There's nothing like the confidence that can come from a bomb, fly new hairstyle. I love my natural hair in all its beautiful and diverse glory, but I also love the versatility that comes from rocking hair extensions. Buying hair and then having to pay to get it installed, however, can be an extremely pricey and stressful experience. Who's the best stylist? What's the best hair to pick?
As someone who is NOT skilled in the hair styling arena and cannot do my own installs, I save getting a hair weave for special occasions only. When I heard about minority-owned hair company Mayvenn's new Mayvenn Install program, I knew I had to try it. The program allows customers to buy hair online and then get matched with a local licensed salon stylist who will shampoo, condition, braid down and, install the hair free of charge to the customers. Customers receive a pre-paid voucher via email that is scanned by the stylist, enabling them to collect payment from Mayvenn instantly.
To bring this service to fruition, Mayvenn raised $36 million in funding led by Andreessen Horowitz and Essence Ventures. "Now with Mayvenn Install, customers will be able to buy hair and the installation service for probably 40% less than what they normally would have paid," says Diishan Imira, Mayvenn CEO and co-founder. Though the program is marketed towards consumers, the company is dedicated to helping hairstylists develop their entrepreneurial talents and grow their own businesses. 25,000+ in-network stylists in over 250 cities are now being directly connected to customers in need of service, with Mayvenn fronting the install price. The company reports that some stylists are averaging 20-40 new clients a month because of Mayvenn install. In four months alone, the company has paid out over $20 million in commission to stylists who are part of the program.
As part of xoNecole's I Tried It series, the Mayvenn team allowed me to review the Mayvenn Install process. Read on to learn more about my personal experience, thoughts on the program, and whether or not I'd recommend it to our xoNecole readers.
Please note, this is not sponsored. The hair was provided free of charge for an honest review of the program.
The Mayvenn Install Process
Customers can access the free install program directly from Mayvenn's homepage. Once clicking "Get a free install", you are directed to a user-friendly customized webpage. The three-step process was simple and easy to walk through. First, I chose my desired hairstyle type, which was a closure. (Easy maintenance, please!) Then, after inputting my location, I was given a list of participating local stylists to choose from. I was able to read reviews and years of experience and choose the stylist that fit my preference. Finally, it was hair selection time, which was the most impressive part of this process.
As someone who wasn't sure what I wanted, I opted for the "show me looks for inspiration" button. I chose the "deep wave" texture option and scrolled through the multiple hair styles to choose the look that spoke to me the most. After browsing through several pictures of women rocking the deep wave texture in different styles and lengths (and since I love big curly hair), I decided on a 18" closure and 20", 22", and 24" bundles. After ordering, I received an email confirmation and pre-paid voucher that the stylist will scan in order to get paid.
Scheduling Your Appointment & Receiving The Mayvenn Hair
After payment is complete, you're connected with a Mayvenn assistant via text who helps you book an appointment with your chosen stylist directly. I was asked to send over time and date preferences to initiate the scheduling. To be honest, this is the part of the process that wasn't my favorite. Due to my stylist availability and the customer service lag time, it took me about one full-day to secure a date and time for the install. Being able to view the stylist's calendar directly without a third party would have made the booking much smoother.
The closure and bundles arrived in less than three business days and came in beautiful individual Mayvenn-branded satin-lined pouches. The hair was soft to the touch and the closure looked well-constructed with a realistic-looking part. A curly-hair maintenance guide was also included in my hair package. Having a FAQ booklet was helpful, especially when it came to knowing how to properly prep the hair for install.
The Mayvenn Hair Installation
Writer Rana Campbell
I chose NJ-based stylist Lucky a.ka "The Weavemaster" to install my bundles. I arrived at her Union, NJ salon ready for a few hours of hair pampering. Her assistant, Anjail, meticulously detangled my hair and gave me an ultra-relaxing shampoo and condition. She then took her time (a major necessity for thick-haired naturals like myself) blow-drying my hair and painlessly braided my hair in flat, neat cornrows.
Then, Lucky put in work. In less than an hour, she installed all three bundles and even tweezed my closure part to make it look more realistic. After the install, she defined my curls and did a light style, making sure my hair was LAID - baby hairs and all. (Now, I know why she calls herself the weave master!) The sew-in wasn't tight and I felt like I'd still have edges when I decided to remove the extensions. At the end, Lucky scanned my voucher. Though the service was free of charge, I made sure to tip both her and her assistant, per Mayvenn's recommendations.
The Verdict: Is Mayvenn Hair Good?
Writer Rana Campbell
So, would I recommend Mayvenn Install? HECK YES! The process was fairly simple. I already knew Mayvenn was trustworthy when it came to hair quality. I liked that I didn't have to worry about buying hair and then finding a qualified stylist to install. Lucky came highly recommended from the Mayvenn platform and the actual install experience was pleasant and relaxing. What surprised me was how popular the service was. Both customers before and after me were also Mayvenn clients.
As a hair stylist, Lucky appreciates being able to be part of the program. The ability to attract new clientele has positively impacted her business, she told me. She sees being part of the program as part of her overall marketing strategy. Though the money she receives from Mayvenn isn't as much as she normally charges for a regular sew-in, the sheer number of new clients she's able to bring in monthly and re-market to, balances it out. I now have a trusted hair weave technician that I'd love to support again either using my own funds or by participating in the Mayvenn Install again.
Overall, here are some of my personal noted benefits and potential limitations of the Mayvenn Install program:
Writer Rana Campbell
- The hair purchasing and stylist selection process is very user-friendly. The program is great for people who want to try weave for the first time. The technology allows users to have a customized experience when selecting a style and stylist.
- Mayvenn hair quality is up to industry standard. Their 100% virgin hair is gently steam-processed and can last up to a year. I've had my hair in for about two weeks now with minimal shedding or tangling.
- You're directly supporting a local licensed salon stylist. Instead of buying hair and having it sit around, you're able to empower and economically fuel a local stylist by scheduling time to get hair installed.
- Free installs means you're saving a lot of money as well. Most stylists can charge upwards of $150 for a simple install. If you're a frequent bundle buyer - or even want to customize the hair, you'll still save hundreds over the course of a year.
- There's a 30-day guarantee! Even if you wear, dye, or cut the hair and are not satisfied, Mayvenn will still exchange the hair and allow you to try another stylist.
- In order to qualify for the program, you have to buy three bundles. If you want to buy less, then you can't take advantage of Mayvenn Install.
- You have to use a Mayvenn-vetted stylist. If you already have a trusted weave installer, they cannot scan the voucher and collect payment from Mayvenn.
- Installs are limited to installs only. If you'd like added styling, cut, or coloring, you are responsible for paying the service balance.
- The booking process can be a bit frustrating depending upon your and the stylist's availability. Plus, booking is limited to Mayvenn's customer service hours.
To learn more Mayvenn Install or to try it for yourself, visit https://freeinstall.mayvenn.com/.
Rana Campbell is a Princeton University graduate, storyteller, content marketing strategist, and the founder and host of Dreams In Drive - a weekly podcast that teaches you how to take your dreams from PARK to DRIVE. She loves teaching others how to use their life stories to inspire action within oneself and others. Connect with her on Instagram @rainshineluv or @dreamsindrive.
Unapologetically, Chlöe: The R&B Star On Finding Love, Self-Acceptance & Boldly Using Her Voice
On set inside of a mid-city Los Angeles studio, it’s all eyes on Chlöe. She slightly shifts her body against a dark backdrop amidst camera clicks and whirs, giving a seductive pout here, and piercing eye contact there. Her chocolate locs are adorned with a few jewels that she requested to spice up the look, and on her shoulders rests a jeweled piece that she asked to be turned around to better showcase her neck (“I feel a bit old,” she said of the original direction). Her shapely figure is tucked into a strapless bodysuit with a deep v-neck that complements her décolletage.
Though subtle, her quiet wardrobe directives give the air of a woman who’s been here before, and certainly knows what she’s doing. At 24 years young, she’s a “Bossy” chick in training— one who’s politely unapologetic and learning the power of her own voice.
“I'm hesitant sometimes to truly speak my mind and speak up for myself and what I believe,” she later confessed to me a couple of weeks after the photoshoot. “It's always scary for me, but now I'm realizing that I have to, in order to gain respect as a Black woman— a young Black woman— who's still navigating who she is. And you know, I'm realizing that closed mouths don't get fed. And if I keep my mouth shut just because I'm afraid of what people's opinions of me will be or turn into, then that's not any way to live.”
For Chlöe, the journey into womanhood is about embracing who she is, without succumbing to the perceptions of what others think of her. From the waist up she’s everything you’d imagine. A gorgeous goddess with the kind of sex appeal that some work hard to embrace but fail to exude. But unbeknownst to anyone not on set, her bottom half is covered by a white robe, surprising coming from the girl who boasts “'Cause my booty so big, Lord, have mercy” on her first hit single “Have Mercy.”
But that’s the beauty of Chlöe. There’s more to her than meets the eye. More than what a few sensual photos sprinkled throughout an Instagram feed could ever tell you. Just like the photo-framing illusion of her portrayed from the waist up, what we know about the songstress is just the tip of the iceberg. There’s so much more beneath the surface.
Some hours later Chlöe leans back in a high chair as her locs are transformed from a formal updo to a seemingly Basquiat-inspired one. It’s pure art, and at her request, no wigs are a part of the day’s ensemble. She’s fully embracing her natural hair, a decision that wasn’t always a socially accepted one.
In the suburbs of Atlanta, Georgia, (Mableton, to be exact) Chlöe began to explore the foundation of her self-image. At an early age she and her younger sister, Halle, demonstrated a vocal prowess and knack for being in front of the camera that caught their parents’ attention. Soon after, they were sent on a parade of local talent shows and auditions, and eventually broke into the digital space with song covers on YouTube.
It was during these early years that Chlöe first learned that the entertainment industry could be unforgiving to those who didn’t fit a particular beauty standard. Despite the then three-year-old snagging a role as the younger version of Beyoncé’s character, Lilly, in Fighting Temptations, casting agents requested that her natural locs be exchanged for more Eurocentric tresses. Ironic, considering that growing up Chlöe saw her hair as no different than that of her peers. “I remember specifically in pre-K we had to do self-portraits and I drew myself with a regular straight ponytail, like how I would put my locs in a ponytail,” she says. “I just never saw myself any different.”
Chlöe would also learn the true meaning of a phrase that would later become an affirmation posted on her bedroom mirror: “Don’t Let the World Dim Your Light.” After attempting to wear wigs to fit in, the Bailey sisters instead chose to rock their locs with pride, which undoubtedly cost them casting roles. Yet they would have the last laugh when making headlines as the “Teen Dreadlocked Duo” who landed a million-dollar contract with Parkwood Entertainment, and the coveted opportunity to be groomed under the tutelage of a world-renowned superstar.
Credit: Derek Blanks
While that could be the end of a beautiful fairytale of self-empowerment, the reality is that it’s just the beginning of the story of her evolution. For most girls, the transition into womanhood takes place in the comfort of their own worlds, often limited to the number of people they allow to have access to them. But for Chlöe, it’s happening in front of millions of critiquing eyes just waiting for an opportunity to either uplift or dissect her through unwarranted commentary.
Many in her position wouldn’t be able to take that kind of pressure. But Chlöe is handling it with grace. “I feel like all of us as humans, we have the right to interpret things how we want,” she says. “I put art out into the world and it's up for interpretation. I'm learning that not everyone is going to always like me and that it's okay.”
Chlöe isn’t the first artist to receive criticism for her carnal content, and she certainly won’t be the last. In 2010, Ciara writhed and rode her way to banishment on BET when the then 24-year-old released her video for “Ride.” In 2006, 25-year-old Beyoncé received backlash for “Déjà Vu."
"I put art out into the world and it's up for interpretation. I'm learning that not everyone is going to always like me and that it's okay.”
So much so that over 5,000 fans signed an online petition demanding that her label re-shoot the video because it was “too sexual.” Even 27-year-old Janet didn’t escape critical headlines when she shed her image of innocence for a more risqué appearance with the 1993 release of janet.
It’s almost as if public reproach is a rite of passage for young Black women R&B singers on the road to stardom. Good girls seemingly “go bad” whenever they embrace the depths of their femininity, and fans only like you on top figuratively. But Chlöe has learned not to bow down to other people’s opinions, but to boss up and control the narrative. As the saying goes, well-behaved women seldom make history. If sex appeal is her weapon, she wields it well.
On set, Chlöe exudes the energy of Aphrodite in an apple red, off-shoulder dress with a sexy high split. In between shots, she mouths the lyrics to Yebba’s “Boomerang” as it echoes throughout the space in steady repetition at my recommendation. The hour grows late, yet Chlöe is heating things up as eyes stare in deep mesmerization of the girl on fire.
Credit: Derek Blanks
Through music, she explores the depths of her being, a journey that seems to be, at its foundation, rooted in self-discovery. Whereas their debut album The Kids Are Alright (2018) boasts a young Chloe x Halle empowering their generation to embrace who they are while finding their place in the world, their second album Ungodly Hour (2020) shows the Bailey sisters shedding the veil of innocence for a more unapologetic bravado.
What fans looked forward to seeing is who Chlöe shows herself to be on her debut solo album In Pieces. In an interview with PEOPLE, she confesses that releasing her first project without her sister was “scary.” "It was a moment of self-doubt where I was like, 'Can I do this without my sister?’”
Chlöe has never been shy about sharing her insecurities or her vulnerabilities, all of which are laced throughout the 14-track album. “I want people to have fun when they listen to it and to just realize that they're not alone and it's okay to be vulnerable and raw and open because none of us are perfect; we're all far from it. And I think it's healing when we all admit to that instead of putting up a facade.”
The gift of time has given the self-professed “big lover girl” more encounters with romance and heartbreak. Love songs once sung for their beautiful riffs and melodies become more than just abstract lyrics and are replaced by real-life experiences, which she tells me is definitely in the music.
In her single “Pray It Away,” for example, she contemplates going to God for healing instead of going at her ex-lover for revenge for his infidelities. “With anything dealing with art, I am completely vulnerable,” she says. “I'm completely myself, I'm completely open and transparent. So it's pretty much all of me and who I am right now.”
Has Chlöe been in love? That still remains to be said. Of course, she’s been linked to a few potential baes, but dating in the digital age isn’t as easy as a double tap or drop of a heart-eyes emoji. It requires a level of trust and vulnerability that’s hard to earn, and easy to mishandle. To let her guard down means to potentially set herself up for disappointment. “It’s difficult dating right now, honestly, because you really have to kind of keep your guard up and pay attention to who's really there for you. And you know, I'm such an affectionate person and I love hard.
"So when I meet the one person that I really, really am into, it's hard for me to see any others and I get attached pretty easily. And you know, I don't know, it's…it's a scary thing.”
Credit: Derek Blanks
“With anything dealing with art, I am completely vulnerable. I'm completely myself, I'm completely open and transparent. So it's pretty much all of me and who I am right now.”
While broken hearts yield good music (queue Adele), what’s in Chlöe’s prayer is the desire to be happy. What does that look like? Well, she’s still figuring that out herself. “Honestly, I'm the type of person who I don't truly learn unless I experience it. So it's like I can view and watch my parents and watch the loving relationships that I see in my life and be like, ‘Oh, I want that. I would love to have that.’ But then I also have to experience [love] on my own and see what my flaws or my faults might be or see what my good things about myself are. I feel like it's really all about self-reflection. And even though our base is our family and that's our foundation, we are still our own individuals and we have to find out specifically the things about ourselves that may be different from what we saw from our parents when we were growing up.”
Her ideal beau, she tells me, is someone she can feel safe to be her fun, goofy self with, but who also gives her the space to be the boss chick chasing her dreams. A man who understands that just because the world compliments her doesn’t mean she doesn’t want to hear those words from his lips or feel it in his touch. A bonus if he shows up on set after a long hard day of work with vegan cinnamon rolls. You know, the basic necessities. “I like whoever I'm with to constantly tell me they love me and that I look beautiful because I do the same. I am a very mushy person, and if I see something or you look good, I will never shy away from saying it out loud. And I want whoever I'm with to do the same, be very vocal. Tell me that you love me. Tell me what you love about me because I'm doing the same for you because that's just the person I am.”
Until she meets her match she’s married to the game, and for now, that seems to be perfect matrimony.
Credit: Derek Blanks
On stage at the 2021 American Music Awards, Chlöe solidified her position as a force to be reckoned with. It was a full-circle moment. In 2012, bright-eyed and baby-faced Chloe and Halle would walk onto the set of The Ellen Degeneres Show and blow the audience away as they bellowed out their future mentor’s song. Ellen would present the sisters with tickets to attend the AMAs, assuring them that they would be back and had a promising future. Nine years later, Chlöe descends from the sky cloaked in a snow-white cape and matching midriff-baring bodysuit for her debut performance. It’s the first time she’s graced the stage of the very award show that she was once an audience member of.
As she shakes and shimmies and boom kack kacks out her eight counts, it’s clear that she’s in her element. Just like her VMA performance a couple of months prior, and the many more stages she’ll continue to grace, she brings an energy that has earned her comparisons to the beloved Queen Bey herself. An honorable statement, considering few R&B songstresses are getting accolades for their entertainment capabilities. It’s on these very stages, in front of hundreds of astonished eyes and millions more glued to their televisions at home, that she tells me she feels most sexy. Powerful, even.
But off stage, it’s a different story.
It’s more than just the commentary about her image and media-flamed rumors that get to her. Mentally, she’s in competition with herself. The desire to be the best burns at the back of her mind with every performance, every production, and every time she steps into the booth. Before, she could share the weight of this burden with her sister. Being a part of a duo meant she could turn to Halle for quiet confirmation and encouragement without a word being exchanged. But lately stepping on the stage means stepping out on her own. And despite being a breathtaking, five-time Grammy-nominated star, Chlöe doesn’t escape the reality that sometimes we can be our own worst critics.
Over the last year, she’s been coming to terms with who she is on her own while overcoming the fear of failing to become who she’s destined to be. While the world waits to see how Chlöe wins, the real triumph is in every day that she chooses herself and continues to walk in her purpose. “I don't really have anything all figured out, honestly. But what I try to do, a lot of prayer. I talk to God more and I just try to do things that calm my mind down and just breathe.”
To whom much is given, much will be required. She’s been chosen to walk this path for a reason. Once she fully embraces that everything she’s meant to be is already inside of her, she’ll be an unstoppable force. “My grandma, Elizabeth, she just passed away and my middle name is her [first] name. So I feel like I truly have a responsibility to live up to her legacy that she's left on this earth. I hope I can do that.”
There’s no doubt that she will. With a role in The Fighting Temptations at three years old, a million-dollar record deal, a main role on five seasons of Grown-ish, five Grammy nominations, a number one solo record in Urban and Rhythmic Radio, a debut solo album, and starring roles in recently released movies Praise Thisand Swarm (just to name a few), Chlöe’s certainly already made her mark, and she’s just getting started.
Photographer & Creative Director: Derek Blanks
Executive Producer: Necole Kane
Co-Executive Producer: EJ Jamele
Producer: Erica Turnbull
Digitech: Chris Keller
DP: Alex Nikishin
Gaffer: Simeon Mihaylov
Photo Assistant: Chris Paschal
2nd Photo Assistant: Tyler Umprey
Features Editor: Kiah McBride
Special Projects: Tyeal Howell
Hair: Malcolm Marquez
Makeup: Yolonda Frederick
Fashion Styling: Ashley Sean Thomas
For More: Cover Story: Issa Rae Comes Full Circle
Amanda Seales Opens Up About The Changes Within Her Body After Turning 41 And How She Felt Posing Nude
Actress and comedian Amanda Seales is combating beauty standards by fearlessly showcasing how acceptance of one's body, primarily through its changes, could improve how an individual views themselves.
The 41-year-old, widely known for her controversial commentary on various topics, including news and pop culture, recently generated buzz online after posing nude for Women's Health. The nude photoshoot was part of the magazine's Body Issue edition.
This spread also featured other successful women, who also posed nude, sharing their stories about their journey with their bodies and how it helped shape who they are today. In an interview on April 25, Seales revealed why she wanted to participate in the photoshoot and how freeing the entire experience was.
Amanda On Posing Nude
In the video discussion with Women's Health, the Insecure star disclosed that the main factors that motivated her to accept the opportunity were her values and what she stood for overall.
Seales added that because she's been transparent throughout the latter half of her career, regardless of the subject, doing this photoshoot, even with fluctuating weight, was the best way she knew she could be honest about her journey and notes that it could possibly inspire others dealing with the same thing.
"I feel like there's a lot of women who are looking at their bodies and don't feel comfortable, and for me, I went up from a small to medium this year which I know for some people are like 'whatever.' But I have been the same size for a very long time. Then I turned 41, and my body was like 'goodbye,' and I've had to just adjust," she said while opening up about her body's changes.
"I feel like so much of my work at this point in my career has become about my transparency being a part of my philanthropy, and so how much more transparent can you get than just like letting it all hang out."
Amanda On The Nude Photoshoot Experience
Later Seales shared that although posing nude came with its uncertainties, all that faded away when she walked on set and was cared for by the crew.
The podcast host further elaborated that once everything was established between both parties, she was more than willing to do the photoshoot.
"Anybody that's ever done this kind of shoot, you're going into uncertainty. You're going into no man's land. So you're just kind of going with the flow. Once I got here, it was just so quickly established that everything had very carefully been thought out," she stated. "So that makes you feel taken care of, you know. You're just nuzzled against the bosom of efficiency. So once we do that, it's like, where am I posing? That tree? Yeah, alright. At a certain point, I was like you don't have to hold the robe up anymore. We've established that this is my vagina, and these are these titties. What are we doing?"
As the Women's Health photoshoot and the spread became public, Seales took to her Instagram account to reiterate the vital message of loving oneself.
The star explained that despite what others may think, she did the photoshoot to inspire others to be their "full selves" unapologetically.
"This week, my Women's Health magazine nude photos came out. I felt like, you know what, as a over 40-year-old woman and somebody who really is like, all about the importance of true self-actualization. These photos I decided to take because so many of us are afraid to be our full selves. These photos are not about sex. These photos are about self," she said.
The Body Issue edition of Women's Health magazine is on stands now.
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Feature image by Slaven Vlasic/Getty Images