What if there were a safer and easier way to apply false lashes? Eye surgeon Dr. Anika Goodwin Hilderbrand, a recipient of the COVID-19 Business for All Emergency Grant through the Stacy's Rise Project, launched her magnetic lash brand, OpulenceMD Beauty, to fill just that need.
Goodwin Hilderbrand came to the idea after years of wearing lash extensions that started out perfect but soon required high-maintenance touch ups.
“I wore individual lash extensions for many, many years until I got so busy with work and family that I didn’t have enough time to go in every two to three weeks to have my lashes reapplied and filled in,” she says. “I found myself stretching out the intervals longer, having more gaps in my lash, and looking worse than when I had on my natural lashes or mascara. So I needed to find something that I can do on myself, on my own time, that doesn’t take so long.”
She began to research and stumbled upon magnetic lashes, then a new product in the market. Each lash comes with a magnetic eyeliner formulated with microscopic iron oxide particles that adheres to the band of the magnetic lashes and ensures a secure fit.
“I went on and found them and tried them. They were easy, but they were really heavy, and I felt like there was something on my lids,” Goodwin Hilderbrand says. “So I started to manipulate the lash extensions to see if I could take some of the lashes, what I can do to make it lighter, trying to split the bands. And I wasn’t successful at coming up with a workable lash.”
Soon after, Goodwin Hilderbrand joined what's called a "business mastermind," or a networking group for entrepreneurs, where she met a founder who had experience helping others start beauty brands of their own. “We set out on a journey, and the result was OpulenceMD,” says Goodwin Hilderbrand.
Today, her product line offers an array of magnetic lashes, from shorter, natural-looking lashes to voluminous, eye-popping looks, all for different occasions like weddings or pageants.
As an eye surgeon, her dedication to ocular health is embedded throughout her beauty brand; OpulenceMD Beauty takes a portion of its proceeds to provide free eye exams for people without access.
“My vision for OpulenceMD Beauty is very married to my vision as an eye surgeon. One of my goals with this brand is to be sure that the 25% of U.S. counties that lack eye care of any sort have access to eye exams, so that’s what makes me so excited for this brand,” she says.
Launching a business right before a pandemic can pose some challenges for many founders, including Goodwin Hilderbrand, who faced supply chain issues.
“My manufacturer was in China, and they were hit the hardest first," she says. "I started to feel those supply chain breakdowns, even in prelaunch when I was trying to get my initial product in. It taught me to not put all my eggs in one basket. As much as I love my one manufacturer, I had to start look into other countries and other manufacturing possibilities, and it made me a lot more agile as a company, realizing that when you have to make moves and you have to pivot, you need to have other options already in place.”
It can be intimidating to start a beauty business with the number of brands in the industry. But Goodwin Hilderbrand encourages aspiring beauty founders to go all in.
“Don’t be put off about the fact that there are so many brands and so much competition,” says Goodwin Hilderbrand. “Most things have been done over the course of time, but nobody can do it just like you. So don’t be put off by the fact there are a gazillion clean beauty brands, or there are gazillion lipstick brands. Nobody will bring it to the market exactly like you will. Go with that. Put your own personality, your own shine. Pour yourself into it, and people will appreciate it, and it will stand out.”
Do you have beauty business of your own? Check out the Hello Alice Beauty & Wellness Industry Resource Center for resources, how-to guides, and more to help you grow your business and succeed during COVID-19 and beyond.