I have a crush. I’ve had it for years. It started with her glasses, because I love a great pair of strong-rimmed glasses, but then it extended to her confident, flamboyant style and all-round coolness.
I’m talking of course about Jenna Lyons, the once-upon-a-time Creative Director at JCrew, and now lashpreneur extraordinaire. (And yes, my husband knows about my crush, but is blithely unconcerned.)
But let’s zoom in on something here – the LASHES.
Jenna Lyons has a LASH business?? Yep, it’s called LoveSeen, has a gorgeous Instagram and a pair will set you back $22.
Eyelashes and lash businesses have been big business for the last few years. A few MLM’s were (are?) doing the rounds, and in these days of online meetings where your face and hair are the only way to impress, you can see why they’re getting bigger (and longer, and thicker..).
Zoom might touch up your appearance for you (you know about that setting, right?) but it hasn’t worked out how to give you luxuriant lashes. so it makes sense that this tiny detail of our beauty routine has been on the up. And if you’re wearing a mask out and about, great eyes have become even more important!
As the quality of the technology has improved and become more accessible, high quality, natural lashes have become easier to make. Less about “big night out only” and more about necessary professional polish.
But how do you even start a new lash business? Do you just learn how to… make them?
Well, you were very crafty, I suppose you could, but let’s go through the main steps for starting your own lash business – an independent lash business, not a franchise or a direct marketing scheme.
Just to be clear, I’m talking about making and selling fake eyelashes, with your own, independent business.
As with any product-based business where there is a lot of competition, and in this case, where your customer can go to Ulta and pick up a set for $5.99, there are two main stages to the process:
Your brand is the first thing that will attract attention. Who are you aiming your lashes at (so to speak!)? Who is your dream customer? What does SHE think is unbelieveably cool?
Your product comes next – the quality has to be the absolute finest you can afford to make, simply because you cannot compete with the cheap brands and their volume (there are way too many lash puns happening here – I’m sorry!), so you have to compete with the premium brands. This means that your lashes and your packaging have to be on point.
Start A Profitable Lash Business In 7 Steps
1. Identify your dream customer. Be SPECIFIC. Ask yourself “what lashes is she buying NOW” and think about how you can create something that will be even more attractive to her.
You don’t have to appeal to everybody – in fact, if you do, you will probably put most people off! People want to see THEMSELVES reflected in a brand, or the person they WISH they were, whether that’s achingly cool, glamorous, professional and understated, sexy or fun and edgy.
2. Do your product research. Buy some of the lashes you think appeal to your dream customer right now and study them – look at their brand identity, website, photography, logo, the quality of the lashes and their packaging.
When you look at these products with your new “professional” eyes, you will start to notice things you didn’t before. Little touches like is the glue branded to match or is it a Chinese generic? Do you get a cute series of emails from the brand after you order from them? Is it nicely wrapped when it arrives or just boring?
3. Research potential suppliers. Search for “private brand lashes” or “white label lashes” and draw up a list of at least 20 businesses to contact. Some will be in China or elsewhere overseas, some will be more local – if they’re in the US or Europe, find out whether they actually manufacture in China, so that you can make an informed decision.
Alternatively, check out Alibaba.com and see what you find there. You’ll get great prices, but the minimum orders might be higher – get lots of samples and compare them carefully.
4. Gather prices. Email each potential supplier and ask them them for their price list and services.
Find out about packaging, printing, variations (i.e. colour, thickness), shipping (to you) and think about how you will ship each order. Get lots of prices and understand the difference between each price. Get samples and understand how they differ.
5. Design your brand. Think about your logo, colour palette, and even now – before you have a product – consider launching your Instagram account with on-brand visuals across a range of topics, and start courting your dream customer with a range of the themes she loves. Get your email marketing set up early.
If you hire a graphic designer (and you should!) ask her to create your packaging design too, as well as any other assets you need (shipping boxes, glue tube label etc.). Get some tips on designing a brand from my friend Amy here.
6. Order samples of your lashes and packaging and have a photo shoot. Your photography will set you apart from your competition, especially the other newbie brands – consider your models, and the vibe that will be most attractive to your dream customer.
Consider diversity and non-traditional faces. Get at least one great photo of yourself too – you’re going to need it. No photography budget? Try this.
7. Launch! When you launch, lean heavily on a PR strategy that involves putting YOURSELF out there – blog, guest on podcasts, and get your face and your voice onto as many different media platforms as possible. Craft a great story around your brand and get it out there! Reach out to influencers on Instagram and Tiktok and build relationships with up-and-coming stars.
Think also about using affiliates to compensate bloggers for writing about you and driving traffic to your site, and above all, be CONSISTENT in your strategy. Don’t try one thing, get disheartened and move on to the next thing. You’ve got this!