Since 3500 BC having dark, long, luscious eyelashes have been “trending”. The Egyptians, both male & female, desired them especially to protect their eyes from the sun – the Romans even considered long lashes as a sign of morality and virginity whereas short lashes were a sign of aging. We’re going to skip the Middle Ages because they literally plucked their lashes out for whatever reason and fast forward to the 1900’s when modern day artificial eyelashes started to make their way on our faces and by the 1950’s false eyelashes have become a staple to many. 

In 1911 the glue on strip lash was invented by Anna Taylor becoming a big hit in Hollywood and spearheaded trends we saw in the 50’s & 60’s from icons such as Marilyn Monroe and Rita Hayworth. It wasn’t until 2014 magnetic lashes debuted invented by Katy Stoka. Many women flocked to these alternatives as they are more affordable than lash extensions and don’t need a lash technician to apply. 

Taking advantage of this booming, billion dollar industry is the innovative Ashlee Sarai of Mink Envy Lash. You’ve probably seen her lashes on Ciara & Jess Hilarious and she’s not stopping; she’s actually raising the bar by (ready for it) installing her Mink Envy Lashes Vending Machines in malls and shopping centers – yes, you read correctly, vending machine, for lashes. Epic. 

Q: Why lashes? What’s your connection? 

My love of lashes began as a customer/lash lover and grew into an obsession to find the perfect ones! So I created my own! I love the confidence that lashes bring and was determined to bring that to ALL women. I never dreamt of being a CEO so if I can do it, any woman can! I was a school bus driver turned beauty boss with a love for luxe looks. I spent my start-up years growing the brand organically through social media. My husband and I eventually became known as the “lash uber” because we would deliver lashes day in and day out as demand grew!

Q: What makes Mink Envy lashes different from others? 

I take pride in my business and the products I sell. I go through every single lash to make sure it’s as perfect as possible. If not perfect, it doesn’t ship. I take time to hear my customers’ opinions and if there’s something specific they want, I get it for them. It’s important to me to try to establish relationships and experiences. I want to have a community where women feel beautiful, comfortable, and can be themselves unapologetically!

Q: What were some of your earlier struggles?

Some earlier struggles have been finding time to deliver eyelashes, maintain a 9 to 5 job and ship orders at the same time. It brought a lot of stress and I ultimately had to decide which route to take when I had a great job but also a great dream ahead of me. The road to success is never smooth. It’s so important for women to understand that road blocks can be blessings in disguise. I want women to know that they can do anything they want in life, that they don’t have to live tied to a job. I took the leap and left a government job with benefits to start an eyelash empire! I didn’t have a business background but I had faith in my vision. It’s never too late to be anyone you want to be and follow your dreams. The journey is certainly not always easy but it’s important to make lessons from your losses.

Q: Your Oprah ‘Ah-Ha’ moment to create a Mink Lash vending machine?

My Oprah ‘Ah Ha’ moment came when I started to miss the experience of doing lash deliveries. I still wanted to be able to provide a fast, convenient, on-hand pick-up experience for my local customers like our old lash uber days while still being able to grow my business and fill orders. Adding on Lash Vending Machines did exactly that and was the most genius idea ever for us! 

Q: Why cosmetic vending machines? 

The Beauty industry is a Billion Dollar industry that is constantly evolving and growing. Women love to enhance their look, switch up their looks and feel beautiful so Cosmetic Vending machines was a really fast and convenient way to sell products on demand in multiple places especially without having to be person to person. 

Q: What advice do you have for other women who wish to start their own business? 

I have so much advice to give, I can go all day but to start with the most important advice for the beginning is one, don’t let your competition discourage you, there’s room for you! Even if it doesn’t seem like it, there is! In a room full of many, you can be so different! Two –  Please don’t let people tell you your idea is stupid or won’t make money. I’ve had people tell me lashes won’t make much or people can go to the store and get them but now look at me! Three –  Don’t compare yourself to others, your journey is unique. It’s not a race, don’t feel jealous if you see another woman moving faster than you. It’s OK to ask her for guidance.