How to Start a Lash Business: Tips From London Lash Pro’s Founder
London Lash holds education at the very forefront of its ethos, seeking to develop the careers of lash technicians right from the moment they pick up their very first pair of lash tweezers, until they become award winning trainers in their own right, and often far beyond this! Selling everything from professional lash adhesive to high quality eyelash extensions, London Lash has grown from strength to strength. With over a decade of experience in the industry, we take a look at how this successful business began and our founder’s top tips…
How did London Lash begin?
London Lash founder Hanna Putjato grew up in Minsk, Belarus, the daughter of scientists, and began a career in banking. Always wanting a challenge, Hanna moved to Bolton, Greater Manchester UK, where she took up a job in a pie factory. Hanna didn’t know any English at the time, and admits she felt lonely and miserable as a result. In order to broaden her English speaking skills, Hanna enrolled at a local college to complete a beauty course. This worked, and also saw her fall in love with eyelash extensions!
After working part time in a salon and building up a client base in the North of England, Hanna moved her work from Manchester down to London where she started from scratch, lashing from early morning until late at night to build a new client base. Owing to her bubbly personality and tenacious nature, it didn’t take long before she had enough clients for herself and for a new member of staff.
During this time, Hanna had begun offering a treatment which was brand new on the UK market - Russian Volume lashes - and she soon had an influx of lash technicians asking her for courses on the technique, as no-one else in the UK was offering Volume lashes at the time!
After borrowing a small amount of money and purchasing her first batch of eyelash extension supplies, Hanna began teaching using her own manuals and kits. Her students would ask if they could re-purchase Hanna’s products so she began selling them on eBay. Soon, shemigrated her shop from eBay over to a proper website where she could sell courses and products all in one place.
Hanna took on another member of staff to help with the marketing and the merchandising, and London Lash (then known as Lady Lash) flourished! Her salon grew, as did her office staff and she rebranded to London Lash in 2014, which has continued to grow into the world-renowned business it is today.
Hanna’s top tips for starting a successful lash business:
To give you an insight into Hanna’s business savvy mind, we’ve put together Hanna’s top 5 tips for growing a business!
1. Don’t Only Dream Big
It sounds controversial, doesn’t it? Everyone else always says ‘Dream big!’ And to a certain extent, I can agree, but I also disagree. But only because sometimes our dreams can be TOO big and they can scare us, paralyse and become so ambitious that we have no idea where to start.
Just consider this:
You are working as a beauty therapist in a salon and one day, you dream to open your own beautiful lash salon in a busy city centre location. Your client base is growing, business is booming, celebrities are visiting your salon and you now have 20 lash technicians working for you. You only have to do eyelashes occasionally, and only when and for who you want to.
Sounds good, doesn’t it? But there are so many things to consider before this happens. Where do I start? Do I start looking for investors? Can I go to the bank to borrow money? Where do I look for lash technicians? How will I teach them? Where do I even get customers?!
There are so many questions and fears in your head that you don’t know where to start, so it’s more likely that you won’t do anything at all. You’ll just keep dreaming: ‘I’ll do it one day.’
So my advice is, forget about your BIG dream for now and really concentrate on your short term goals. Instead, focus on smaller steps:
- If you are working for somebody else, think: how do I rent a beauty room and start working for myself?
- If you already work for yourself, think: how can I get fully booked? Which marketing channels should I use to advertise myself?
- Once you are getting fully booked, think: how can I raise my prices and improve my profitability?
And slowly but surely, you’ll begin to realise how these little steps will naturally grow to the point where you’ll finally open that dream salon of yours. Sometimes we really don’t need to think big to go far. My advice – take it one step at the time.
2. Change Your Relationship to Your Mistakes
Starting out your own business is a daunting task and more often than not, nobody has taught you how to do things. Everything you do, you do for the first time. So, naturally, you’ll make lots of mistakes. There’ll be issues from recruiting the wrong people to overpaying for salon rent, you’ll be counting taxes incorrectly - but an entrepreneur’s life really is the chain of mistakes and failures that have led to their success.
Normally a person’s response to a mistake is to get upset and sometimes even give up on the project thinking that it’s pointless, but this shouldn’t be the case.
My advice to you: Always be positive and accept the fact that you’ll always be making mistakes on your business journey. You can’t stop yourself from making mistakes but what you can do is change the way you think about them. Change your relationships with mistakes. Think about them, analyse them, and they will give you lots of new knowledge!
3. ‘You Can’t Run A Successful Bakery and Be A Baker at the Same Time.’
This simple sentence triggered so many thoughts in my head and really changed the way I do business completely. Think about it: you can’t imagine an owner of a multi-million pound pancake factory who spends 5 days a week baking these pancakes. They just wouldn’t do it. They need to run the business!
So, 3 years ago I stopped doing lashes, I stopped teaching, I stopped replying to messages on Facebook and Instagram, I stopped doing everything. That’s not my job. That’s the job of my employees. My role in the company – to move it forward, to develop it. My job is to think about the business’ growth and you can’t do that when you’re replying to messages late into the night!
I’d like to give the same advice to you. It might be financially difficult at first but trust me – as soon as you start employing staff and stepping away from the actual salon work, the faster your business will grow. By delegating day to day tasks, you’ll gain an enormous amount of time to spend on your business growth and development.
4. Never Stop Learning
Over the past few years, I’ve read thousands of articles, hundreds of books and watched an enormous amount of YouTube videos. All business-related.
First, I learnt about the lash application, then I learned about salon customer service, then I learned about social media marketing and so on. Every single day of my life I learn something new and this is something which I feel is extremely important for my business. I always aim to learn something I can implement straight away.
When I was living on my own in London, I even gave my TV away as I always thought that watching TV was a useless thing and a total waste of my life. Education was the only thing I wanted to spend my free time on.
I won’t recommend you throw your TV away, but I’ll advise you to start scheduling learning time into your calendar. Spend just 20-30 minutes a day learning something new. Concentrate on practical knowledge that you can implement straight away. As soon as you do, you’ll see a massive improvement in your business.
5. Be Unique
I’ve noticed that a lot of business owners are mentioning competitors when I ask them about their business. They watch their competitors, they think about their competitors, they try to be better than their competitors, but I have always found it a bit strange. Yes, it’s good to have an idea of what your competitors are doing but thinking about them and competing with them – it’s a total waste of time.
When you are running the business – it’s all about the quality of your product and services, it’s all about the satisfaction of your customers and employees. All you need to do is concentrate on your business and think of how to do it better. Forget about competitors. It really doesn’t matter what they are doing. What’s really important is what you are doing.
One of the reasons why London Lash is so successful is because we really try to be unique. We don’t copy anyone – we come up with fresh new ideas. For example, I was the first one who came up with the idea of paper boxes for lash trays. I really wanted to reduce the amount of non-recyclable plastic boxes and it was a massive success – we gained lots of new loyal customers! Because we were unique, we came up with better ideas. Now every second lash brand is coming up with the same paper packaging as us. We are being copied now. But it’s fine. We were the first and we’ve gained a lot from this.
So, my advice to you: don’t let competitors steal your time and energy! It’s better to spend your time and energy on your products, on your services, and on your clients. And I guarantee that your business will always be incredibly successful.