Chapter 4: Navigating & Launching a Business During Covid-19 with Clara Rodriguez

Hi everyone! Thank you for tuning into another Chapter of our Blog Series called The Stories Of Us. I want to start off by giving you some background on how Clara and I know each other.

We met over a year ago when Clara became my studio-mate at the beginning of 2019. She has been a professional makeup artist specializing in bridal for years and I happened to be looking for a makeup artist for an upcoming photoshoot. So, I asked her if she ventures out of bridal to do makeup for photoshoots. Lucky for me she excitedly said yes, and we’ve been working together ever since! Clara has such a wonderfully positive and calm demeanour, is extremely hard working (as you will read) and is an all-around a cool gal! I hope you like this chapter of The Stories Of Us, and I encourage you to connect with Clara on Instagram.

Tell us a bit about yourself and your story?

I've been a freelance hair and makeup artist in  Vancouver, BC for five years now. After graduating makeup school 5 years ago, I focused on the one thing I loved the most - bridal hair and makeup! By the end of my training, I found that my true passions were in enhancing my client's natural beauty while making them feel and look beautiful. I instantly fell in love with weddings and helping brides turn their wedding day beauty dreams into a reality after I did one of my best friend’s makeup for her wedding.  I took a plunge into starting a career in the wedding industry on my own and eventually grew a small team of other incredibly talented artists. To this day, there is no better feeling than to have a client sit in my chair, discuss their vision, trust and allow me to transform them using my creativity and art, and exceed their expectations!

You started your own hair and makeup company, the lovely artistry, and now run it with a team of hair and makeup artists. can you tell us about this journey? How long have you been doing this? 

My journey began when I got laid off of my office job 5 years ago, which coincidentally happened on the day as my birthday. I sat in front of the computer and thought what my next step would be and all these questions started running through my head. “Where do I want to be 5 years from now? 10 years? What do I love to do?” and I was stuck. All I knew was that I didn’t want to have a 9-5 job - period. 

I have always loved makeup and played around with it years before, but I never thought you could make a living off it. So I started researching, and spontaneously enrolled myself in makeup school, the following week I had a meeting with the admissions manager and the rest was history.

Fast forward to 6 months into makeup school, I met Jenny, the owner of Mink Hair & Makeup. A successful bridal hair and makeup company in Vancouver, B.C. She spoke about her business, running a team, and working in the wedding industry. She was so passionate about describing her day-to-day tasks and I was instantly inspired. I knew I had to do something similar to her story, and so I went for it and hoped for the best. I’m still nowhere near my goal and I’m always eager to grow and learn, so surrounding myself with positive and inspiring people helps with staying in line and keeping myself motivated.

You are also starting your own lash line called lolita lashes. what inspired you to start this? 

I’ve always had my hand in something and always juggled between ideas over the past year that could not only supplement my income, but a project that would keep me busy during the slow months of the wedding season. I’ve always had a deep love for dried flowers and initially thought of setting up a pop-up dried flower bar but immediately scratched that when I dove into its costs. I would bounce these ideas with a friend who has an eye for business and marketing, and she brought up starting a small-business that was already related to my field of work - beauty! It was like a smack in the head “Oh. Of course. Why didn’t I think of that!”. And after months of planning, Lolita Lashes was born.

My purpose for this brand is to empower everyone of any gender orientation, every colour, and eye shape that they could wear a style of lash, no matter how simple or glam, that would bring out their inner and outer beauty. The name was inspired by my grandma who, like me, loves everything beauty-related. One of the very few reasons how I got into this industry was spending most of my childhood days playing dress-up with my grandma which later on progressed into helping her get ready for any formal event. So it was without a doubt that I had to name my lash business after her. 

Will you be offering vegan lashes?

Yes! Before starting this project, I wanted to make sure I represented a brand that supported animal rights and I’m so proud and happy to say that all our lashes are 100% vegan and cruelty free. 

How does sustainability play a role in starting your lash business?

An essential goal I made while planning my next steps for my business was to implement a stronger sustainable business strategy where I was also promoting environmentally friendly alternatives in terms of packaging design. I wanted to perfect my packaging without creating so much waste and luckily, I’m surrounded with good people who were so willing to provide ideas and suggestions to create sustainable packaging. You’ll find that our materials can all be re-used, including the false eyelashes itself! With proper care, a pair of eyelashes can be reused up to 20 to 25 times. Not only do you save money but you’ll always have a stunning set of eyelashes ready to use each day.

What does a typical wedding morning look like for you?

A morning before a wedding is  typically a very busy one for me. Our start times vary depending on the start of the ceremony, but you’ll most likely find me up before 7:00 am rushing through my getting ready routine and making sure I leave the house on time. It’s so imperative as a bridal hair and makeup artist to ensure we start on time, so you’ll usually find me running around with a coffee in my hand. But the moment we start hair and makeup on our clients, the mood instantly changes to a fun and easy morning!

How has Covid-19 affected your business? what are your goals for the following months? 

It’s been a roller coaster of emotions since this started but I always try to look at something deemed negative and turn that into something positive. I believe that this slow season can also be a blessing in regards to my business or any. When business is slow take that time to ingest as much information as you can and grow your business. One thing that I’m slowly getting into is taking the time in my day to learn and grow. Which can mean either reading on some business books, going on Pinterest and culling new ideas, diving into business podcasts, Skillshare, and even Youtube videos - something that I’ve always struggled to set aside time for before quarantine life. Another is implementing a new marketing strategy and finally taking that time to learn about Facebook ads, Instagram and Google Analytics. Do everything and anything to learn! Know that no drought lasts forever. If you’re going through a rough time during this season, it won’t last forever. Keep your spirits up and you will get through it. 

If you could leave our conscious community with one message about entrepreneurship and/or freelancing, what would it be?

If you have an idea that you feel really passionate about and want to make a living doing something you love, go for it!  It’s never easy in the beginning, you will fail not once and not even twice but it's those challenges that help you become wiser in making the right decision. I had no idea and had no experience how to run a bridal hair and makeup business in the beginning, let alone run a team, and I had other artists who were in the industry much longer tell me that I couldn’t do it. However, I went through with my ideas, worked non-stop, and nurtured those around me, such as my team members and clients -which eventually played a huge role in helping my business grow. Take care of the people who took their time to invest in you and bless them with more, always know that with generosity comes with great abundance.

One of the most essential and simplest advice I got growing up was, ‘you reap what you sow’. And I believe in that saying so much, every open door that I walked through led me to meet someone amazing and so inspiring, and I couldn’t be more thankful for those people! 

Where can we find your work?

You can find my bridal hair and makeup adventures on Instagram @TheLovelyArtistry and I haven’t officially launch Lolita Lashes yet but be sure to keep your eyes peeled on @LolitaLashes_

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