Chevmonay Gaines is a Strategic Communications major, Spanish minor from PG County, Maryland at Hampton University. She is known for her positive spirit, wide smiles, style, and her bomb ass lashes. If you know Chevy, you know she is always rocking her own lashes from her lash business, Maha Minks. Read the full article to hear why Chevmonay is this week’s Campus Cutie for Girl Boss Week!
HC: How are you a “Girl Boss”?
CG: I believe I am a girl boss because I stand very confident in my business and I also understand that when I first started my business, it was me and other people who basically wanted to do the same thing, we had the same idea. After the break, we were going to all come back and launch a lashing business and of course just being a women, competition is always relevant and I feel like I’ve always had to be able to be confident in my own business and go out of my way and be supportive of the people who might be doing the same thing as me. Because it is very easy, especially with social media to feel like you aren’t progressing at the same rate as somebody else and it can be so easy to compare yourself. But just knowing that we all have a place, as a woman, as entrepreneurs to be whatever you want to be is what drives me, which makes me think I’m a girl boss.
HC: What made you start your lash business and how long have you had it?
CG: I have been a certified lash tech for 2 years now, December will be 2 years. I just wanted to pick up a hobby that would make me some money honestly. I was working at Hooters at the time, and I was just thinking “what could make me a little extra money” at that time to get the stuff I like to buy and go to the places I like to go. At the moment it was between doing lashes or doing nails where both of them were really really popular. Everyday you’d turn around and you’ll see on instagram someone being a lash artist or a nail tech. And I felt like it would be cheaper for me to start off doing lashes versus doing nails because I used to do nails when I was younger just off the strength of being able to do designs really well. So I thought maybe I could start with that, but the cost of buying acrylics, a drill, was too much and more than it would be to start doing lashes. So I decided to do lashes, because why not?!!?!
HC: What’s the story behind the name?
CG: That a great question because no one has ever asked me!!! I was in my friend’s Kayla’s house around Christmas break and it was the same day I took my training course and got certified. I was like okay Kayla now I need to come up with a name and I knew I didn’t want to do “lashed by whatever” or have anything with lash in it because I felt a lot of people had that. So randomly we were just looking at names and I knew I wanted to use minks but I had to find something catchy that starts with an M. We googled girl names that start with M’s and then Maha came up and the definition of the name was arabic for beautiful eyes, so I was like oh yeaaaaaaa. I’m doing that. And that’s how I came up with Maha Minks.
HC: If you knew what you knew now, what would be the 2 essential things to starting a business and being a real girl boss?
CG: Stay focused only on your own progress. Like i said before, do not compare yourself to other people. You have to realize that everyone grows at a different rate and social media only shows you what it wants to show you. You don’t know the struggles people have to go through behind closed doors to even launch a business or become better at something. Your progress time, don’t track that according to somebody else’s, because you will never be happy with yourself and that’s a promise. The second thing would be and not even to be rude, but stand your ground in your business. You set the tone for your business. What you allow will continue and from the jump with my clients I feel like i come from a very personable but “look business is business” type of viewpoint so that I am still respected. I am not going to take anybody’s money just off the fact that it’s money. If i feel like a person may be negative and you’re in my house (because I lash outside of my house), you can never ever come back again. Don’t just take money because you want to take it, but it’s draining your energy. Make sure that you are having fun doing it. Because money isn’t just a monetary transaction, it’s energy. And I only want good energy towards my business.
HC: How do you manage your business with scheduling appointments, shipping, and delivering with being a full time student?
CG: Don’t get me wrong sometimes-NO IT GETS HARD! Especially around the times of midterms and finals it definitely gets hard. I get anxious really really easily, so when it’s too much on my plate, I’m like oh my gosh. I feel like I’m suffocating. What works for me the most would be making sure I utilize my agenda to the best of my abilities, make sure I have all my clients written down, when I have my classes, and extracurricular activities. I’m a student first and there has definitely been times where I’d have to reschedule a client or completely cancel the appointment and give them their refund back because I can’t do it, because of a conflict over school. I just really try to stay on top of just writing, when I hear something, an event or an assignment, it’s written down in my calendar. I’m a visual learner so i have to be able to visually see what this week will consist of and next week. Also communicating with your clients, because we’re all in school too (most of my clientele is in school), So just reaching out to say “hey this day might not work, is any other day ok” especially if it’s before a huge event like homecoming. I never want to leave anyone hanging.
HC: What is your take on the stigma that “friends shouldn’t have to pay for their friends services”?
CG: I don’t believe that. I don’t believe that at all. Here and there, if it’s my friend’s birthday, I might bless her with a free or discounted set, but thankfully my friends always volunteer and pay full price in advance anyway. But I definitely believe that, friend or not, if you are a real supporter, you’re going to support my business. It’s not even on the strength of me taking the time to do your lashes. I still have to by the glue which is expensive. I still have to get the lashes which is expensive. Even the lash trays that I have to put the lashes on. The money still goes into other things. I’m not just getting paid for my time, it’s also product. Luckily, I’ve never had to explain that to a friend and they’ve never expected anything free or discounted. If that’s your friend, you won’t expect to get anything free especially if you know your friend is worth what they are charging.
HC: What advice would you give someone who has started a business and it failed?
CG: Go back and do some reflective work. Were you active on social media? How did your graphics look? I’m not going to give my money to anything where the graphics and flyers look terrible. You know we’re big on English, so if the grammar is off, I’m not partaking in what you’re providing. How were you conducting business? Were you professional or not? Were the prices too out of this world? It has to be a reason for someone’s business to fail. I would definitely say to sit down and reflect on your social media, how you conducted business, prices. Were you selling something that is already too familiar? How are you making your product different? What makes your product stand apart from someone else’s, and if not how can we make it so it’s different from others.
HC: What makes your business stand out from others similar to yours.
CG: I really try to get out of them exactly what they want. Asking them what look are you going for. I try to explain that not every look will look the same one everybody and try to be very transparent. I make sure that we both come to a mutual understanding on what they want. I make relationships with the clients that I have. If I see them in person, especially going to Hampton people do not talk, but if I see them I speak. So if you were my client, and you came to my house to get your lashes done, we’ve known each other from an hour and a half to two hours. If I see you in the stu I’m going to say hi. I come across as an actual friend and someone people can talk to versus just “oh that’s my lash tech” and I’m just going to talk to you when you’re doing my lashes. I just try to be relatable, genuine and transparent so that my clients can feel like they can really talk to me.
HC: Other than money, how else do you stay motivated to keep your business up and running?
CG: Well for one, I’ve done so many hobbies growing up and I’ve never been able to just stick to it. I would always get bored. I knew with me launching a business I could only get better the more I do it, my clientele could only get bigger the more I do it, and I can take this anywhere with me no matter where I move. Also when I sell my strips or when I’m done doing someone’s lashes and they look at themselves in the mirror and they say “oh my God I look so pretty, you did exactly what i wanted” that makes me feel so good knowing that I made someone feel prettier than they already were. When people send me review or i see pictures of them, it makes me feel so good. I love making people feel good about themselves.
HC: Should black owned businesses offer discounts for “their people”?
CG: NO! Because of the fact that our buying power is so strong, but our money does not go back into our community. We go to the beauty supply store and it goes back into the Asian community. They have carry-outs, laundromats, nail salons. They already have all of our money, so trust me, we need our money in our community a lot. And we don’t really have time for discounts. When you pull up the statistics on it, you can see that black people have the highest buying power, but in our community a dollar lasts the shortest amount because it’s always serving somebody else. We don’t have a lot of black owned things, so why would I try and discount the service I’m selling when I don’t even have the money to be doing that. I love my black people, but I don’t agree! We need our coin. I would expect a discount from someone else just of the strength that I’m black and I wouldn’t want anyone to expect that from me either.
“Thank you to everyone who has supported me or even thought about supporting me. When I sit back and think about how I’ve grown from sophomore year to now and the clients that have just stayed loyal to me, it makes me feel so good. So thank you guys!”
Chevmonay is always taking appointments and consultations for new lash wearers!
Stay on the lookout for 2 new lash styles from Maha Minks planning to launch in December for a Christmas launch!
Follow Chevmonay on Instagram on her personal page @chevmonay and her lash page @mahaminks