Tuesday, Jan 18, 2022
Aletta Behyee owns custom wig-making business
by Rachel Stengel '14, '20
At 2 a.m. most days, Aletta Behyee is working. She is finalizing orders from customers, answering emails and Instagram messages, sewing wigs or washing them, usually in her residence hall room. She is the owner of Hair By Aletta, LLC, a custom wig-making business.
"I pride myself on how neat they come out. It is really hard to make wigs in a dorm room and be a full-time student," she says. "It's just me, up 24/7, making wigs."
Behyee's business has come a long way in a short time. Hair By Aletta officially became a business in 2021 when Behyee registered it as a limited liability corporation. She began creating wigs just two years prior after a friend introduced her to the art. Learning she could use a sewing machine rather than hand stitching them, Behyee ordered all the supplies she needed and started watching YouTube tutorials. The first wig she sewed was "the worst" she's ever made, she says, but she was so eager to keep trying.
"I'm one of those people who is passionate about things and I’ll do everything I can to figure it out," she says. "That hustler mentality is in me."
After hours of practice, Behyee can create a wig in about 20 minutes now. She has shipped orders worldwide and is proud to say that she recently had first celebrity client. Behyee created a custom, braided wig for JT, a member of the duo City Girls. Behyee posted a TikTok about her experience and saw her views skyrocket — more than 1 million views on that post alone.
"I cried after I delivered her wig because I worked so hard and I'm finally seeing the pay off," Behyee says. "My grandma called me, when she heard, to say she’s so proud of me. Now [my family] understands that I have my own business."
Growing up in Africa until age 6, hairstyling has been a part of Behyee's life for as long as she can remember.
"I've always been doing hair," she says. "With a lot of African kids, we're taught how to do hair and cook. Growing up in Africa, I would practice with my cousins and then I started braiding friends' hair."
A criminal justice major at Rider and first-generation college student, Behyee plans to attend cosmetology school after graduating. She wants to expand her business to include hairstyling as well. After feeling some pandemic burnout over the summer, Behyee spoke to her adviser, Dr. Sarah Trocchio, who encouraged her to pursue some business electives. She credits the class Innovation and Entrepreneurship for helping her formalize Hair By Aletta, LLC. Taught by Professor Robert D'Avanzo, co-director of Rider's global supply chain program, the course introduces students to the concept of an entrepreneurial mindset.
"The class was amazing," Behyee says. "I learned about taxes and accounting, and Professor D'Avanzo really pushed me to where I needed to go to have my own business. I've been an entrepreneur before I knew the word for it."