2013 Enterprising Women: Sophia Navarro
Owner, The Lash Company in Houston, Texas
When eyelash extension training first became available in the U.S., former makeup artist Sophia Navarro become one of the first industry professionals to realize the innovation would have a major impact on the future of beauty. Within weeks of applying her first set of lashes, she developed a regular clientele that grew to more than 200 loyal clients in less that a year. By 2005, Navarro was seeing nine clients a day and traveling globally to apply lashes to celebrities, such as Beyonce Knowles. Soon after, she broke ground on the what would become the largest lash salon, The Lash Company, in Houston, Texas. Navarro continues to dedicate her life to learning, improving, innovating and teaching the art of eyelash extensions, and is credited with what is now known as The NovaLash Technique, as well as several tools and techniques.
From where does your entrepreneurial drive originate?
As a girl I always had a lot of ideas, and I believe that the best way to develop those ideas is to be your own boss.
As you grew your company/brand, what “ah-ha” moments of clarity helped you shape its future course?
For me, that moment occurred when I was a make-up artist and had only recently started doing lash extensions. As I rapidly built a clientele, I realized there was huge potential in the lash extension industry.
As you shaped your company, what have been some of the biggest stumbling blocks?
Since the Lash Company was one of the first businesses in the country to specialize in lash extensions, we have always had to focus on educating the consumer about our product. Similarly, most beauty schools spend little or no time teaching lash extensions so when we hire new employees we have to train them ourselves.
How would you describe your management style? What do you think makes you a good leader, and in what areas would you to improve?
I try to keep my employees motivated, and encourage them to come to me with any issues. In the future I would like to have more scheduled one-on-one meetings with my employees.
How do you set goals for yourself? For example, do you prefer more small accomplishable goals or fewer large goals? How do you hold yourself accountable?
I prefer daily goals. In a small business, every little detail can matter, and if I spend too much time looking at the big picture, the little details get lost and clients notice that. Client feedback is the best way to judge my performance.
Throughout your professional history, what’s the best lesson you’ve learned after making a mistake?
I believe doing something I really am not enthusiastic about causes most of my mistakes. I try to focus on areas I really care about, knowing that I will continue to work on it until I get it right .For those other areas I get help from people I know I can depend on to also get it right.
From whom or what do you draw your strength, courage, vision?
My family—especially my mother—and my friends.
What’s the number-one quality you look for when hiring employees, and how do you evaluate if they possess that trait?
I am most concerned about how well our extensionists apply the lashes, so I conduct an initial working interview and then closely monitor a new employee’s training to see if they have the potential to meet my expectations. There are a lot of things that can prevent me from hiring someone, but they must be able to perform high-quality work.
What’s the best thing an employee/colleague ever said about you?
I still keep a regular clientele and can thus relate to the issues my employees face. My employees tell me they like the fact that I still get my hands dirty.
If you were training another woman to take over your job, what’s the most important advice you would offer her?
Continue to focus on quality.
If you were to look at scrapbook of your professional career, what would be your favorite page? Which page would you like to remove?
My favorite page would be the day the Lash Company opened. I would not remove anything, because I want to remember, and learn from, the things that did not go well.
If someone were to write a book about your life, what would be an appropriate title?
Right now, the title would be Unfinished.
If you weren’t in the beauty industry, what would you be doing?
I enjoy working with people, so it would be something outgoing. It would not be a desk job.
How would you like to spend your retirement?
I would enjoy more time with my family.