North Texas resident Yummie O. has always been a beauty enthusiast. Growing up in Lagos, Nigeria, she loved playing with texture and movement in long hair. However, Yummie, who prefers to go by just her first name, had a problem. She’s never been able to grow her hair long.
So, early on, Yummie turned to wigs and extensions. “I’ve been wearing hair extensions for as long as I can remember,” she says. As she grew up, she developed a passion for styling long hair, becoming the “go-to person for all-things-hair” in her family.
For a long time, though, it was just a passion. Yummie moved to U.S. in the late ’90s to attend the University of Houston. She started working in IT and moved to Dallas a decade later. She thought she would always stay in corporate world, but after her second daughter was born, she wanted something different.
In 2010, her mother suggested she start a hair extensions company. Three years later, she launched Yummy Extensions, a luxury hair company selling everything from wigs to braiding hair to tape-ins.
Before launching, Yummie spent two years researching products. In 2010, she ordered her first shipment of wavy hair extensions from overseas. She got it sewn into her own hair, and slept, showered, swam, and lived in it. “I wanted to test the product,” she says. “I wanted to put it on my head. I wanted to color it.” She asked her friends and family to do the same—wear it for three months, she asked them, and give her their feedback. She went through a lot of testing, Yummie says, but she wanted to make sure she was filling a hole in the industry.
Although wigs and hair extensions are a multi-billion-dollar industry worldwide, Yummie says there weren’t many options a decade ago, especially for real hair products. She knew she wanted to offer products made from natural hair versus synthetic hair. “You can basically treat it like it’s your own hair,” Yummie says of natural hair products. “You can color, flat iron, and curl it. Anything you really want to do with your natural hair, you can do with raw natural hair extensions.”
Cut from a donor, natural hair is more versatile and can last years longer than synthetically made hair products. While considerably cheaper—natural hair wigs can cost thousands of dollars—synthetic hair doesn’t offer as many styling opportunities, sometimes only lasts one install, and can potentially melt if styled with heat products.
Yummy Extensions offers around 100 hair products ranging from 12-inch weft extensions for $115 to a 24-inch curly full lace wig for $1,595. Yummie sources hair from various countries in Southeast Asia, including Cambodia and Laos. “The hair itself is absolutely beautiful,” she says. Plus, she’s able to get a variety of strand thicknesses, shades of browns and blacks, and different textures. “The options are endless.”
Since she launched 10 years ago, Yummy has reached 100,000 women, she says, including purchases from celebrities like Angela Bassett, Skai Jackson, and Saweetie. Yummie opened a retail store in Richardson in 2016. She moved that store’s location to Preston Road in 2018 and opened a second retail shop in Brooklyn, New York, in 2019.
In 2020, Yummie launched KOSA Professionals, a heat tool company to work with her hair products. There are plenty of heat tools on the market, Yummie says, but not all of them work well with extensions “because they may damage the hair and because of the quality of the plates.” KOSA currently offers a selection of infrared straighteners, a curling iron set, and a blow dryer set. Yummie says they plan to offer more curling irons, blow dryers, and other hair products as the company grows.
But, besides hair and hair tools, Yummie wants to use her company to spread women’s empowerment to her clientele. She has awarded $50,000 in grants to other women entrepreneurs. And she wants to foster confidence in her young follower community, whom she calls Yummy Girls. “We’re not just here to sell you hair,” says Yummie. “We’re here to have impact in your life.”