Starting a small business was no easy feat for Ashley Paredes, but she could not have asked for anything better. Along with being a small business owner, Ashley handles being a first-generation full-time student and two other jobs with grace. Even with such a busy schedule, she makes sure each client gets the full Lovely Lashley experience. This week, I was given the opportunity to interview Ashley on what it’s like to be a small business owner, how she balances it all and more!
HerCampus (HC): What is Lovely Ashley Company?
Ashley Paredes (AP): LovelyLashleyCo is a small lash business that I launched this January. I started planning my business in December and wanted to launch it as soon as possible. I currently provide individual lash extensions and lash lift services. I wanted to incorporate my name and personality into every aspect of my small business, hence my name "Ashley" in Lashley. I wanted it to be a fun and catchy name where people think of me when they hear "Lovely Lashley."
(HC): What made you want to begin a business on your own?
(AP): As a first-generation student, my family has nothing to their name, and I wanted to change that. I also wanted to have financial freedom. Having your own company allows you to make your own decisions about scheduling and money. Small businesses care about their clientele and craft since it's much more personal and meaningful to the owner. I wanted others to feel confident and beautiful after getting the ‘Lovely Lashley’ experience.
(HC): What does your typical day-to-day look like?
(AP): My normal day to day is constantly being active on the @lovelylashley Instagram, making sure I am posting either an outcome of a service or tips and tricks about lashing. From there, I make sure I look over my schedule and see if I have any clients coming in today. I am currently home-based, so I would sanitize and wipe any surfaces like my lash bed, lash pillow, lash fan and supply stand. If I have a client booked, I begin prepping all supplies needed during the service. Typically, during an individual lash extension service, you will need a corresponding tweezer, lash primer, glue ring, glue, medical tape, lash fan, lash spoolie/brushes, lash mirror and of course, the client’s choice of lashes regarding length and type. Once my client arrives, I ensure we are still following current CDC guidelines to protect one another. I have my client ask any questions when filling out their consent forms.
Once my client is comfortable, we begin our lovely service! Since I’ve only been lashing for about two months, I take about two to three hours per lash session, but it all depends on the clients' natural lash, the service wanted and their comfortability. If my client is a first-timer, I provide a new client baggie which includes a loyalty card, a business card with a discount code off of any services, a lash brush and usually something extra like a lip or eye mask. After payment and pictures, my client is given aftercare education and is out on their way with a fresh new set! That repeats if I have more bookings on the same day until my day is over.
(HC): What has been your biggest challenge since starting your business?
(AP): I think the biggest challenge I have faced is the sense of uncertainty. I never know if I will have a fully booked week or even have one client come back. Thankfully, every week I’ve reached my goal financially and for the number of appointments. Despite this, I must prepare myself for the fact that this may not be an every-week thing, and that is okay. One day you can have so much support, and the next, it all vanishes. I feel like no matter the outcome, being consistent and believing in myself will allow my business to flourish and grow. The doubt will only discourage me and take away the fact that many people don't start a business due to the fear of failure. People will notice your work and growth if you carry yourself as such.
(HC): How have you found a way to balance running your own business, working and going to school?
(AP): I find this funny because everyone always asks, "How do you do it?" I’m currently working two jobs outside of my business and am a full-time student and extracurricular leadership positions. Trust me, there are multiple sleepless nights, but only two things help me balance everything—the support from my inner circle and my planner. I have told others that if I could describe myself as a quote it would be, "I don’t have time, I make time," because I rarely have time for myself. Granted, my support system always makes sure I don’t burn myself out to the point that I will lose my mind. They remind me to pause and take a break because there are more things to life than just my business. My faith is what keeps everything glued together because I know what I do now will have a huge positive impact on my life later.
(HC): What has been your favorite part about running your own business?
(AP): My favorite part has to be the reactions I get from my clients. Seeing their reaction gives me such a serotonin boost, and it's something you cannot describe unless you experience it. I love knowing my client feels more beautiful than what they already are. I am here to not only provide them with an act of service but a whole experience. This is the reason I continue to lash and truly care for my clients.
[bf_image id="j52gghg4w9t59b53tgmvrm6s"] (HC): What’s your favorite type of lashes to do and why?
(AP): I always say hybrid sets are my favorite! The fluff is enhanced and makes the eye pop. Hybrid sets are a combination of both classic and volume lashes. There has not been one hybrid set that I did not love; hands down, my favorite set to do.
(HC): Do you plan on expanding, and if so, in what ways?
(AP): Yes, I am always looking for new ways to grow as a lash artist, either by providing more services, improving marketing skills, building clientele, client appreciation and lash supplies. I have a lot in store for my company, but I have to take it one step at a time. My next big goal is building my website where I can sell lash products like strip lashes, lash serum, lash soap, brushes, glue and much more!
(HC): What’s something you wish you knew before starting?
(AP): When I got certified by MinkManiaLashCo, they gave me the best foundation to start my own business. I learned so much I did not even think they would go over half the things that they did. Many teach the skill but don’t teach the other important facts that play into your business like building your brand, registering your business and building clientele. They gave me all the tools necessary to begin, and that's what I did. I would say the one thing I wish I knew is how frustrating lashing can be. There are so many different types of natural lashes that you will never see the same lashes unless it’s the same client. They range from short, stubby, long, curly, straight, thick, thin, full and much more like natural eye twitches, sensitive eyes and the number of lash layers that are on one eye.
(HC): What’s some advice you’d give to other lash artists starting out?
(AP): I would say do your research before really choosing this path of lashing. The world of lashing is much more complex than just applying glue to lashes. Find the proper training, so you don’t end up hurting your client. Also, I was taught that if I am not dust, I will not treat myself as such. You will have people question your abilities, pricing, technique and overall, your purpose. If you know what you want to do and how you want to run things, GO FOR IT! This is the reason why YOU own your OWN business. People will envy you for anything they are incapable of doing. Don’t allow people’s budget to establish your service prices; not every client is meant to be your client! Know your work’s worth and increase those prices! This is the best way to weed out those clients who will give you problems. Yes, you may think, "There are so many lash techs out there..." but there are so many ladies out there that want their lashes done by YOU!
Don’t compare yourself with other lash artists during your journey as one. It can be challenging, but comparison is the biggest thief of joy. Give yourself props for doing half the things others would not do. Allow yourself to be vulnerable when learning, but don’t allow yourself to be stepped on, especially when you are confident in your craft. Go for it! I took a leap of faith, and I made all the money back I initially invested. Don’t be afraid of the amount you will put in the beginning. This will be the one and ONLY time you will be paying for anything that relates to your business; once you launch your brand, your clients will be paying for everything. Be the next Lash boss on the block!
Make sure to go follow Ashley on Instagram @lovelylashley and DM her for more information!