Lash Lounge - An Interview with Founder Anna Phillips
Industry pioneer Anna Phillips is the founder and chief innovation officer at The Lash Lounge, a premier eyelash salon franchise with over 115 salons across the U.S. and growing. Founded in 2006, Phillips’s specialty beauty concept was the first salon dedicated to eyelash extensions in the U.S. and has expanded to 30 states.
Anna began her career in IT but always felt like something was missing. At a career crossroads in the early 2000s, she knew it was the right time to make a change—she decided to pursue her lifelong passion of helping others feel more confident about themselves. She became a licensed masseuse and esthetician and landed a position as one of the first massage therapists at Google, which sparked her entrepreneurial spirit.
After an unexpected move to Texas with her husband, Anna discovered semi-permanent lash extensions—a brand-new beauty service in the U.S. at the time—and became one of the first to offer this service in the country.
After experiencing overwhelming demand for her eyelash extension services, Anna took a leap of faith and opened the first Lash Lounge, a full salon dedicated exclusively to providing lash extensions. An instant success, she opened two more salons within the first two years. After her third location, Anna realized the concept she’d created could be replicable as a franchise system. In 2016, she partnered with franchise-focused growth equity firm Franworth to expand on a national scale and has since awarded over 300 licenses!
Anna’s passion for helping others feel beautiful, confident and cared for has fueled her unparalleled success—transforming a single-room operation into a national brand that’s had an impact on more than 90,000 guests nationwide.
Elevated: What prompted your career shift from I.T. to beauty and aesthetics?
Anna Phillips: When I was first introduced to lash extensions, I was amazed by the process and how such a service could impact someone’s day-to-day look and self-esteem so easily. After determining that I wanted to find a new career path that allowed me to help and serve others, I decided this beauty service that made women feel more confident was the perfect opportunity. I started in a single room rental and the demand quickly exceeded my expectations. This confirmed I had chosen the perfect path, which led me to evolve my little business into an eyelash salon franchise!
With over 115 Lash Lounge locations nationwide, what fuels your drive for success?
I continue to be inspired and motivated by the ecstatic faces of women after they see themselves with their new look following an appointment. Helping women look and feel their best is the foundation of our business and continues to inspire all of our team members.
What has been the biggest lesson you’ve learned from taking such a major leap of faith into the lash world?
I feel very fortunate that I discovered a great service at the right time and was in a position to seize the opportunity. I didn’t attend an Ivy League school or develop a fancy new type of software, but I was passionate about this service and my attitude has always been to never give up and always to “figure it out.” So, my hope is that other women who feel like ‘I can’t do that’ because they don’t have the experience or skill set see this as just one example of ‘you can!’ You can absolutely do it and look at what level you could possibly do it at. Who knew this one-room business that I started would grow into 115 locations across the country!
What do you envision for the future of The Lash Lounge?
One aspect I’m very proud of is the importance we place on providing an excellent and unique guest experience through both service and quality. We’re able to do so thanks to our passionate franchisees and the brilliant professional lash stylists they bring on board. My Lash Lounge motivation has always been to create a place where women can feel comfortable, confident and cared for and where we can help them feel as beautiful on the outside as they are on the inside. A big part of that is our commitment to lash customization; it’s what sets us apart from competition. I created our patented exclusive lash design technique, drawing upon the principles of face mapping, to tailor everyone’s lash look based on what will complement their eyes and face the most. There’s no off-the-shelf lash design at The Lash Lounge! Armed with this differentiator and our first-class guest experience, we started selling franchises in 2009, and by 2017, we really hit the ground running! To date, we’ve sold over 450 units. My goal is to continue on this path—to keep opening more salons, to develop and introduce the best products and lash services to members across the country, and to make more women feel beautiful and confident!
What are your top self-care tips for the winter season?
With the colder winter months, the air gets much drier which can cause our skin and hair to dry out—including our lashes. There are a ton of topical products that provide hydration from the outside in, but it’s just as important to be mindful of your inner health. Eating a diet high in fatty acids and vitamins, like avocados, salmon, eggs, and coconut oil, will help keep your skin and hair (and lashes) glowing and healthy year-round.