A pair of estheticians and best friends from St. John’s are starting a lash revolution.
Dianna Dwyer, 30, and Kristie Lawlor, 27, recently abandoned their separate home-based eyelash extension businesses in favour a joint venture called House of Glam: Beauty, Brains and Badass Lashes.
But the duo’s new bricks and mortar home at 311 Hamilton Ave. in the heart of the city is more than just a studio where clients can get lashes extended, tinted and lifted in a clean and safe environment, it’s a place of learning and, hopefully, the birthplace of a movement to bring regulations to an industry that is currently without any in this province.
“We have no regulations here in the province, so it's allowing anybody to do whatever and people are literally just printing off certificates saying that they are educators and then they're training people in their basement,” says Dwyer, who broke into the eyelash world four years ago as a means of supporting herself as she completed a bachelor degree in health sciences in Nova Scotia, one of three Canadians provinces, along with Manitoba and New Brunswick, with legislation governing the relatively new industry.
“They're getting paid $1,500 or $2,000, with probably hardly any experience, and training somebody and that's one more person who's not going to be competent. They’re just increasing incompetency in the lash industry and we don't want to do that. We really want to focus on making sure we have the best. Not everybody is capable of doing lashes, like all trades.”
Like a lot of esthetic services, there are risks with eyelash extensions, and both Dwyer and Lawlor have witnessed — and corrected — the work of lash artists or technicians who have improperly applied the product to their clients.
They’ve seen people with corneas scratched by sharp tweezers, eyelashes glued together, allergic reaction to adhesives and cases of blepharitis — an infection of the eyelids that causes them to become red, irritated and itchy with dandruff-like scales forming on the eyelashes.
“A lot of people don't know it and that's the problem and that's what we want to enforce here,” says Lawlor, who came to the world of lashes about three years ago, having been trained by Dwyer, and is now certified as a lash educator.
“We want to be telling people and educating our clients that there are risks involved.”
For instance, they say many clients are not being informed about the need to regularly shampoo and clean one’s lash extensions to avoid the buildup of bacteria that could lead to conditions like blepharitis or, worse still, eyelash mites that could lead to eyelashes falling out.
At House of Glam, their goal is not only to do the job right, but to train others to do the same. As such, Dwyer and Lawlor are busy putting together a lash certification program that they’ll run out of their studio.
“We think that you actually have to show that you are competent. You can't just get a certificate, it takes time,” says Dwyer.
Not satisfied to stop there, they also hope to partner with the Canadian Optometry Association in designing the training program.
“I would love to speak with somebody from that organization to see how we can minimize the risk and what we can do to make our program a little bit better or what processes we can do during the application that may minimize any risk for eye infections or eye conditions.”
Their program will see up to six pupils take part in two full days of theory, followed by a day of practical exams on mannequins, followed by six lash applications under Dwyer or Lawlor’s supervision. Students must then pass a theory exam and a practical exam before obtaining certification.
“We have so much interest, but we haven't completely finished developing it yet because we want it to be perfect,” says Lawlor, noting they’ve received inquiries from more than 30 individuals so far.
The House of Glam owners have already brought on two apprentices who are well into their training, one of whom will also offer some makeup services inside the spacious, modern studio.
To further help their clients avoid any lash disasters, while also adding another revenue stream to the new business, Dwyer and Lawlor have worked with some out-of-province manufacturers to develop a line of House of Glam branded and approved products.
“Anything you order, you have to wait for shipping, but our products are right here and you can come down and get it,” says Dwyer. “We're making products more accessible to people in Newfoundland and we plan on selling and distributing worldwide.”
The official website is still under development, but to find out more about the products and services or to book an appointment, check them out on Facebook by searching House of Glam.