Eyelashes have grown far beyond the singular strip. Lash extension pros like Anastasia Hoff, owner of Spark Studio, can choose from classic straighter and thicker lashes or volume lashes, which are finer clusters of two to six lashes. She can also select from four different lengths or customized ones and decide to attach the lashes from base-to- end or to the base only, depending on the natural lash and its needs.
“I let the lashes tell me what they want,” says Hoff—“I’d never put a 16mm lash on a
natural baby lash. I prefer to mimic the natural lash. For special requests, I will add
longer ones at the ends but keep the outer corners shorter because of how we sleep. I don’t do ‘garage sale’ or ‘daddy-long- legs’ lashes.”
Among all the mathematical possibilities, there’s one mainstay Hoff says she’s learned: To do lashes in a highly customized and ergonomic way, a suite is the only way to go.
“Salons want you to follow a certain procedure or protocol within a specific time frame,” explains Hoff, whose Spark Studio is in Salons by JC’s Southdale Square, Edina, Minnesota, location. “The owners don’t fully understand specialties, especially if they aren’t cosmetologists. And there’s no way they are going to buy a $250 Glamcor light, which allows me to see and separate lashes perfectly without straining my back or eyes. In a suite, I don’t have to do lashes by following an A-B-C protocol; I can create individually tailored lashes, which is what I love. I can also schedule 15-minute breaks between services. Body awareness is huge when you are bending over a client for two-and-a-half hours.”
Hoff, who worked in a waxing studio, then a full-service salon, after graduating from the Aveda school with an esthetics license, says that over time, she realized her hard work wasn’t valued. She couldn’t run a special—or avoid running one for too long—and was paid hourly. Even when she reached benchmarks to get a “bonus” on product sales, it amounted to about $150 on $1,000 in sales, and reaching $999 didn’t cut it.
“I couldn’t ask for things I needed, like the proper light to reduce my eye strain or comfortable seating,” recalls Hoff. “I had signed a contract that if I left within a year, had to repay for my Novalash Extension training.” Showing up to her exit interview with a fist full of cash, Anastasia opted out of her contract and in January 2017 opened her salon suite at Salons by JC.
In investigating various situations, says Hoff, in-salon rooms for rent weren’t right, one suite building “looked bad from the outside” and another looked like its “tired sister on the inside.”
“Salons by JC felt youthful and rejuvenated,” she says. “As the twelfth tenant to sign a lease, I chose my suite strategically: I wanted to be seen from the concierge’s desk. I had a local artist paint wall mural in my suite—it even sort of looks like me.”
With lash extensions becoming so mainstream that lash bars are appearing around the country, a suite also offers the privacy and personalization that most women prefer when getting the service.
A former bartender and yoga instructor, Hoff can now use her natural gifts to enjoy her clients and deliver safe, super-customized services in a suite of her own. She takes clients 4 days out of the week or more, depending on her schedule, doing anything from lash extensions and fills or even brow waxing. A brow wax is a natural addition to lash services. She would definitely love to see more male clients for back waxing.
She’s currently looking into the various requirements to do lash lifting (perming) paired with semi-permanent mascara. And while she might add skin care in the future (not a multi-level marketing brand, she stresses) she won’t be doing facials because extractions just aren’t her thing.
“I want to stay in my lane and own the lash market,” she says. “For that, my best business builders are before and after photos and videos. If only I’d known sooner about the power of social media!”
Lash extensions are the newest professional must-have and Hoff’s Classic lashes are $200, while her Volume lashes are $250. Fills are $60 and $75 respectively. Anyone can book her services online. Follow her on Facebook @sparkstudiomn or on Instagram @sparkstudiomn.