By Hunting Beauty- Hunting for the best beauty, skincare and makeup products.
I was lucky enough to be asked to be an ambassador for Just Lashes in Wollongong and got the opportunity to interview the lovely Aleena about her business, franchise and salons. Here is how it all went down.
Why did you decide to open a niche salon specialising in eyelash extensions, how did you start Just Lashes in 2010?
After a decade long career in the Government, I was ready to move on to something creative… so I decided to start my own entrepreneurial journey. I have always loved everything about beauty and I was looking for something that was unique and niche.
Lash extensions were incredibly new to the market in Australia, but I knew in an instant that this was going to be big. I stumbled across a new Melbourne based business that was offering franchise opportunities – ‘Just Lashes’ and purchased the franchise which opened in Newcastle in 2010.
The concept took off! I was so passionate about lashes and the brand that I decided to acquire the whole company. So effectively I was a franchisee turned franchisor. This gives me a very unique perspective on franchising as I have experienced both roles.
You’re an internationally award-winning lash guru & you’ve achieved a lot as a successful entrepreneur. What are some of the key milestones in your company’s history to date?
Yes, that’s right! In 2015 I attended a Lash Tournament in Las Vegas with one of my employees Bianca (who is now a franchisee). We competed against people from all around the world and I took out first place, while Bianca took out 4th place.
What many people don’t know is that my husband Stuart was my model for the competition! He was such a good sport. The person that I organised on arrival to Las Vegas didn’t end up being a good candidate and I almost didn’t compete at all. On the morning of the competition, Stuart took one for the team and agreed to be my model. He did insist that I remove them straight afterwards, which I reluctantly agreed to… I mean geesh they are an award-winning set of lashes!
I also took first place in a photo competition that was hosted in the UK. The photos are still used by some respected training companies to demonstrate perfect styling, so I’m proud of that.
Just Lashes have achieved a lot over the past few years, from re-branding to redeveloping the franchise system. We have been nominated for a Best Lash Salon award and won a Best Customer Service award. I’ve been a speaker at several lash industry events in Sydney, Melbourne, Gold Coast, Perth and New Zealand.
Some of our biggest milestones are the opening of our new salons and welcoming our new franchisees into our lash family. We are women and men in business all working together towards one goal to build an empire. I love how passionate our franchisees are, I love seeing them flourish and watching their businesses succeed – that is what gets me out of bed, that is what motivates me.
Singer/Songwriter Chantelle Delaney joined us last year as our Ambassador and that has been such an amazing milestone. Chantelle is not only a beautiful person (inside and out), she is also talented and charismatic, strong and determined, she’s a wife and mother, a career woman, she is a go-getter, a mover and shaker. Chantelle embodies everything we love about women and everything that is the Just Lashes client and franchisee.
Please tell us about the services and products that you offer.
It’s always been important to us that we stay true to our core product – which is lashes. Lash extensions are our speciality, we do it all day every day and we are really good at it. I would say that 80% of our days are booked with lash extension treatments. We have so many looks for our customers to pick from and that’s what makes us unique, we can design a set of lashes that is tailored specifically to an individual, we don’t do “one size fits all” lashes.
We are also Lash Lift experts. This is fast becoming a popular alternative to lash extensions. It is a modern twist on the lash perm. We always add a complimentary lash tint with this treatment to add an extra dimension to the results. It is amazing what a difference this can make.
To complete the whole look, we provide brow treatments – Threading Hair Removal and Brow Tints. Threading has become quite popular over the last few years, it is a form of hair removal using anti-bacterial cotton thread. The thread is twisted to form coils and then rolled over the skin and effectively plucks out the hairs. We have greater control with this technique, so our clients love how precise it and the defined shape that they get.
At the front of Just Lashes we have our Lash Bar. The Lash Bar is an interactive bar of product and testers that our customers can play with while waiting for their lash appointments or if they simply want to pop in and hang out for a while!
We have a range of cosmetics available for sale at the Lash Bar. We love to support Aussie brands, so we stock Garbo & Kelly and Model Rock. Garbo & Kelly has the most sensational range for the brows and their make-up palettes fly off the shelves, especially the Master of Illumination Highlighting Kit – this is probably our best seller and my personal favourite. Model Rock are specialists of strip lashes. There is still a big market for short-term wear strip lashes and we only want the best. Model Rock quality is AAA and they have a wide range of styles to choose from.
Can you tell us the reality of eyelash extensions? There have been stories around that Eyelash extensions will make your natural lashes fall out, lash technicians are all the same & things like they can damage your lashes. Can you give us your professional opinion on this?
Our biggest priority when designing a set of lashes, is protecting our clients’ natural eyelashes. Lash extensions won’t cause damage if they’re applied properly and It’s also important that the client follow correct home care. We take great care in the application of each individual extension. Each eyelash must be completely isolated while we use a special adhesive to bond the extension to the natural eyelash.
The reality is, not everyone who offers lash extension treatments are skilled lash technicians. Unfortunately, we still have clients coming to us for emergency removals after experiencing pain and discomfort. Usually this is caused by multiple extensions being clumped or suck together at the base, adhesive that has touched the skin or they’ve applied the extensions too close to the lash line and they’re sticking in to their eyelid. We also have seen clients who have lost their natural lashes from poorly applied extensions, so yes it can happen if the treatments not done with absolute precision. The eye area is very delicate and anyone thinking about getting lash extensions should consider a highly trained expert such as Just Lashes.
Please walk us through the key elements of your training program for franchisees and technicians. How would someone go about purchasing a Just Lashes franchise?
As we have our own unique methods of applying lash extensions we have developed our own in-house training program. The program designed to take new team members from knowing nothing about lashes to becoming a Master Specialist. We offer comprehensive training for new franchisees which includes lash extension training. However, some franchisees prefer not to be hands on with lashes and want to focus on the operation of the business.
The franchise is turn key, meaning we do everything from lease negotiations, design and shop fit to training, recruitment, marketing, inventory, and technology. We want our franchisees to hit the ground running. Our priority is that we partner with the right people, so our first step will be to find out whether we are the right fit for each other. We will provide franchise documentation for review and we always recommend legal and financial council before signing. Then we secure a location, we have a specialist who assists with this as well as negotiating the lease, which can be quite tricky if you don’t know what you’re doing. Just Lashes Head Office will be there to support you and your team during the opening month to ensure that everything is going smoothly.
Franchising is an amazing, yet unique business model so my first suggestion to anyone thinking about purchasing a Just Lashes, is to do some research about franchising. There are some great resources through the Franchising Council of Australia site www.fca.org.au.
For more information or to apply for a Just Lashes Franchise:
www.justlashes.com.au/own-a-justlashes or call us on 1300790898.
Can you name the top 3 factors that have contributed the most to the success of Just Lashes?
The first is absolutely its people. The culture at Just Lashes is very supportive and team orientated, which comes across in the customer experiences. Many of our clients say that they feel like part of the team. We are disciplined in our work, yet fun and engaging (even a little cheeky). That is who Just Lashes is.
Number – Our techniques and Systems. We’ve been in the lash game for a long time and over the years we’ve developed best practice in all areas of operating a lash extension business. This is why we franchise as we have so much to offer with our methods and systems.
Thirdly is brand consistency. Our clients have peace of mind knowing that if they attend a Just Lashes – where ever they are, they know what they’re going to get, how long it’s going to take and how much they’re going to pay. The Just Lashes client is typically a busy woman and convenience means everything, so we offer shopping centre locations. We train all our specialists the same way, so we are all using the same methods that our customers come to us for. We also conduct regular quality assurance to ensure that standards are being maintained.
You have just opened your 9th Just Lashes salon in Wollongong, in Wollongong Central on the 20th of April. What can you tell us about this opening and can you tell us why it’s such a highly anticipated opening?
We have been asked to open a salon in Wollongong for a while, so I was very excited about our ninth salon at Wollongong Central. Dani, the salon owner/franchisee had been part of the Just Lashes team for 2 years before deciding to make the investment into her own Just Lashes. It is very rewarding knowing that our employees love what we do so much that they want to be a part of it on a bigger scale.
The anticipation was very apparent after we launched our facebook page and it grew very quickly within a few short weeks, with lots of comments and messages from locals. We had lots of people booking in for their lash fix from our opening day and I am pleased to say that our opening was very successful.
We had a celebrity shouts out from Saint Clair – an international DJ who said she’s really excited about Just Lashes opening in Wollongong and she can’t wait to get back to Australia to get her lashes done. We also collaborated with Holly Moffit – celebrity stylist to put together an awesome prize package.
The girls at Just Lashes Wollongong are very talented – and they’re beautiful people too. They are located in North Building, near Type and Nadia’s Café. If you’re in the area please stop by to see the girls, they would be happy to answer any questions you have about lashes.
Just Lashes Wollongong: 0447 300 708