In this exclusive Q&A, we get to learn about The Lash Loft from its founders, Peter and Shellyann Bainlardi.
Franchise Chatter: Can you share a little bit about The Lash Loft concept and how it originated?
Peter Bainlardi (PB): We founded The Lash Loft in the famed Flatiron District of New York City in 2013. Eyelash extensions were a new service in the beauty world and were beginning to gain in popularity at the time. There were a select few very skilled freelancers around. However, dedicated lash salons were a new concept, and several started to pop up around New York City.
The service was relatively new in New York State, and the regulatory bodies were behind, which, unfortunately for clients, meant that the lash extension service was not yet regulated properly. As a result, there were many lash technicians providing services that were not legally licensed to do so, potentially putting clients at risk.
Shellyann had visited the best lash salons at the time and was not happy at all with what she saw. On top of the fact that she felt they might be potentially unsafe, she noticed that there was an apparent lack of style and a low-level atmosphere at these salons. They were providing a new and cutting edge service at the time that Shelly believed had a tremendous upside for growth. However, she felt that the expense of the service and the atmosphere offered at these salons were inconsistent. She recognized an opportunity.
Her vision was to create a dedicated lash salon with a stylish and elegant high-end spa-like atmosphere yet remain price competitive with the current providers. Further, she would guarantee that every technician was legally licensed to perform the service, thus ensuring client safety. In short, she would raise the bar on the lash salon business, offer clients more for their money, and set a new standard for dedicated lash salons in NYC and beyond.
The Lash Loft was born in 2013, and the journey began. After some early growing pains, The Lash Loft has achieved consistent impressive revenue growth in the highly competitive NYC market and has emerged as a leader in the industry. More importantly, The Lash Loft is widely considered by sophisticated NYC women as the absolute best in the business for the quality of work, overall value, and customer service. We are very proud of the success of The Lash Loft brand and are excited to bring its philosophy, business model, and concept to market for franchising and expansion.
FC: How does The Lash Loft stand out from other lash concepts in the $850M+ lash industry?
PB: We focus on the overall experience from the moment you walk in the door and have thought about every aspect of the client’s visit. Of course, the lash services are performed at the highest level in terms of skill and execution. However, we strive for more. Shellyann has a fantastic talent for creating stylish and comfortable living environments and has translated that idea to The Lash Loft.
We provide an ultra-clean, beautifully elegant, and extremely comfortable setting with snacks and wine included to give our clients an enjoyable overall experience. We focused on maximizing value for our clients in the lash industry and spent a lot of time patiently developing our brand and creating a system that we feel can be replicated and scaled. We have attracted amazingly talented technicians, but more than that, we developed a system that works and one that we can train others to execute.
FC: Why do you feel the time is right to launch franchising?
Shellyann Bainlardi (SB): The lash industry has continued to grow and move into the mainstream. However, we feel that it still has a tremendous amount of upside and continued growth potential. Many women are just discovering the service and trying it for the first time. The service continues to become a regular part of the beauty routine, along with nails and hair.
The thing that excites us the most is that we believe that the lash extension service provides the most impressive and immediate “before and after” results of any beauty service. The happy look on our clients’ faces when they open their eyes for the first time and see the stark improvement in their appearance with fabulous new lashes is exciting to witness.
Further, the number of talented lash extension technicians across the country continues to develop and grow, which we feel strongly will allow us to scale at the high level of service that we consider to be our standard. We are confident in the strength of our brand and our ability to train others to execute the system that we have developed. We have had great success in the highly competitive market of New York City and feel like this concept will do well in other city centers across the country. We are very excited about the path of The Lash Loft and the overall lash industry in general.
FC: How were you able to garner such a massive Instagram following with only one location?
PB: Shellyann has done a fantastic job on Instagram in developing an incredible following. She understood very early the power of social media in general, but especially the power that a visual-based platform like Instagram can have for a beauty business like lash extensions. Instagram is tailor-made for showcasing and promoting the amazing work that our technicians are doing, and we are always posting high-quality examples and content to display that.
The results of the work are stunning and speak for themselves, and we have been approached by many wonderful people and social influencers along the way. She makes a point to be responsive and regularly interacts with our followers, which keeps people engaged.
Shellyann has also done a great job of personalizing our content so that we are not only promoting the business but also who we are as business owners and people, the industry in general, as well as our amazing lash technicians individually. The strategy has been very successful for us.
FC: What makes The Lash Loft an attractive business opportunity for potential franchisees?
SB: The Lash Loft is an extremely attractive business opportunity for several reasons. We have emerged as a leader and are widely recognized as best in class in what is traditionally a challenging and highly competitive market environment like New York City. We feel that sophisticated clients across the country will recognize that New York is a leading city when it comes to the beauty trade, and they will be drawn to a business and brand that has done exceptionally well there.
Further, we are still in the very early stages of growth in the lash salon sector of the beauty market with tremendous growth potential ahead of us. There are very few recognized brands at the moment, and we expect that we will emerge as the premium brand in the space. We are highly confident that we have the edge over the existing competition and will differentiate ourselves as the leading premium brand.
Further, eye-related services like lash extensions and lash lifts continue to evolve and improve, and we actively work to stay cutting edge and deliver the very best of what is available on the market. Our lash services are extremely well received by clients, and the before and after effects are amazingly striking.
These services are becoming very well established as essential to a woman’s regular beauty routine, and there are still many women (and potentially men) that have not experienced them yet. We see very attractive upside potential ahead of us and plan on leading the way.
FC: What qualities do you look for in a potential franchisee? Which territories are you currently seeking for development?
SB: We’re looking for experienced entrepreneurs, particularly multi-unit franchise developers, as well as those that want to invest and build an operations team. A passion for the beauty industry is a big plus, but we’re more focused on bringing in operational skill sets capable of providing an excellent guest experience and scaling to multiple locations.
The top 50 most populous metropolitan areas in the U.S. are the primary targets for development. We are offering exclusive multi-unit development agreements.
FC: What is the typical investment to open a Lash Loft studio?
PB: The investment ranges between $312,395 and $560,895.