Anna Phillips, founder and CEO of The Lash Lounge, is a licensed Esthetician, Massage Therapist, and Permanent Make-Up Artist, and was one of the first certified eyelash extension trainers in the United States in 2005. Anna has worked in a variety of day spas, salons, and med-spas for over 10 years before deciding to create a completely new salon concept specializing in semi-permanent eyelash extensions.
Much like the evolution of nail salons, eyelash salons are becoming increasingly popular and The Lash Lounge is pioneering the way. As the first of its kind, this salon franchise dedicated to eyelash extensions has grown a once untapped niche into a flourishing business by providing entrepreneurs with a franchise opportunity that offers consumers a glamorous, low-maintenance beauty routine.
Franchise Chatter (FC): Why did you decide to open a niche salon specializing in eyelash extensions back in 2005?
Anna Phillips (AP): The Lash Lounge, which started out as a single-room operation in 2005, emerged from the overwhelming popularity and demand for eyelash extensions. With the growing demand, I felt the need to either expand the eyelash portion of my business or stop taking new clients. Finding no other specialty salons with this concept, I personally managed the product research and development and then created every process, training manual, and protocol.
FC: What are some of the key milestones in your company’s history to date?
AP: After developing the concept in 2005, the first Lash Lounge opened in 2006 and became an immediate success. One year later, a second location opened in a high-end urban shopping and living center, followed by a third location in an up-and-coming urban living and shopping district.
Even through the declining economy, we’ve not only managed to open our newest salon, we’ve see it flourish while businesses around us are closing their doors.
We began franchising in 2010 with our first signed agreement, and have since expanded with three locations opened in 2011 and another location planned to open by the end of June 2012.
FC: Please tell us about the services and products that you offer.
AP: The Lash Lounge provides quality services in an upscale, relaxing environment that allows our customers to achieve a beautiful low-maintenance beauty routine. We specialize in semi-permanent eyelash extensions, lash and brow tinting, lash perming, and permanent make-up.
In addition to beauty enhancing services, our lash-loving clients can shop at our trendy retail boutique featuring the sale of clothing, jewelry, gift items and accessories, and enjoy an exclusive cosmetics line featuring mineral and vitamin enriched products.
FC: Can you give us an idea of the demand for these products and services? What is the revenue potential for a salon specializing in eyelash extensions?
AP: Semi-permanent eyelash extensions were introduced to the U.S. in late 2004. In 2010, ABC Nightline did a story reporting that eyelash related enhancements were bringing in over $1 billion a year in a $40-billion-a-year beauty industry. Of that, the eyelash extensions segment grossed $45 million a year and growing.
The Lash Lounge’s concept was built on specializing in semi-permanent eyelash extensions, with a handful of additional complementary services so that customers can enjoy the convenience of achieving gorgeous eyes that look totally natural, all at one stop.
The beauty industry and specialty salons have proven to be recession proof by showing continuous growth while other industries have downsized or slowed in development. This new niche service is undeniably demanded by consumers with revenue potential ranging from $532,000 to $734,100 per location.
FC: Why should someone interested in running her own niche salon go with The Lash Lounge versus starting her own independent operation?
AP: Being a part of The Lash Lounge franchise system allows owners to not only be included in a revolutionary opportunity that’s the first of its kind, but truly have all the guesswork taken out of opening their business and have a support system to fall back on whenever guidance is needed. It really feels like a family as opposed to starting an independent operation.
Lash Lounge franchisees are offered an array of revenue streams, like the exclusive cosmetic make-up line, as well as the trendy boutique set up in each salon. The Lash Lounge provides would-be business owners with the opportunity to own a business that is not only profitable, but personally fulfilling as well.
FC: Please walk us through the key elements of your training program for franchisees and technicians.
AP: I’ve developed a comprehensive training model to ensure a visit to any Lash Lounge exceeds industry standards and customer expectations. The tried and true methods have been seamlessly replicated in each salon to make effortless glamour more convenient. The Lash Lounge franchise provides a seamless business operation and on-going support, which include:
- Site selection utilizing state of the art demographic and market segmentation analysis
- Complete store design and build-out information
- A comprehensive five-day training program at the corporate headquarters
- 40 hours of on-site training at the franchise location prior to opening
- A comprehensive operations manual
- A thorough training manual with on-going training programs and quality control
- Advertising campaigns and social media training and support
- Computer software that links up globally
- Continuous research and development to keep The Lash Lounge constantly ahead with the latest services, products, and knowledge
FC: Can you name the top 3 factors that have contributed the most to the success of The Lash Lounge?
AP: The Lash Lounge has found success for the following top 3 reasons:
#1: The eyelash extension service is a repeat business. On average, clients come back every two weeks, sometimes weekly, to get refills on their eyelash extensions. This quickly results in a large, loyal client base who visit the salon twice a month on average.
#2: The Lash Lounge dedicates itself to providing over-the-top quality and customer service to every customer who walks through the door. Clients who wear eyelash extensions can tell the difference between a set applied by a technician at The Lash Lounge versus elsewhere.
#3: “Express Beauty Services” are booming in all areas of the industry, especially those services that provide lower-maintenance beauty for the increasing population of busy women who want to look their best but have very little time each day to maintain it. Our salons provide a quick, in-and-out appointment option that eliminates the daily maintenance of mascara and eye makeup to enhance the eyes.
FC: What is the ideal location and geographic territory for a unit of The Lash Lounge?
AP: Being that this concept attracts higher-income individuals as well as a celebrity clientele, The Lash Lounge is eyeing larger cities for expansion, like Chicago, Houston, Los Angeles, Miami, and New York. In conjunction, The Lash Lounge seeks to open salons in high-end urban shopping centers.
FC: What is the estimated initial investment for The Lash Lounge? What are your royalty fees and marketing fees?
AP: The Lash Lounge franchise fee is $30,000 and the monthly royalty fee is 6 percent of gross revenue. The Lash Lounge also requires a monthly national marketing fee of up to 2 percent of gross revenue. The average total cost to open a franchise is between $220,000 and $383,000. This cost includes everything a franchisee will need to open a complete turn-key operation.
The annual revenue potential can range from $532,000 to $734,100.
FC: What other areas of the beauty business do you see yourself branching out to in the future?
AP: We may be adding brow threading services to our menu by the end of 2012 to further satisfy customer demands. The Lash Lounge also envisions partnering with a high-end boutique hotel chain, like the W Hotel, with The Express Lash Lounge situated in it.
FC: Can you name a few franchises (inside or outside your category) that you admire, and why?
AP: Nothing Bundt Cake, Zoup!, and Painting With A Twist are just a few of the franchise systems I admire. These franchisors have built a very thorough and smooth process to on-board new franchisees and help them become successful quickly. All of these franchise systems continue to grow quickly during a downward economy and I believe that is due to having developed a strong and proven business model.
FC: What are your growth plans for The Lash Lounge in 2012, and beyond? How do you plan to reach these targets?
AP: With six salons already open throughout Texas and one soon to come, our plans call for 10 salons to be open by the end of 2012 and 25 salons open within the next three years, eyeing Chicago, Houston, Los Angeles, Miami, and New York for expansion. By 2018, the goal is for more than 50 Lash Lounge salons operating nationwide.
We plan to reach these targets through national advertising and word-of-mouth referrals. Seventy-five percent of current franchisees resulted from visiting corporate salons. With a new franchise niche, half the battle is educating the audience as to what The Lash Lounge actually does and once they learn that, it does not take long before they are looking to open a Lash Lounge of their own.