fancy lash waiting room

Kathy Duong was studying biotechnology when she realised her passion lay in beauty. Now she’s bringing lush lashes to Sydney’s beauty insiders. Editor-in-Chief Anita Quade spoke to Kathy for our September-October issue and discussed everything from finding and keeping your passion, to defining your business’s aesthetic.

Tell us how you chose the location for Fancy Lash?

“It was chosen upon the aspects of convenience and ease. Finding a central location was key as Sydney city is so busy. I also wanted to find a place that was close to public transport and easy enough to find. Being located central in the busy city of Sydney is great as well as being close to a main train station and bus line as parking in the city is often a struggle. Fancy Lash is located in the heart of Pott Points to allow clients to simply step in and out without the hassle of trying to locate the salon.”

The interiors are stunning – what was the vibe that you were going for?

“I wanted to create a space that was both relaxing and comfortable that truly made clients feel welcome and at ease. I had the pleasure of working with the architectural and interior design team from Alexander and Co. to create a space I had envisioned for Fancy Lash. The soft tones of pink and white complement the wooden features of the salon, and I feel that when you walk in you are in escaping the bustling city.”

entering fancy lash
Entering Fancy Lash, Potts Point

How important is it to set the ambience for a salon?

“Ambience is so important especially being located in the heart of the city where there is constant road and foot traffic. I wanted clients to walk in and instantly feel calmed by the soothing music and soft tones of colours and interiors. I think it makes a huge difference and puts the client at peace knowing we take pride not only in our service but the presentation and look of our salon.”

Do you have a favourite piece?

“My favourite piece in the salon is our beauty chairs for our clients. As you know appointment time for each service of applying lash extensions ranges from 45 minutes to 2 hours, so investing in professional and high-quality furniture is key to making sure the clients experience is the most comfortable and relaxing during their time here.”

What sets Fancy Lash apart from other lash salons?

Fancy Lash has three main differences:

  1. Fancy Lash extensions last up to nine weeks, saving their clients important time and money whereas most competitors last three to five weeks and this is due to their unique technique for applying each lash to the eyelid. Performed with precision and care, with the clients eye shape and desired look always in mind.
  2. Fancy Lash takes the time to fill approximately 90% of the client’s lash. Their competitors only cover up to 70-80% which results to bad retention and little time between infill appointments that not only takes up time but money where it could be speared.
  3. The cut of the Fancy Lash extension material has a special form (a diamond cut) where it ultimately improves lash retention by a massive 30% that also adds
kathy duong with roxy jacenko
Fancy Lash founder Kathy Duong with Roxy Jacenko at The Butler.

Tell us about your background?

“I left Vietnam in 2009 with my mother and sister and I was just 21 years old enrolled in my third year in Biotechnology. My mother always wanted me to pursue a career in the medical industry such as a doctor, pharmacist or at least a nurse which inevitably lead me into the field of biotech. However, whilst being a student I was also about to become a wife and mother, having my first child at 25 and second only four years later.”

So how did you juggle motherhood and starting a business?

“It wasn’t until my husband asked me one day “where do you see yourself”, that I had thought about what my passion truly was in life and how I had been pressured into studying a course I didn’t actually enjoy only because I had felt guilty because of my mother’s sacrifice moving away from home.

I decided to look into the beauty industry and started working casually at a nail salon however early on I learnt that I was allergic to the chemicals in acrylic powders and polish. This then led me into an eyelash extension course where I fell in love with the art and would spend hours practicing every night when my children would go to bed.

 I spent over six months investigating the market by working in various lash salons around Sydney and first launched my business as just a room sharing with a hair salon in Surry Hills.”

The treatment rooms at Fancy Lash.

How did you set up your own salon?

“After only two months, my clientele grew and I was crazy busy. Knowing I had to expand, I ventured out and opened my own salon in Potts Point – which was my first official step not only as a business owner but a proud eyelash technician. Today Fancy Lash operates with myself and Daniel who strive to deliver a personalised and professional experience to each client. We absolutely love the salon and meeting new people, it was definitely a big step out of my comfort zone but I knew I needed to take a leap of faith to follow my passion. I love what I do and feel privileged I get to wake up every morning and make someone feel happier and more confident in themselves.”

What is it you love most about the industry?

“I love the feeling of seeing huge smiles on my clients’ faces, knowing I helped them feel better, happier and more confident with themselves. With everyone who sits in our chair, we take the greatest amount of pride and attention to their desired look/discussing how we can achieve their idea of a beautiful set of lashes. It is the feeling when the client first opens their eyes and looks in the mirror that makes me love what I do even more every day.”

What is the main specialty of the salon?

“I opened Fancy Lash with the dream of creating beautiful sets of lashes and becoming well equipped to tailor each set to the client’s desire and their eye shape. I love to give clients my honest opinion and advice when it comes to choosing the best shape that suits you, however as climates and trends change I am too trying to adapt to social media crazes and upcoming beauty trends. An example is the brow lamination service that we too have available. I think this is great as it allows me to break up my normal days of lash services and get my hands on something different.”

Most requested treatment?

“The most requested treatment has been the classic eyelash extension service as it gives you the look of longer yet more natural lashes without the need to use mascara. This can be great for people who don’t like to wear too much makeup as they feel it adds all that they need. However, brow lamination has also become a popular service in our salon, many commenting how they have seen the trend on social media and wanting to try it out themselves. Brow lamination gives you the fluffy brow look by enhancing and laminating your brow hairs in place, definitely a strong trend in beauty this year.”

fancy lash salon interiors
Setting the ambiance with every detail.

How have you re-imagined your business in lockdown?

“It has been really tough as we haven’t been able to operate however I am spending more time on our social media pages and keeping clients and followers updated and, in the loop,, exciting to have them back when we can re-open again. This time off has definitely made me miss being at work, even though some days are long and tiring it has made me think about how fortunate I am to love what I do.”

Which is the most important area in a salon to set the mood?

“I think as soon as you walk in you should feel a positive and good vibe. Our waiting area is cosy and very on-trend with our pink velvet armchairs.

Moving from the waiting area, our treatment rooms are candlelit with sweet and subtle scents to enhance the mood whilst soft background music puts you to ease – clients might even feel so relaxed they take a nap! (it has happened before!)”

If you had an unlimited budget what would be your splurge purchase?

“I think for me if I had an unlimited budget I would definitely look into customised versions of recliner chairs to completely elevate the look and feel of Fancy Lash.”

Kathy with influencers and media at the fancy lash launch
With media and influencers at the Fancy Lash breakfast launch earlier this year.

How often do you update the look?

“We tend to stick to the same theme of soft pink hues but aim to update the salon interior every three years to maintain the fresh and fancy feel of the space. I also love adding new florals to the waiting room to help brighten the space up a little bit. At the moment I love dried flowers, I think they not only last but look so delicate and compliment the room well. I also like to add different décor items to the shelves to switch things up.”

Are there any inexpensive tips for salon owners on how to update a salon interior?

“I think similarly to what I mentioned above, dried flowers are a great way to spice up any area. Instead of buying fresh weekly blooms, a dried arrangement can last up to months saving you money where you could be putting into something else. I think my main tip would be to hire an interior designer. This will give you access to a large selection of trade only finishing’s, fabrics and wall coverings that otherwise you’d probably do not have access to. The services and tradespeople that designers have cultivated relationships with over the years is also important and where you can also save money and time on. Fancy Lash was designed by the amazing Alexander and Co. team.”

Learn more about Fancy Lash here.

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