Posted on March 04 2019
“…the change in how they feel when they find out that this is a solution. It’s amazing and you get addicted to it..” - Carliz Sotelo Moore, CEO
In a special podcast this week, we got to learn what inspired our CEO and founder, Carliz Sotelo Moore. In her own words, she tells us what inspires her and how she began her entrepreneurship, and eventually what turned Wigs.com into the amazing hair loss coverage and fashion wigs retailer it is today! (One of the largest eCommerce companies in North America, in fact.)
Did you know that Carliz started Wigs.com out of her spare bedroom in 1999?! Neither did I! Now, Wigs.com is recognized in the Dallas Business Journal as one of the top 100 fastest growing companies!
So, what if you lost your hair? Would you be devastated? This is how it all began for Wigs.com. So, let’s go back to the beginning…
Carliz’s first money-making memories were of polishing rocks and selling them at the age of 6 or 7. She recalls her accrued 25$ fortune and starting her first bank account. She was truly in business. Born in Alpine, Texas and growing up in Del Rio (South Texas) Carliz had an entrepreneurial spirit from these early years on, so it’s safe to say that Carliz was born to be a business rockstar! No pun, no fun, right?
Carliz has always had a heart for causes. She tells of the need to save the seals after seeing a commercial when she was young about seal clubbing, and collecting donations by speaking to people on behalf of the seals and their horrific fate. She then sent the money in, asking for pictures of the seals she rescued.
It’s this type of self-starter attitude that has propelled Carliz throughout her life and ultimately, her business.
“Working for and with myself was always preferable to the alternative.”
Starting An Ecommerce Business
Carliz always knew that she wanted to start an online business. 19 years ago, at the birth of Beauty & Hair, niche markets were not really represented online. So forward-thinking and an eye for opportunity played a big role in Carliz’s success.
“There was opportunity for the smaller items in the retail market that weren’t really represented yet, and so my thought was that there would be 10 niche markets items that maybe would drop ship directly from the manufacturer to the client, and that there would be some things that maybe would be a hit and maybe something wouldn’t, but my goal was honestly to have the freedom to stay home, and raise kids and have, you know, a business of my own.”
This actually backfired a bit for Carliz, because the wig and hair extension industry were the perfect market for an online business, and so she ran with it!
Since alternative hair was such a hit, she never really got to the 10 niche items she had intended. But, hey, who needs them now?!
She didn’t initially plan on having an office and the business growing out that way but it just kept growing! Once Carliz became submersed in the industry, she began to see a true need, sometimes a medical need for her products. She fell in love with the people who were buying the wigs. She began to realize how personal and important it was for people with hair loss to feel beautiful and confident and have fun in the process.
As the love of the client began to change for Carliz, so did the direction of Beauty & Hair.
During these beginning years, a friend of Carliz’s from Germany was having some similar realizations. A personal experience brought wigs into his vision and although Carliz thought wigs were totally crazy for online sales, she decided to go with these “vigs” (The German accent cause a bit of miscommunication at first – emphasis on the “V” in “Vigs”,) as one of the 10 niche items. (What did she have to lose, right?) So, they went for it! This friend's name is Jorg Moltkau and became Carliz's business partner and co-founder of Wigs.com. (My desk sits near his office, so I get to listen to his awesome German accent on the daily - love it.)
Wig Retailing Industry
Carliz Sotelo Moore, CEO and co-founder of Wigs.com
Without much brick and mortar presence for wig shopping, it ended up being a prime opportunity for an online business.
It’s actually quite funny that wigs do so well in eCommerce, as it’s certainly an item that clients like to touch and feel, or try on their heads, even.
“This is why for us, the biggest focus is giving you the closest experience to touching and feeling it online ….We do our own photography and videos to give you that feeling because it’s true [that a wig] is not something that lends itself as easily to online shopping as some other products but because the brick and mortar presence is so limited, even in big cities - I mean I’m in Dallas and there aren’t that many. And of course, brick and mortar space is different so you can’t have, you know 2000 items to choose from. You have a much more limited selection and so even though it doesn’t lend itself easily to online, it has really done well online."
Incredibly, the wig industry is growing at an estimated 12% annually in North America. A 10-billion-dollar revenue opportunity by 2023. Great news for Wigs.com!
Carliz attributes this increased demand with an eloquent, “These aren’t your momma’s wigs anymore!”
Improvements in synthetic fibers and celebrity fashion statements are all evolving wigs into something we are embracing in today’s society.
“The non-medical need for wigs is growing exponentially. Those of us that are wearing them for fun - and they are fun!"
Wearing wigs herself for 88 days straight as an endeavor to experience the wigs just as clients do, Carliz found that many of her pre-conceived notions were false. She learned about the lifestyle of wearing wigs, how to secure her natural hair underneath the wigs and even that wearing new styles made her feel like she had almost a new or different personality. It was a great learning experience and helped her create the videos and products for clients on the website.
“There’s a difference when you feel like your hair looks good, or you look good for that matter. You face the day in a different way, you meet people in the eye, you walk in a different way, you present yourself and carry yourself differently…”
Wig.com Has A Passion To Serve You
A core part of Wigs.com is Carliz’s love of serving the clients. And this trickles down throughout the company in so many ways. From the sales team to the design team, and even the more technical website teams. The love of the clients is the true core of it all.
“You really feel like you’re making a difference. We’re not just selling lipstick… and listen, lipstick is important, I don’t leave the house without it - but this is a bigger thing in my opinion where you’re giving people their life back on some levels.
I talk to women that won’t even leave their house anymore because of what’s going on with their hair and will turn down invitations to go places. Just so many stories I hear and the change in how they feel when they find out that this is a solution, and it’s not what they thought it was going to be. It’s amazing, you get addicted to it...
Everybody really has kind of grabbed on to that love for what we’re doing and for the client.”
Carliz gives some insight into the structure and development of the company over time to shed light on the inner workings and different divisions.
“Here in Dallas at the corporate office, we have the call center and the marketing department. At the corporate office there are about 25 of us, 28 maybe. And in Kansas City is our warehouse and fulfillment center and an equal amount there as well. So, we’re of course growing but still pretty small. Beauty & Hair is the “umbrella” if you will, Wigs.com is the main website and it is our bread and butter. And we’ve got hairextensions.com and hairpieces.com, BeautiMark...
Hairextensions.com and hairpieces.com are a bit smaller because you can find hairpieces and extensions all over the place. Hugely varying qualities of what you’re finding. But they’re everywhere. You see them in kiosks in the middle of the mall. I mean you can find those a little easier. Wigs, not so much. And the client-base for wigs is, well, huge and definitely in much more need of education and assistance through this process.
So Wigs.com is where our main focus is, and the other sites will just feed in to it. And it’s just a matter of what people are searching for. If you’re looking for hair extensions, you might not want to see wigs. So, there is a site dedicated to that.”
Beauty & Hair is essentially about leading clients down the avenue that is suited for them. SEO (Search Engine Optimization) is important to give clients access to the items that they are searching for, and best fit their need.
Carliz was fortunate to have started Wigs.com during a time when the “barriers to entry” were not as they are now and Google was basically free advertisement. This made it so that funding for her business start-up wasn’t needed. But that’s not to say it wasn’t a tight budget and lots of hard work!
Just like Carliz, the rest of the Wigs.com team is proud of our company's roots! We love that we can serve clients from a trustworthy website that was founded on hard work and lots of heart. The various job roles here have a way of interlinking from one to another, and we strive to do our best to make the Wigs.com experience reflect our passion for service.
To listen to Carliz’s full podcast go here: Giving Customers Confidence in Their Hearts