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Student runs eyelash extension business from her own apartment

TiaErykah “Tia” Gregory, a second-year psychobiology student, promotes her business of doing eyelash extensions to clients via the UCLA Free & For Sale Facebook page. Amongst three different volume options for the lashes, Gregory said she also offers to fill in where the previous lashes have fallen out. For convenience, Gregory does each of her appointments at her apartment. (Mia Kayser/Daily Bruin staff)

By Julie Lee

Oct. 14, 2019 10:30 p.m.

TiaErykah “Tia” Gregory struggled to find an eyelash technician after coming to college, so she decided to become one herself.

The second-year psychobiology student spent a week this summer participating in a training workshop to receive her license for eyelash extensions. Gregory’s old lash technician, who is based in Antioch, California, helped coach her. Gregory said she felt inspired to learn from her, as she knew firsthand how well her technician’s work looked and lasted on herself.

“I personally started getting lashes because I struggled applying falsies, but I continued to get them because I really liked the convenience of having them,” Gregory said. “They became a huge timesaver, especially when I was running late in the mornings.”

[Related: Students’ business takes hassle out of haircuts with accessible prices]

After receiving her license, Gregory promoted her work on UCLA’s Free & For Sale page on Facebook, as well as her Instagram page, @blinklash.la. She offers classic sets at $60, hybrid sets at $65 and volume sets at $70, as well as fills, in which fallout and gaps in a previous lash set are filled. Her appointments take place in her apartment right outside campus, which is convenient for UCLA students, said Gregory.

Gregory has her clients lay down on a massage table in her living room. She sets up a big overhead light that sits over the client’s face, which allows her to look at their individual eyelashes. Valerie Chen, fourth-year statistics and psychology student, has gone to Gregory twice to get her lashes done. She found her work while browsing UCLA’s Free & For Sale page.

“Being college students, we don’t have that much money anyway, … so the fact that she’s willing to provide the service at such an affordable price is great for us,” Chen said. “The fact that she holds appointments at her apartment is super convenient too because I also live on the apartment side.”

[Related: Students express artistry with original makeup looks on social media platforms]

Because of the variety of college clients Gregory has, she said she needed to learn to utilize various types of lashes in order to achieve different looks. The classic lash set is the most basic of the three, Gregory said. It entails attaching one singular false eyelash onto each strand of the client’s natural eyelashes. This creates a natural, wispy look without the lashes appearing too heavy. Gregory said this style is ideal for those who are just starting out wearing eyelash extensions because they are easier to maintain and still comfortable on the eyes.

The hybrid lash set is similar to the classic set, except that it incorporates “fans” in between the singular strands of eyelashes. Gregory said fans consist of three to five eyelashes per one strand, giving the hybrid set a fuller doll or cat-eye look.

Finally, there is the most dramatic set – the volume. This style only consists of fans, so each individual eyelash has multiple false eyelashes attached to them. It is most suitable for those that want to achieve a glamorous look, or if the client tends to wear more makeup on a day-to-day basis, Gregory said.

When Gregory initially launched her business, she started off with cheaper promotional prices. Most lash technicians do this in order to attract their first clients, she said. Once she had a handful of people coming to her regularly, she raised her price to what they currently are, which she said is half the price of what is normally charged around the beauty industry in Los Angeles. Gregory buys her lashes online and was encouraged to buy them from her own lash technician. On her own clients, she uses other equipment including lash primer, glue, faux mink lash extensions, a mister for the face and a fan.

“The trays of lashes that I buy are not nearly as expensive as the prices that I’m charging. … If I’m not paying so much for them, then I’m not going to make the service that much more expensive either,” Gregory said. “I want to make a profit but don’t want to rip people off for a service that is overly charged everywhere else.”

Although her prices are low, she said the quality of her work still remains. Client and second-year pre-global studies student Lauren Han said her friends and family often compliment her lashes and are impressed with the quality. With extensions, she said there is no need to spend extra time in the morning getting ready, putting mascara on or curling your eyelashes.

“For me personally, I just hate using mascara a lot. … I feel like it makes my eyelashes fall out,” Han said. “I tried lash extensions also because I was in the process of going through recruitment for a sorority, and I wanted to look put together.”

On the other hand, Chen said looks were only a bonus for her. Chen struggles with eye sensitivity and used to wear sunglasses in order to help her cope with preventing debris and wind irritating her eyes. However, getting eyelash extensions has stopped the debris from irritating her eyes and allowed her to stop wearing glasses at all times.

Because of the popularity of lash extensions among women, as well as the affordability and convenience of her services, Gregory has been setting six to eight appointments each week. With each appointment lasting up to two hours, her day-to-day schedule has become increasingly busy, as well as her weekends, when she usually has clients back to back. She said she keeps her clients’ time in mind, as she feels obligated to consider their busy schedules as she works.

Gregory said the business is also great as a personal side hustle. She is able to work around her academic schedule, and it allows her to pay bills and have extra spending money. However, she said being a lash technician does not guarantee consistent success.

“I wouldn’t mind doing this until I graduated or until after I graduated,” Gregory said. “It’s a really good job, but it also isn’t the most reliable job in the sense that you have to have clients in order for it to work.”

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