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Upgrade snags $1m seed extension

Upgrade, a provider of customized wigs and hair products, has secured a seed extension of $1 million.

Upgrade, a provider of customized wigs and hair products, has secured a seed extension of $1 million. The backers included The Artemis Fund and Mercury Fund, the notable, Bracken P. Darrell and ANIM.

PRESS RELEASE

Houston, TX — (May 3, 2022) — Upgrade today announced a $1 million seed extension making it the only ecommerce platform to offer business and FinTech capabilities within its wig and hair marketplace. The funding was supported by initial seed leads The Artemis Fund and Mercury Fund, the notable, Bracken P. Darrell and ANIM.

Upgrade was founded in 2019 by Britney Winters with the mission to democratize the wig and hair extensions industry (which is expected to reach $13 billion, based on manufacturing revenue). The new funding comes as Upgrade is debuting a monthly subscription service that will assist in marketing handcrafted wigs, curated beauty products, and other digital products and services for its stylist subscribers. The custom-built subscription infrastructure was intentionally built by Winters to empower stylists with the tools to manage orders on one platform. Direct messaging with shoppers, one-click shipping capabilities, and data insights and analytics will be offered at launch, in addition to safe checkout, payment protection, BNPL options and access to customer ratings.

“Through my own personal experience as a woman of color, I brought Upgrade to market as a solution to the broken experience of marketing and selling custom wigs,” said Britney Winters, CEO and founder of Upgrade. “I understand the tensions of funding and operating a company, which is why it’s critical for Upgrade to offer stylists the financial tools and services to grow their businesses and empower them economically.”

As part of its continued growth, Upgrade will later offer micro-loans to its subscribers to provide much needed capital for stylists to invest in inventory and fund growth and expansion opportunities.

“We continue to be excited about Britney’s vision for the Upgrade platform and the opportunity to help stylists deliver an enhanced experience to their clients,” says Samantha Lewis, Principal at Mercury. “Upgrade is truly transforming the beauty industry, and we feel fortunate for our ongoing partnership.”

“Britney is a master of launching and sustainably growing a business, and has long been driven by supporting others to independently do the same. This next-level offering is the answer for Upgrade’s current and new stylists seeking to ‘upgrade’ their own independent businesses, and customers who will now be welcomed with even more options when it comes to expecting and receiving the best,” shared Anya Hayden, ANIM General Partner. “We’re thrilled for the Upgrade team and community in this continued path to untangling the beauty industry.”

Looking ahead, Upgrade will continue to evolve its platform to empower its creatives with the resources to operate more efficiently while also equipping users with the funds and professional acumen that is critical to running their own business.

“We have always been big believers in the vision Britney had to provide a best in class experience to both consumers and stylists. Our mission at Artemis is to fund companies intentionally designing for prosperity for many. We are thrilled to be part of Upgrade’s expansion to offer small business owners the tools and support that will empower them to grow their businesses.”