Hana Fae Pareja laid out her eyebrow threading equipment on her Dykstra dorm desk, preparing to test her skills on her first client – a male floormate.
When her customers come over, Pareja, a second-year mathematics for teaching student, turns her classic-residence-hall desk into a threading station. Customers sit on her desk chair, plug their phone into her speakers and await to get their eyebrows plucked, threaded and trimmed. Pareja’s business on the Hill attracts up to four customers a day, each paying $5.
Pareja said she learned how to thread from a friend in October the fall of her first year because she had been hesitant to spend money getting her own eyebrows done at a salon.
After several successful attempts on herself, Pareja began her dorm business when she decided to thread the eyebrows of her floormate Nicolas Gonzalez, a second-year biology student. Pareja wanted to try her hand on someone whose eyebrows had not previously been worked with, she said.
Pareja persuaded several floormates, who happened to be male, to come get their eyebrows threaded and plucked.
Gonzalez said he initially believed that eyebrow grooming is a feminine activity to some extent. However, Pareja convinced several of her male floormates that groomed eyebrows are often seen as an attractive trait, Gonzalez said. Ultimately satisfied with the outcome of her work, Pareja’s predominantly male customer base began to recruit other male friends to seek her services, Gonzalez said.
Although Gonzalez was enthusiastic about getting his eyebrows done, some of Pareja’s other friends were more hesitant, Gonzalez said.
“There is the masculinity aspect of it because you do not want to be viewed as lower because you are a guy getting your eyebrows done,” Gonzalez said. “But honestly it looks better in the end.”
Pareja said the threading and plucking improved the shape of his eyebrows, an end result that Gonzalez said even his sister approved of.
Pareja began taking before and after shots and compiled them into a Facebook collage to publicize her new business. Pareja’s Facebook advertisements attracted a wider range of clients, including female students, Pareja said.
Since Pareja’s original male customers convinced other male friends that eyebrows make a striking improvement on looks, the majority of Pareja’s customer base still consists of men, said Alex Hong, a second-year business economics student. The reason Pareja’s customers have continued getting their eyebrows done regularly is because their eyebrows caused a significant shift in their confidence, Gonzalez said.
Since many of Pareja’s floormates became her clients, her male customers did not feel alone when they engaged in the stereotypically feminine activity, Gonzalez said.
“A lot of the guys on our floor got their eyebrows done, so the standard had kind of crashed,” Gonzalez said. “The hesitation to not get my eyebrows done because I am a guy went away.”
Pareja retained many of her original customers due to the personal touch she offers during her appointments by taking song suggestions from customers, playing her own favorite new tracks and welcoming open conversation, Hong said.
Because Pareja’s business is located in her dorm room, customers can feel relaxed in a familiar environment, Gonzalez said. Threading can be painful, but it’s beneficial to have a comfortable environment where one can take breaks or even use a tissue to wipe off tears.
“One of my guy friends is a macho man who is not the type to cry, but right when I started, there were tears running down his face,” Pareja said.
Since men are usually seen as more stoic, going through the sometimes-painful process of eyebrow grooming without crying in public can cause discomfort, Pareja said. But in the safety of a dorm room and with a person they can trust, many of Pareja’s male friends do not have to deal as much with the pressure of hypermasculinity, Pareja said.
“She hands me tissues and gives me breaks when I need them,” Gonzalez said. “Overall, I just trust her and I am comfortable with her because she is my friend.”