How do you start a lash company and make it successful?

photo credit: instagram.com/ashlashofficial

Q&A with Ashlyn Coco, the owner and creator of AshLash

By Jessica Militello

AshLash is an online lash company based in California that was started in 2017 by entrepreneur, model, creative, and ultimate Hollywood glamour queen, Ashlyn Coco. I first discovered her lashes via Instagram at some point in 2018. I remember scrolling through the feed and seeing images of the golden era of Hollywood and its glamorous women, the color pink, Lana Del Rey quotes scattered throughout many of the captions, and lashes that seemed to perfectly compliment its wearers each and every time. I was always fascinated and inspired by how someone would even go about starting their own line. Ashlyn was kind enough to take the time to answer my questions via email on what inspired her and how she used her dreams, passion, hard work, and tons of research in order to create her dream lash brand.

JM: Where did you first get the inspiration to start a lash brand?

AC: I got the inspiration to develop a lash brand based on the fact that what I truly wanted in a lash was not available on the current market. In the many years of wearing lashes I felt that they were either too heavy, too itchy, or not quite cut how I would want them – or a combination of all! I also felt packaging was really lacking. Like most, I’m a sucker for presentation, and thought how wonderful it would be to create a box that evoked my style, and something I could carry my lashes in. I was always losing my lashes, forcing me to buy them more often. Any of the ones I was using, I usually wore about three times, then discarded. This was another thing that made me wonder if I could create a brand with all the things I really wanted for myself, and probably many others!

JM: Do you own AshLash by yourself?

AC: I began as a sole proprietor. To my surprise, there was interest from a few people to invest in my idea. I was fortunate to get to work with others who I still think of as my close friends, and mentors, who helped me really bring my brand into the public eye! I currently own AshLash.

JM: I love how your aesthetic combines old Hollywood glamour, pin-up girls, movie stars, and current singers who’ve subscribed to that vibe like Lana Del Rey- what inspired you to market your brand this way?

AC: I had no idea that there were so many people like me, and that there was such a community based on a certain “aesthetic.” I noticed this style was gaining traction on Instagram throughout different subcultures/fandoms. I just sort of created my brand based on an amalgam of all things I loved personally, and it seemed to capture so many different people, coming from different interests! 

JM: When did you first become interested in the old films, movie stars, etc.-and how has it shaped your opinions on beauty?

AC: I love this because the memories are so vivid. I spent a lot of time growing up in upstate New York, around my traditional Italian family. All of the houses I spent time in were built in the early 20th century, and the old music was always playing. My uncles had old Playboys, pin-up magazines, and just about any vintage memorabilia in the basements. I loved that nostalgic feeling, even before I really knew what that was.  I think my family just kept it “old school” automatically, as if nothing had changed, so it was all I knew!

AshLash founder Ashlyn Coco-photo credit: instagram.com/ashlashofficial

JM: What is your background before AshLash?

AC: Anything artistic! I went to cosmetology school as a teen, but realized I wanted to do a little bit more. I also loved fashion, creating, and designing new ideas/products. I began my own swimwear line with my Dad many moons ago!

JM: How do you choose the names and styles of your lashes?

AC: For some, I thought of people who inspired me, and tried to tie it to a modern take on a lash that they would wear today. For others, I thought of “looks” I would want to create and based the names on vibes/ matching aesthetics I wanted the lash to imbue.

photo credit: instagram.com/ashlashofficial

JM: Why was it important for your lashes to be vegan faux mink?

AC: When I began all my research and sampling process, I really learned a lot about the materials and where things come from, if not synthetic. Personally, the mink lashes on the market were beautiful yes, but very heavy and not so comfortable, which went against what I had originally set out to create – a comfortable lash. I had done more research on the confusing “cruelty-free, mink lashes,” and realized that there was indeed cruelty behind it. Of course, I didn’t think it was ethical to use animal products for vanity.  I understood why people wanted mink based on the natural curl, and appearance, but it inspired me to find that with a synthetic lash.

JM: How much research and networking are involved in starting a beauty brand?

AC: SO much. The process is very hard, but if you learn from the ground up on your own, through trial and error, nothing is more valuable! Being self-taught is very important, and things will continue to happen if you find the right people and mentors.

JM: How did you know where to get started or what the first step was to begin a lash company?

AC: I did have a little experience from creating brands before. Dreaming up the branding is the fun part but taking it to paper is another thing. Sourcing was an important first step, because moving forward with a superior product is first and foremost!

JM: What are your memories of when you first started promoting the brand and trying to build a client base?

AC: I think that because I already had a little Instagram community of people with similar interests, it was definitely a head start on targeting my client base. I remember being nervous, but also very excited that I could finally give someone a new glamorous option for their beauty routine. I knew our packaging was unique, and I remember having fun photographing the little powder boxes (we have patented!) 

AshLash’s patented boxes! photo credit: instagram.com/ashlashofficial

JM: How did you know which lash manufacturer was best for you and what was that process in finding one like?

AC: This was extremely hard. The US currently does not have any infrastructure or factories to create lashes, making all false lashes imported. I began by testing, testing, testing. A lot of lashes are very bad quality. They may look beautiful, but the durability and feel in real life is crucial for quality. My manufacturer is wonderful because they have really taken my sketches to life and created what I had hoped for in not only the lash itself, but also the packaging. I went through hundreds of samples, different materials, making methods, and sketches back and forth, with many different companies.

JM: Did you have any doubts or worries about starting a brand and having success-what inspiration did you go to in order to overcome it?

AC: Always! I worry constantly, haha. Mainly because I get overwhelmed with ideas, and have a hard time figuring out what to move forward with, and failing. There is never a crystal ball, so you have to take the chance and see how it goes. Starting small is a good thing, and if it’s a small investment with your time or money – then start! Ensconce yourself in learning on your own, every single day. In this case, I would definitely say my Dad inspired me to overcome any obstacle, or excuse not to start. 

JM:  Do you think social media has been your most effective method for spreading the word and building a client base?

AC: Yes! This was how the brand probably captured most of its fanbase, over anything else.

JM: Has the pandemic had an effect on your business in any way, if yes-what ideas have you come up with in adaptation to it?

AC: In a way, but not how you would think. People might want to be more frugal in these uncertain times, or some may want to create from home, and want to splurge on beauty products. My idea might seem very odd in response, but with the state of the world, I have felt it a little difficult to promote products as often. We are always around and running though! 

JM: For 2021, are there already some new lash styles and other accessories in the works to come out? 

AC: So glad you asked, as we’re quietly working on a collaboration due in time for V-day. Can’t wait for you to see what it is! ❤

photo credit: instagram.com/ashlashofficial

Check out AshLash on Instagram at @Ashlashofficial or go to the website to add some glamour in your life at www.ash-lash.com

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