with Sherif Badr and the creators of Velour Lashes
Hey Angela and Mabel, how did two girls from Markham get caught up in making lashes?
Right then and there, we had to choose – this crazy dream of ours to bring this beauty product to life or to stick with our full time jobs.
It all started from our love and addiction for lashes! At the time, there wasn’t a single lash that we truly loved and felt comfortable having on – they were often stiff, plastic-like and unnatural looking. So we recognized that this was likely the same problem that a lot of women out there was experiencing. The idea came to us more of a necessity to be honest and eventually we brought that idea to life. What started out as a weekend project progressively grew to become a daily commitment that we both were just ecstatic and super passionate about. We spent endless hours at coffee shops, reflecting and constantly revising the concept and styles of the lash line you see today. While juggling a full time job and this new "hobby" of ours (which was also a full time job) it was clear that we were faced with very demanding schedules. Right then and there, we had to choose – this crazy dream of ours to bring this beauty product to life or to stick with our full time jobs. “All or nothing!” was really our motto at the time. With that, Velour Lashes was born and that little purple box you see today came to life! Looking back now, we’re so glad that we chose to pursue it!
Please tell us how the interaction with Beyonce went down - spare no details!
We can remember this day like it happened just yesterday! Shortly after arriving in Tokyo for a trade show, we received an email from Beyonce’s assistant asking us whether we’d expedite some lashes to her immediately for a concert that she was performing in Atlantic City. We literally thought that this cannot be real. I mean, this is Queen B we’re talking about. So without giving it too much thought, we went about our day. However, we began to receive an abundance of emails from Beyonce’s team and at that moment, we looked at each other and literally just
screamed like two teenage girls at a Justin Bieber concert!
A few weeks later, customers were emailing and tweeting us saying we were mentioned in People Magazine as the lash brand that Beyonce brought "by the ton", we couldn't believe we had a full story being featured on us, and then to be endorsed by Beyonce was just unreal! To this day, we still get SO excited when we see our lashes on our favourite stars.
Have you met any amazing people on this journey you want to shout out to?
Wherever the journey takes us, nothing has resonated with us more than the people behind it all. By people, we don’t just mean the immediate Velour Lashes team. We’re talking about the family and friends who put in their own blood, sweat and tears to help us achieve this dream. Then there’s the amazing group of Ambassadors who stuck through all our milestones even when we couldn’t offer anything more than our greatest appreciation. But last but not least, the biggest shout out goes to our extremely loyal customers. As cliché as it may sound, they are the reason for Velour Lashes and what keeps us inspired to bring new products or new ideas, we just really want to make them proud! Our customers take time from their day to send e-mails and leave comments about how confident, beautiful and happy they feel in their lashes. This is the kind of positivity that we’ve been fortunate enough to wake up to everyday. We are just so overwhelmed by the amount of faith that everyone has had in us so from the bottom of our hearts, thank you guys so much for being part of it all.
So why do you think velour lashes are so successful compared to other brands? Or is there a lot more to do?
We’re not even close to being done yet, I feel like we just scratched the surface! There’s so much room for growth and opportunities especially when you’re in an industry of such creative and passionate individuals. Eventually, we want to be recognized as THE LASH BRAND, not just for our mink lashes but for high quality lashes in general! To do so, we continuously strive to be innovative whether it’s coming up with a new product or putting a unique spin on an existing one. For example, when we created our very own ‘Lash Stick’ – we put a twist on the conventional eyelash glue which we recognized to have a few problems such as messy application, long wait times to get tacky, and a weak hold! A large part of our creativity stems from filling a void in the market or solving a problem. More importantly, we do anything and everything to connect with our customers whether it’s online or in-person at our trade-shows. Our customers have been so supportive and the least we can do is offer an all encompassing customer service by listening to their suggestions and addressing their questions.
Here's a girl in high-school reading this and debating getting a job or starting a line of beauty products - what's your advice?
First and foremost, we would ask- " how passionate are you about your product"? If you truly believe in the product and, more importantly, yourself, then buckle down and get ready to work harder than you’ve ever imagined. It is scary but no road worth traveling came without a few obstacles. Along with hard work and dedication (and I mean A LOT of it), make sure you surround yourself with a positive and strong support system. Your friends and family will be your rock that will keep you on track when you want to give up. Secondly, be active on all relevant platforms and use your contacts. Social media is probably the best marketing tool you can use for your company! Make sure you also expand your network and utilize your resources. You never know who you come across - having a mentor to teach you what they’ve already experienced can really get you started! At the end of the day, trust your instincts and don’t be afraid of failing.
I need 5 tips to starting a successful online store - go!
1) Understand and get savvy with Social media!
2) Truly understand your customers and listen to their needs and wants
3) Stay organized and be on top of your day to day operations
4) Stay on top of the trends and keep your customers guessing and wanting more
5) Make sure your online website is user friendly and visually appealing. Sometimes, simplicity goes a long way!
Is there something you wish you took classes in that might have helped?
Being an entrepreneur, in some ways is like being a parent. You really don't know how it is until you live and breath it. We definitely think it would have been beneficial for us to have taken a few leadership courses. Neither one of us has experience "managing" other people. As our team continues to grow, we’re learning the true difference between just ‘managing’ and being a leader!
Have you gotten a lot of love from the blogging community?
OH YES! Beauty and Makeup bloggers are part of such a vast yet intertwined community. Once the good word gets out about a product, it spreads like wildfire and you’d be amazed by how much voice a single person has. We owe a lot to the blogging community, especially the YouTube and Instagram gurus that have taken a chance in our product! They are constantly featuring us in their videos, tutorials, and makeup looks and are always giving honest reviews about our company. It’s great seeing how supportive and passionate everyone in the beauty community is.
How important is networking in your business?
Extremely important! It's ALL about word of mouth, especially in the beauty industry. When we reach out to an influencer or a makeup artist, we make sure there's a connection and a trusting relationship. With that, we build a relationship with respect and support. Majority of our customers that come and see us at the trade-shows tell us that they have either heard of us through their friends or a review on Youtube or Instagram. This is a result of networking and simply getting your brand into the right hands. If one celebrity make-up artist uses it, more then likely, they will share your product with their friends in the industry. We’d encourage expanding your contacts and building a solid network because people ARE the business!
Can you let us in on the strategy of promoting the lashes? Is it mostly digital? Mostly events? Networking?
It's not one single thing but a combination of several things including - social media, networking and events such as our trade-shows! But without the power of Social Media, we truly believe the company wouldn’t be where it is today. We were able to connect to essentially anybody, anywhere in the world through Youtube, Facebook, and Instagram. We can’t stress enough how important it is for beauty companies to seize the opportunity that today’s technology gives us - it truly is amazing and free! For example, through Youtube and Instagram- it allowed us to target different make-up gurus from all over the world; helping us break into several international markets. Social Media gave us the platforms to fully engage the true potential of Velour Lashes, better than any marketing tool in the world!
Was there a point when you thought this will never work?
It can be discouraging at times when you don’t land that deal you’ve been hoping for..
Yes, of course! I'm sure every entrepreneur out there can tell you that they’ve encountered moments of doubts and defeat. Yes, we had many moments where we thought ‘is this going to work?’ or ‘where do we go from here?' It can be discouraging at times when you don’t land that deal you’ve been hoping for or a project falls through even though you invested all your time into it. But every single time we felt that slight ‘it’ll never work’, there was always a burning ‘yes it will’ following it. From day one, we believed in our product and business. That passion, along with hard work and determination is what got us to where we are today.
What is the biggest challenge you face today with VL?
As our company moves towards our fourth year of business and enter into a new chapter of our journey, the biggest challenge is really keeping the upward momentum that follows after our exciting launch in Sephora. Of course, we are beyond happy and grateful to be part of such a huge company but with such an explosive change, we’re really just working our tails off to go above and beyond.
If you could design another product to go with your lashes what would it be?
At VL, we’re not only coming out with new lash designs but also tools that really aid the whole process of beautifying yourself with a luscious pair! Aside from our ‘Lash Stick,' which dispenses eyelash glue out of a pen rather than a tube, we’ve actually just launched a second tool that helps with the whole application process that even the false lash newbies can do with their eyes closed! We call it the ‘Two-Easy’ Lash Applicator. This tool was designed with one end that’s tweezer-like and allows you to have a strong grip on the lashes so you can accurately apply your lashes. The other end is a mini comb that will gently blend your falsies with your lashes to give it a more natural appearance. We’re always cooking up new things so please stay tuned!
Do you need a degree to work at velour lashes?
We’re actually in the process of hiring right now so it’s really the perfect time to ask! Having a degree is not going to make or break you. Don’t get us wrong, we value education and feel privileged to have the opportunity to go through school and earn a degree. First off, we understand that not everyone is able to have the same opportunities. When it’s all said and done, we truly believe that passion and the willingness to work hard, more than anything, goes a long way if given the chance and the right environment to flourish. We believe that a good candidate is someone that is eager to learn in any given job they do. That quality is not bounded to just individuals holding a degree!
I've seen some teasers about something big on the horizon at VL, can you give us a little about that?
Well the cat’s out of the bag now :D If you haven't heard already, we officially launched a new line of 'Silk lashes' designed exclusively for Sephora Canada & USA. It's still so SURREAL! When we started this company, Sephora was our dream and we can't believe it's finally a reality. We couldn't be more excited and nervous at the same time. The new line consists of 15 unique styles made from 100% silk. Our silk lashes are made with the very same cotton thread band (used in our mink) that offers both a comfortable and lightweight wear so we know you guys will love it as much as our original line!
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