Legally Long

Artemes founder Jackie Lee (left).

Business entrepreneur Jackie Lee launched her company after searching for the ultimate lashes. She shares her journey from lawyer to lash queen.

Tell us how you went from being a lawyer to setting up Artémes Lashes in 2015?
“After years of having semi-permanent lash extensions my own lashes started falling out. As an alternative, I began using faux lashes but was really underwhelmed by the poor quality products on the market and the fact that they only lasted two wears before they needed to be binned. I decided to research and source my own high-quality materials and Artémes Lashes was born. All of our lashes are created using the finest responsibly sourced mink hairs (they’re collected during their natural shedding cycles so there’s absolutely no unnatural handling or harming of them) and skilled artisans spend up to three days meticulously handcrafting each pair to preserve the original softness, quality and durability. As a result, they last up to 20 wears, which is quite remarkable.”

What prompted your career sea change?
“Family! After having children my priorities changed and I wasn’t able to commit to a full-time career in law, where the hours are typically very long. I find that while Artémes Lashes is expanding rapidly, I’m able to be more present for my kids than I was in my previous career. Like every mother, finding balance in my life is a never-ending struggle.”

You started off your business in a spare bedroom – tell us the steps to your beauty success.
“I was very focused when researching and sourcing the materials for Artémes Lashes because I was essentially creating them with my own needs in mind. My aim was to master the perfect mix of luxurious, voluminous faux lashes that are as comfy as they are glamorous. There are plenty of synthetic lashes on the market that don’t look natural and are stiff and difficult to apply. Whereas our silk range of lashes are created by using an exclusive multi-dimensional layering technique, meaning they look (and feel) like real lashes.”

In a crowded beauty market – how did you go about making your brand different?
“For me, it was all about creating a truly premium, luxurious product that was also really easy to use and comfortable. Faux lashes have transitioned from something you’d only wear on special occasions to an everyday accessory. Artémes Lashes provides women with multi-wear, high-quality lashes that make them feel beautiful and empowered and it’s something that I’m really proud of.”

What’s the secret to getting your lashes into some of best makeup kits around the world?
“It was word of mouth. Makeup artists are always flooded with new products, so it was amazing to see so many of them pick Artémes Lashes as their go-to lash option for celebrity red carpet events and photoshoots. They recommended our lashes to their clients who shared them with other celebrities and makeup artists and it spread organically from there.”

Celebrity devotees include Rihanna, Rita Ora and Kourtney Kardashian – how did you attract such a celebrity following?
“It all started with celebrity makeup artists raving about our products and using them on their celebrity clients. Once those celebrities had experienced the difference of our lashes they were hooked and we regularly get A-listers requesting them.”

Given your celebrity status how important is it for you to have a social media presence?
“Social media is becoming increasingly relevant for the beauty industry. For Artémes Lashes, it’s another touchpoint for us to communicate our brand’s personality and allow followers to experience our products. Best of all, social media has allowed us to forge a strong direct connection with our followers so that we’re constantly across what they need.”

Can you tell us the number of salons you are stocked in?
“Currently Artémes Lashes can be purchased at Sephora online as well as some boutique salons across Australia. We’re now at a stage where we’re ready to work with more stockists.”

What is your proudest achievement with the brand?
“Seeing Artémes Lashes being fluttered on the eyes of celebrities like Rihanna, Elle Macpherson and Miranda Kerr has been a real highlight, but I get equally thrilled when I see everyday women looking incredible in our lashes.”

What do you wish you had have known prior to launching?
“Being a lawyer prior to starting my brand meant that I knew nothing about the beauty industry so it’s been a steep learning curve. However, the upside is that we’ve made great connections and have found it to be a really supportive industry.”

Best business motto to live by?
“I think the L’Oreal Paris slogan ‘Because you’re worth it’ really transcends to all aspects of business and beauty. Lots of brands get started and then are put on the sidelines because life gets in the way. Embrace what you’re passionate about.”

Business lessons I learnt:
Find a problem and solve it: By fixing my own problem of not being able to source luxury, comfortable faux lashes, I solved a beauty issue many women face.
Just do it: No ifs, buts or maybes – if you’re passionate about a business idea, start now.
Focus on creating a high-quality product above all else. Social media and word of mouth marketing is the biggest driver of business in the beauty industry, so an amazing product can only succeed.
Stand out amongst your competitors. Know your brand’s point of difference and share it with the world.
Be agile: In business you need to expect the unexpected. Learn to pivot and react to changes quickly.

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