Raise your hand if eyelash extensions have completely changed your life! Whether for a special event, for warmer climates where makeup melts off your face, or for that everyday “put-together” feeling, more and more people have begun to include them in their looks. In recent years, eyelash extensions have become a small business option that people can operate out of their own homes. How much do you know about this industry? I recently had the privilege of speaking with two extremely talented home-based lash artists to get a better understanding of the world of lashes from their perspectives.
HCUO: Why did you choose to build a career in the lash industry? What stood out to you? What intrigued you?
Danica Padilla, owner of Wink Lashes By Dee: “Way before stepping into the lash industry three years ago, I used to get my lashes done from time to time and I soon became obsessed with them! It was fairly new… but you could definitely see that the lash industry was blowing up. I loved how easy it was to get ready for the day, to be able to look nice and put-together in such a short amount of time and with minimal [makeup or] no makeup at all. I think a lot of girls who get lash extensions done are drawn to them for those same reasons. To be completely honest, I decided to take my first lash course because it was a new year and I wanted to learn something new. I knew that I was very good with hands-on tasks and had a very keen eye [for] detail, so I thought I had nothing to lose… After that first course, I could see why lash technicians charge [a lot] for what they do — the job entails looking down for hours at a time, making fans with precise movements and isolating the natural lashes down to a single lash. My back, neck and hands were aching after that first day! I grew a different type of respect for all lash technicians. What intrigued me so much [about the industry] was the fact that you could take someone who [has]… always wished to have a longer and fuller set of natural lashes [and] provide them with fuller and longer lashes. The best part is having the client walk away with a big smile on their face and a new-found confidence in themselves.”
Sandra Fossella, owner of Sella Lash: “I had always gotten my eyelashes done prior to me thinking about becoming a technician. I would often sit through my appointments thinking about how lucky my technician was that she had her own business and that she had acquired a skill that could make her a good amount of revenue. Then I started thinking to myself — if someone else can do this, why can’t I? I realized that the only person in the way of me creating my own business and being successful… was myself. The reason I chose to do lashes was because lashes were the beauty-related thing I love[d] to get done the most. Some people get their nails or hair done every few weeks, but for me, it was my lashes! I loved everything about the process of creating sets and making others feel more confident about themselves. Not that I [have] ever thought of lash extensions as a necessity to make myself or others look better, but there is something about having a perfect set around your eyes that makes you feel good.”
HCUO: What are your thoughts on the lash artistry community? Do you find it competitive? Supportive?
Padilla: “The lash artistry community is amazing! From the outside, it may seem very competitive, as there are now so many lash technicians in the city and around the world. But having so many lash techs in the industry is great, as we can all learn from one another. There are so many lash forums and groups you can join… [to] promote your work, promote other people’s work, ask questions about products, [and] learn new knowledge in the industry. The lash industry is very loving and accepting. At the end of the day, I think no matter if you’re in the lash industry from a career or hobby standpoint, we all help each other through our struggles and praise each other for our accomplishments and successes. If you’re willing to show other lash techs love, you’ll receive it 10x back.”
Fossella: “It can always be intimidating starting [in] a new field and establishing yourself. However, I found that the lash community was a very welcoming [community] that I was glad to be a part of. Many of the men and women are supportive, so I never had a problem with asking others for business or technique advice. I feel like the lash industry is also a very positive, uplifting place. Being as saturated as it is, you would expect it to be very competitive; however, I just found the other lash artists I have come across to want everyone to succeed.”
HCUO: What challenges did you face pre-pandemic in terms of building your lash business? How has the pandemic changed or added to these challenges?
Padilla: “[A] challenge I faced pre-pandemic was always trying to get my work out there [to] promote my lash business. I’m not the best when it comes to being active on social media… so the marketing aspect of my lash business was always a challenge. The pandemic has made it even more of a challenge to put my business out there. Due to the COVID restrictions, I am unable to take in clients, and therefore practice and showcase my work. It’s a lot harder to come up with new content and ideas for my lash business. In order to put yourself out there and promote your business, you need to consistently be posting new things [to] keep your followers engaged, so it’s an even bigger challenge when you don’t have clients coming in. However, the pandemic [has also been] a blessing in disguise for a lot of small businesses. The support for small businesses in the city has been crazy and I’m so happy to see people shopping small. There were so many people laid off from their jobs, so a lot of people [have] turned to their own passions and talents to generate some income.”
Fossella: “I started my lash business in December of 2019, so I only had about three months before the world went into lockdown. I think the challenges I faced pre-pandemic were challenges that many people face when first starting out a client-based business. Finding clients and perfecting my technique [were] challenges I had when starting my business for sure. It seemed as though many people I knew were committed to their lash technicians, so I needed to find clientele of my own. As you start to get clients, word of mouth and recommendations go around and clients start coming to you — it is a great feeling! The pandemic added to these challenges and also took away from them. On one hand, many of my clients did not want to get their lashes done during the pandemic, which was 100% understandable. On the other hand, I was getting more clients because after being closed for so long, everyone wanted to get their lashes, hair, [and] nails done. Overall, there were good things and bad things that came out of it!”
HCUO: What are some issues that arise in the lash industry?
Padilla: “[One issue ] that I disagree with… [is] the relatively cheap prices [of] $120 and under. Lash extensions are meant to be a luxury service, and — believe it or not — the market price for lashes is anywhere from $150-$300 for a full set. Nowadays, you see… lash technicians offer lash services at prices nowhere near the market price. This includes low pricing for lash courses as well… Not only [does this] devalue the industry, [it also lowers the] standards for the industry. Of course, experience, qualifications and products used contribute to pricing; but with these significantly lower prices, lash extensions are not generally seen as “luxury” now. You end up attracting people looking to get lashes for cheap, regardless of the quality they’ll be getting, and… people always [looking] for promotions and discounts… On the topic of devaluing the lash industry, a lot of people who aren’t in the lash industry don’t see this as a legit job. They see [it] as something to make quick money… As such, the seriousness of making lashes as a real career choice diminishes and there [are many] lash techs that don’t produce quality work… I’ve even come across some lash techs that weren’t certified! Currently, there are no regulations in Canada regarding who can apply lash extensions or the products that can be used — this is so scary! Because of this, anyone [can] apply lash extensions if they want to, [which] further devalue[es] the lash industry.”
Fossella: “There are not many issues… but I [have] found [that] there are a lot of uncertified technicians that do lashes. The reason this can become an issue is because people go to them to get their lashes done, and — more times than not — these people are using products that are harmful to the eyes and [are using] poor technique. These uncertified technicians damage clients’ eyes and then they come to us after and we have to take clumps of their lashes out. It is scary having to deal with the aftermath of someone putting bad glue — or even nail glue! — on people’s eyelashes and [us] having to take them off.”
HCUO: If you could go back to when you first began lashing, what would you do differently? What would you keep the same?
Padilla: “If I could go back to when I first started lashing, I would tell myself to not be hesitant about putting myself out there, and to not worry about the “what ifs.” I’d want to post more consistently and be more active on social media. Like any other business, the first few months were the hardest! There were many moments where I wanted to give up and doubted myself, but I never gave up and always pushed myself. I want to keep that motivation and drive I had when I first began lashing… throughout the growth of my lash business.”
Fossella: “If I could go back in time, I think I would research more about the products I us[e] before buying them from lash suppliers. I have wasted a lot of money on supplies that did not end up working out… and I wish I would have researched more so [that] I could [have found] my holy-grail lash supply brand sooner. Other than that, I would keep everything I did the same!”
HCUO: What advice would you give someone who is interested in beginning a career/side hustle in lashes?
Padilla: “If you’re reading this article and have been contemplating… a career/side hustle in lashes — or any career/side hustle for that matter — this is your sign! Take that lash course you’ve been thinking of taking… [Here is] some advice [I would give] to someone interested in beginning a career/side hustle in lashes. Get certified through a reputable academy/person [and] research everything about them prior to registering for their lash course. Always invest in yourself and your business. Never stop learning; knowledge is power. Never give up! Remind yourself daily who you’re doing this for: yourself! Your ambition should be happiness, not financial wealth. Keep working with purpose. Celebrate every tiny success in your business.”
Fossella: “My advice for someone who is just starting out in the lash industry or [in] any related beauty industry is to just go for it! You never know how much you are capable of until you put yourself out there. Also, another thing I would say is make sure you are starting your business for the right reasons. I feel like I have seen many people come into the industry for the wrong reasons, and they end up not being honest with their clients [in order] to make money. Other than that… have boundaries with your clients and your friends. Many people expect free [or] discounted lash sets just because you are friends with them! True friends will support you without having to ask for free sets [or] discounts every single time.”
HCUO: What are your plans for the future? How do you plan on overcoming the struggles of the pandemic? Do you plan on adding to your business? Do you see lashing as a potential career for you?
Padilla: “I have a lot of plans for my future in the lash industry! I plan to carry my own brand of lash products soon. Post-pandemic, I’ll be going harder and stronger than ever! The pandemic [has] forced me to close and although I was unable to lash, I’ve been working on many things behind the scenes. Not being able to lash my clients was the biggest struggle of the pandemic. I went from being so busy, booked-up schedule, to doing nothing at all. So I’m putting that energy [into] working on my brand and making my lash studio the most comfortable it can be for my clients when they come back. I [also] have some brow services that I’ve recently added to my business! Who knows what I’ll be adding next — the beauty industry is always growing! I definitely see lashing as a career for me. It’s something that I’ve already invested so much of my time, energy, and money into. I’m so happy with what I do and I can’t wait to see where this takes me!”
Fossella: “My plans for future in the lash industry would be to grow my business even more and to continue to do what I love. I do not know what is going to happen in terms of the pandemic — I mean, none of us really do — but I do plan to continue doing lashes when the government gives us the green light. I also plan on adding services to my business in the future [that] I think my clients would love. I do see lashing as a career for me, for sure. I am in university for communications and marketing, so of course I can use [the] skills I have obtained from that to grow my business. I love what I do right now and I think I will be sticking to it until other opportunities come [around]. I am not one to plan things so far ahead into the future; I usually take things as they come, so we will see where this leads me career wise!”