Sahara Lotti is the founder and CEO of Lashify, the DIY lash-extension system that elevated faux lashes to a new level.* Driven by an entrepreneurial spirit, she was an early entrant into the world of e-commerce having launched an online business in 1997. From there, Sahara also achieved success on- and off-camera as an actress and comedy screenwriter. By 2015, she grew bored with Hollywood and began a beauty thinktank. She spent two years developing its first product, Lashify. Sahara cracked the lash code and invented the Lashify system, along with the manufacturing process of making the brand’s signature Gossamer lashes, which have since been seen on countless celebrities and influencers. True to her do-it-yourself ethos, Sahara believes her role as CEO demands transparency and accessibility; she interacts daily with many of Lashify’s 150,000 customers to help them achieve their lash goals. To date, Lashify innovations have been granted more than 70 patents and 50 trademarks worldwide—and Sahara is just getting started.

Here, CEW Beauty News caught up with Sahara about how Lashify is faring during COVID-19, how she’s managing her team remotely and her new beauty incubator she created to invest $100,000 to help an aspiring Black beauty entrepreneur.

Lifting people up and advising them on business is in my DNA, so creating a beauty incubator felt like a natural next step—and an opportunity to expand. I’ve also always wanted to start a beauty incubator—brilliant minds working together for a greater cause. So I decided that I would help by investing in businesses that needed capital, but could benefit from knowledge based on my experiences. Money can solve all kinds of problems, temporarily, but knowledge on how to make money and how to make money work for you is invaluable.

I created the Lashify system because I wanted the ability to have beautiful lashes without having to drive somewhere. Our philosophy and tagline of ‘control your beauty’ has everything to do with being self-reliant. COVID-19 forced people to be self-reliant. Most clients who came to Lashify over the past few months knew about the brand already, but now had a reason to go for it. They were people who loved lash extensions, weren’t allergic to them and damage wasn’t a problem. So when they finally used Lashify and actually preferred it, it was a thrill. Innovation needs to be about significantly improving on a process and making it even better, easier and more accessible.

Other than morning health checks, day-to-day operations haven’t been too different. Instead of being in-person, we’ve been Zooming. Pretty much everyone is working from home and we’re maintaining our family culture even though we don’t see each other face-to-face every day. It’s business as usual!  We have daily morning meetings with the whole team on both coasts via Zoom, which is something we didn’t do before. Most phone calls are now video calls, as well. It’s actually been a nice change. These meetings have been integral to everyone being on the same page and keeping us organized and on track so we can do our best for our Lashify customers.

We didn’t have to cut costs during this time. We gave bonuses to everyone in our fulfillment team who was working because it was a really stressful time—we wanted them to know we were going to take care of them. The Lashify culture is very much a family culture, I believe that’s part of our success. We have a loyal team who works really hard, so regardless of trying times, cutting their paychecks will be the last option.

My best advice for navigating the new normal? Roll with it.  And utilize social media. Use this time to connect with your customers. In-person experiences translate beautifully via live tutorials and live conversations. This has been my marketing business model from Day One since I started doing them from my bedroom when we first launched the Control Kit. The ‘seeing it live’ and ‘it’s not too good to be true’ worked for us, so we just doubled down and made sure to have a constant stream of English and Spanish content to keep everyone entertained and educated. I also predict transparency in business is the wave of the future. Consumers want to know who they are spending their money with. Be prepared to introduce yourself.

Regarding fulfilling online orders, we run our own distribution center and diligently follow the city’s required guidelines at the facility. I was actually blown away with how my team implemented the changes overnight. We didn’t skip a beat.

*Last week Lashify filed suit against KISS Nails in an effort to stop the company from selling products that infringe on its patents and degrade its brand. “I want to make clear to those in the beauty industry who unlawfully infringe on the innovation and intellectual property of others that their behavior is unethical and unacceptable. Lashify will defend its patents by all means necessary,” said Sahara Lotti, CEO and Founder, Lashify. “It’s time that the beauty industry – and beauty consumers – cease to support companies that traffic in the innovation and hard work of female entrepreneurs.  We need to end the normalization of dupes.”