Mike James and Ian Grant created the WaySlay app in 2020 to provide on-demand access to beauty supplies. The app partners with local beauty shops to deliver products in as fast as 15 minutes. (Courtesy Photo)

By Megan Sayles, AFRO Business Writer
Report for America Corps Member

Years ago, Mike James’ girlfriend found herself in a predicament while getting ready for an event. She needed some last minute beauty supplies but did not have time to drive to a store. 

“We were super surprised that there was no way to get that delivered to us on any of the existing apps,” said James. He decided that one day, when the time was right, he would find a way to fulfill this need. 

Just before the pandemic hit, James accepted a new job, but two days before his start date, he was informed that the offer had been rescinded because of the Coronavirus. Although he was left jobless, he discerned that it was finally the perfect time to develop an app that would solve his girlfriend’s problem. 

James teamed up with his friend, Ian Grant II, and after three months of development, they launched WaySlay, an on-demand beauty supply delivery service, in June 2020. The duo partnered with local beauty shops to deliver products to customers within a five mile radius of the stores. 

The app began by serving patrons in Miami, Florida but has since expanded to serving markets in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania and the DMV area. 

WaySlay, which is short for “the way you slay,” is comparable to services like UberEats in that customers can download the app, enter their address and locate beauty supply stores in their area. After selecting a shop of their choice, they gain access to the store’s full inventory. 

Customers then add items to their carts and check out, and a delivery driver is dispatched to pick up their items. After about 25 to 30 minutes, the products should be delivered to customers’ doors. 

James and Grant partner with different delivery aggregators to source and fully-vet their drivers, which has allowed them to enter new markets and scale their business. 

“It also gives our customers, more importantly, the comfort and protection that they would want to ensure that their products are being delivered by someone who, at the end of the day, is trackable,” said Grant. “Beauty supplies aren’t cheap so you’ve got to trust the ones providing those to you.” 

While the app has certainly benefited those who need beauty supplies in a pinch, it has also enhanced the operations of local, small businesses. The entrepreneurs noticed that many retailers in the beauty industry maintain a very high sales volume, but are hesitant to adopt the technology required to increase their efficiency. 

Not only has WaySlay helped partnering beauty stores become digitally integrated, it has also given them access to data surrounding their sales that they had not been able to see before. The app has also allowed beauty shops to be more competitive with companies like Amazon because of the fast delivery times. 

“More than anything, is a tech-enablement company,” said James. “We help these mom and pop businesses understand technology, work with technology and not have anxiety about technology. Through doing that, we’re able to provide them with these tools that can really grow their business.” 

In the future, the entrepreneurs would like to provide additional software, including inventory and labor management as a part of the WaySlay platform. They would also like to expand the app to markets in Atlanta, New York, Chicago and Los Angeles. 

“Our goal, ultimately, is to make Black hair care more accessible,” said Grant.

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