Brought to you by Amazing Lash Studio
As a semi-retired educator a few years back, Tampa’s Nicole Blake knew she wasn’t ready to call it quits on the working world just yet. She already co-owned a Massage Envy location with her husband and was looking for a new small business opportunity when she met a representative of Amazing Lash Studio, an eyelash extension franchise with more than 200 locations nationwide. Quickly, Blake realized the need for lash extensions in Tampa.
“As we grow older, our natural lashes start to grow more slowly and get thinner,” she says. “Amazing Lash was a perfect fit for me personally.”
Blake now owns and operates Amazing Lash locations in Carrollwood, South Tampa and Wesley Chapel (opening in February). She says the sites are chosen to help meet the needs of all women between the ages of 25 and 60 who make up the largest part of her current client base. Each studio is staffed by licensed estheticians and cosmetologists who undergo more than 40 hours of intensive training to learn Amazing Lash’s patented and proprietary techniques to increase patient comfort and make the lash application process simpler.
“Lash extensions are all we do. We are totally focused on being the industry’s leader,” Blake says. “In addition to choosing a length and thickness that is appropriate for your natural lash, we place a lot of emphasis on lash aftercare from month to month with our maintenance program. The health of your natural lashes is our priority.”
After clients choose a lash style (gorgeous, natural, sexy or cute), stylists will work with them to customize the lash to their eye shape and size. This personalized attention helps create happy customers who will spread the word about Amazing Lash to friends and family.
“Our biggest form of advertising in the lash business is word of mouth,” she adds. “Referrals are everything.”
As the leader of the business, Blake, along with her Manager Arianna, creates the emphasis on staff culture, professional development and customer service at the top, spreading it throughout the organization to ensure each Lash Stylist and Consultant enjoys their jobs and each guest enjoys their full experience at their studio. Their mission statement drives them every day — to create lasting beauty and confidence through passion, dedication and excellence, so their guests will look and feel amazing!
“My favorite thing about owning my own business is being able to execute my vision and finding the right path to what works. It is like a puzzle. I like figuring out what inspires my staff and what appeals most to the women who come into my studios,” Blake says. “It’s about being a leader and setting the tone and the culture.”
The biggest challenge of running three businesses is balancing work and family life, adds Blake, a wife and the mother of two kids.
“You’re responsible for keeping the train on the track,” she says. “It’s cliché, but you have to create a good team because you really are only as good as the people around you. When you walk into an organization, you shouldn’t know who the boss is.”
Blake advises other women looking to go into business for themselves to build a camaraderie with other women entrepreneurs through networking events and by joining organizations like the International Women’s Franchise Association and Tampa Housewives in the City, both of which she is a participant.
“You have to have a support system to bounce ideas off of, even someone to go with you to those events,” she says. “It’s better when you have someone there.”
For Blake, one key member of her support system is her daughter. A recent New York University graduate, her daughter has helped Blake during school breaks, working alongside her mother to get a firsthand look at being a leader.
“We’re trying to get her to open her own film business,” Blake says. “It’s important that she understands whatever you want to accomplish takes sacrifice but that she can do it.”
For her daughter and any other future entrepreneurs, Blake adds, the most important step toward your goals is the very first one.
“Martin Luther King Jr. has this great quote: ‘Faith is taking the first step even when you don’t see the rest of the staircase.’ That’s my advice to other women looking to start their own business — have faith!”