From doing lashes in her loft Ashleigh Stevenson, aged 27, never imagined she would have her own salon, let alone be selling her lashes via vending machines in shopping centres around the UK.
Ashleigh, a beauty entrepreneur from Newcastle, opened up her salon in Great Park Gosforth two years ago. From there she has built a beauty empire with her salon diary being booked back to back for the most part of the year for lash and eyebrow appointments.
Ashleigh first began her venture into the beauty industry with a course at Gateshead College. However, when deciding to focus on becoming an eye lash technician her mum and fiancé bought her a course each: “I received training courses as presents and went down to Manchester to study with a company called Lash Perfect” she said.
“To begin with, it all started because my little boy was starting school. I wanted to be the one to take him there and pick him up. You know it was supposed to be just a hobby, a family thing, something to make a bit of extra money.”
“But then it just blew up. I was expecting to do five or ten a week, if that, but then it just got big.”
When asked if Ashleigh had always had an entrepreneurial side she said: “I guess so, I only realised this a few months ago, like stupid things when I was younger – I used to make phone cases and sell them on eBay. Then just before lashing I made hair pieces for festivals called eye candy, but it was the lashing that took off.”
Having such a large business that just keeps rising Ashleigh is bound to face difficulties: “It is trying to find the work, life and family life balance, I just can’t switch off. This industry has just become so diluted, there are new lash technicians that pop up on the daily.”
The eyelash industry has blown up over the last few years, with people wearing lashes for day to day activities; they are no longer just to be worn at parties. With expertise already behind her, Ashleigh found a way of making an even bigger stamp within in the trade by starting up The Lashloft Academy.
“I figured with more eye lash technicians popping up, people were training – so why not offer that here and that way I am able to make more money from their training.”
To be able to teach her skills to the next cohort of lash technicians Ashleigh had to gain her PTLLS qualification which allows her to teach those over the age of 15.
“The training happens on a Sunday, as that is the only day of the week the salon is closed. The course takes place every six weeks, we do get a high level of interest although we can only take on 4 to 6 candidates each time.”
You could try The Lashloft training academy for yourself, it costs £405 with a full kit included and you become an accredited lash technician like the team at The Lashloft.
Having started lashing in 2016 as a hobby, The Lashloft has gone from strength to strength with Ashleigh believing it is “the social media that generation that has helped my business, when I started, I only knew of two to three others specialising in lashes. Instagram has helped the business massively.”
Having an overflowing diary lead to the salon not being able to take on any new customers and Ashleigh began to think of new ways to get her lashes out to the world. The vending machine idea struck Ashleigh this time last year whilst discussing with her fiancé her options going forward, “I just said to Matty I wish I had like a vending machine that could sell my lashes and then Matty was like why not? I thought it was just an idea, a crazy one, but then it happened it become real.”
Ashleigh currently has two vending machines in the North East, one in Manchester and one to be opening within the next week in Milton Keynes.
“The business has grown without me knowing, I take each day as it comes. I have only started to think about my plans for the future recently, I want to be all across the UK and also overseas. I want my vending machines to hit America and to have another salon for our training academy, with all my girls being able to teach.”
When asked what is next for Ashleigh and The Lashloft she stated: “I already have my own professional range – I don’t push it to sell although there are a few clients who do buy it. The next step for me is announcing my professional range with the glue, the shampoo and the brushes and sell it to accredited lash technicians only.”
From here it is only onwards and upwards for Ashleigh Stevenson and The Lashloft.
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