Photo by VelourLashes.com
Mabel Lee wasn’t your typical university undergrad. While she had a dream of someday becoming a lawyer, she also had a hobby of creating lashes during her own time and soon she’d change the lash game as we now know it. Today, Lee is best known as the Founder and CEO of one of my favourite beauty brands, Velour. The Canadian luxury lash brand started off as an e-commerce business and has quickly made its way into major beauty retailers such as Sephora.
Recently I chatted with Lee at Velour’s Live In Lashes Tour to talk about her brand and what is yet to come! Ready to get inspired? Read on to learn how this Canadian babe turned her hobby into a busines as she shares the evolution of Velour Lashes!
Q: How did Velour Lashes come about?
Mabel Lee: Seven years ago, I was in university and I was obsessed with false eyelashes. Back then I didn’t know much about makeup but faux lashes were my thing. At the time there really wasn’t anything that fulfilled my needs, so on the weekends I made it a hobby of mine to create my own lashes!
Slowly I began sourcing other materials other than plastic and tried my best to create the softest eyelashes out there. A year into this hobby of mine, my friend and I started making lashes in my living room, which lead to me selling these 11 styles we created. Soon, another friend made us a website, then we launched it and that’s how Velour Lashes came to life.
Q: Velour Lashes is a huge name in the lash category. What was the brand’s major breakthrough?
Mabel Lee: Back then we did a trade show at IMATS Toronto and Beyonce’s makeup artist, Wei Lang, was there. People’s Magazine interviewed Lang later and she told the publication, “I always use mink lashes on her. They look amazing. I use strips by Velour called ‘Are Those Real? She buys them by the ton.” This quote made headlines and the business took off over night because more celebs started using Velour after.
Q: What were your goals for the brand
Mabel Lee: When I decided to dedicate my all into the brand, my goal was to get into Sephora. I was determined to get in within the first five years. Within three years into the business, I was approached by Sephora to enter their doors and we became their first luxury lash line to be sold in Sephora.
Q: Were you ever faced with any challenges?
Mabel Lee: At the time we first launched in Sephora, we only had three people working for the brand. It was definitely a huge learning curve but I wouldn’t have had it any other way. I did have to learn everything within the business in a short amount of time and it taught me so much so I wouldn’t have had it any other way.
Q: How does it feel knowing your brand is a pilot for the fluffy lash trend?
Mabel Lee: I’m so proud of that and I’m so flattered but I can’t take all the credit. I owe all of that success to YouTubers and beauty influencers. When we first started six years ago, gurus and influencers weren’t what they are now but we built strong relationships with them and they really are the ones who also helped create our brand.
Q: What insight do you have for young women who want to start their own beauty brand?
Mabel Lee: I see so much ambition amongst the millennial generation but there’s a lack of understanding of how much work it actually takes. My advice is to be ready for the amount of work that may not always be so glamourous.
Yes, I may have gained a lot of success with my brand exposure and having worked towards my brand now being in Sephora’s, but I also don’t have much time on my hands. You have to be prepared to give that up to gain what you dream of.
Q: Why did you decide to re-brand?
Mabel Lee: When we first started, branding wasn’t anything! I just wanted to put lashes in a nice box and sell it to people who cared just as much as I did about false lashes. Now that the business has grown to where it is, I want more out of Velour and I want people who purchase the product to know that it is a name they can trust.
The re-branding also wasn’t just about a new box, it was to send a message that lashes can be a part of your daily beauty routine. We wanted consumers to believe they could live in lashes the way they do wearing lipstick daily. It should be a part of your beauty routine and I think lashes give me the confidence to take on my day.
Q: What’s next for Velour?
Mabel Lee: Definitely becoming more than just a lash brand but also dipping into cosmetics. Maybe something that focuses around the eye area, but I won’t say too much because you’ll have to wait and see 😉!