then you have to get you know, buying fresh one like every two to three weeks.”
If taken care of properly, her extensions can last at least five years, she said.
Arlene Mangrum has been wearing extensions since she was 17. Despite living in Dallas for nearly two decades and having been on the hunt for a new hair brand, she visited Yummy Extensions for the first time this month through a recommendation from her hair stylist.
Mangrum, 59, said her stylist had not heard any complaints about Yummy products and thought they were first-rate. So Mangrum raced over to the Preston Hollow storefront to find her fit.
“This is the best hair,” she said of the Raw Southeast Asian Wavy extensions she bought. “It’s soft, good quality, that’s going to last.”
The extensions are made from hair that’s cut from a donor, then cleansed and wefted, or sewn onto a super-thin cloth strip. Most extensions and wigs are meant to be installed by a stylist, but the brand also released an at-home line if customers are looking to avoid a trip to the salon. Yummie also launched KOSA Professionals, a brand of hot tools like flat irons and a blow dryers.
A distinction between her hair products and some others on the market is that Yummie’s are not mixed with any synthetic fibers, she said, to better maintain their look. Given that it’s real hair, it can be difficult to source inventory, and that can drive up the price.
But for a lifelong wearer like Mangrum, she’s ready to pay top dollar if her hair looks good. “If it’s quality, I’m more than willing to do it,” she said.
To care for the hair after each period of use, wearers are told to take the hair down, cleanse and wash it, braid it and then put it in a satin bag to maintain the hair’s moisture.
When she opened Yummy Extensions, Yummie wanted to address the lack of thorough customer service or guidance in the raw hair market when it comes to helping shoppers find the right texture and product for their hair type.
“That was really the gap there for me,” Yummie said. “I know I can capitalize on this. If I’m feeling it, I’m sure there are thousands of women out there who are having that same experience.”
Mangrum noticed the difference like night and day, she said. She loved the way the store was laid out, how clean it was kept.
In the past when Mangrum has ordered extensions online, she’s been disappointed by the packing and the product.
“I need to touch and feel,” Mangrum said. “It’s the presentation and the bag that comes with it. It’s the vibe. It’s just important.”