A few months ago, the brand Fat Ass Lashes began “liking” and commenting on my Instagram photos. In only seeing product images on their page as well as their website, I was unaware of who was behind the brand.
One day two beautiful brown women came across my timeline. I immediately commented, “Is this the first sighting of the founders?” To my pleasant surprise, in the midst of their pop-up shop at the luxury retailer Henri Bendel, I learned that Fat Ass Lashes was a black owned business. Despite the fact that neither Jacqueline Purcell nor Shanda Harper look a day over 25, both founders are flawlessly slaying their 40s.
The Jersey natives who bonded nearly two decades ago as teen moms with a dream of starting a business in the fashion and beauty industry, now have a bustling empire. In less than a year, Fat Ass Lashes made their national TV debut gracing the eyes of talk show host Wendy Williams and was featured in Nicki Minaj’s latest music video. In the midst of the latest accomplishment, opening a lash kiosk, the pair graciously made time to speak with me about the process of moving forward with their business even with the competition of an oversaturated beauty industry.
With social media literally and figuratively invoking the feeling that you have to go through life as fast as you scroll through your timeline, the major take away from speaking with Jacqueline and Shonda is to follow your dreams at your own pace and to apply patience to the pursuit of your passions.
ZD: Social media has opened the floodgates for aspiring entrepreneurs to try their hand at launching cosmetic brands. What were you not seeing either online or in-store that inspired you to move forward with creating Fat Ass Lashes?
Shanda and Jaqueline: We’ve been true lash fanatics for over 15 years but what we noticed as consumers was a lack of diversity within the lash/beauty industry. We see makeup as an art form; an incredibly personal freedom of expression, and don’t believe one’s indulgences should be gender, race or age specific. Therefore our mission was to create a lash brand that’s inclusive in acknowledging anyone who loves, appreciates and covets that special feeling you get when you add an extra oomph of glamour that makes you strut like Naomi Campbell on the catwalk!
ZD: How do you not get distracted by your competition and stay present in your lane? What made you decide that another lash brand could compete in this oversaturated market? How do you keep yourselves motivated to continue growing the business?
S&J: Competition will always exist. That’s a part of life, particularly in business. But it’s healthy because it motivates us to stay the course. We’ve also never been followers so we tend to not focus on what others are doing. We simply do what WE love which makes it effortless. To quote the late politician Bringham Young, “…Why should we worry about what others think of us, do we have more confidence in their opinions than we do our own?” Our motivation is ruled by the expressions of sheer joy and excitement we see on the faces of individuals who said they weren’t into lashes until they donned a pair of Fat Ass Lashes!
“…Once we learned to love ourselves wholeheartedly without the need for outside reassurances, it Taught us That we are MORE THAN enough and we’ve never looked back…”
ZD: I was able to create this site after realizing that I couldn’t manifest this passion project without having confidence in myself. Was there ever a point where you were insecure about your complexion or your beauty and how did your life change when you became more confident/self-assured?
S&J: We both faced challenges with insecurities growing up, but these issues were created based on others idea or interpretation of beauty. As young mocha-cocoa women, there were very few portrayals of beauty that mirrored us. And while it seemed to be a disservice to our development at the time, we now see it as a blessing in disguise because it compelled us to develop a sisterhood/support system wherein we would encourage one another to recognize, celebrate and love the beauty of the skin we’re in! Once we learned to love ourselves wholeheartedly without the need for outside reassurances, it became a driving life force in terms of teaching us, we are more than enough and we’ve never looked back.
ZD: I read on one of your Instagram posts that Shanda recently turned 45-years-old? HOW SWAY? I’ll be turning 27 soon and admittedly because of social media, I often feel as if I’m behind in life, like I’m never doing enough. Can you share where you were in your life personally and professionally when you were in your mid-20s and what’s changed and improved as you’ve matured?
S&J: That post is going on three years old! If you take care of your body on the inside, it’ll return the favor and take care of you on the outside. When we were in our mid-twenties we were single mothers which meant we had to grow up pretty quickly. That being said, we were intensely focused on navigating parenthood, educating ourselves and developing careers that would allow us to live well, all while figuring out the “adulthood” thing (still figuring that out!) These were indeed some challenging times but Lawd knows these experiences helped shape us to become the fierce warriors we are today.
A lot has changed since our twenties; we have a broader perspective and are no longer rushing through life. We take time to appreciate the simple things because we understand the sentiment, “…You only live once, but if you do it right, once is enough.” And then there’s our access to life’s little luxuries like Chanel, Celine, Gucci and Prada because we’ve worked hard for every reward.
Our advice for young women in their twenties might sound cliché but always remember life is a journey, not a destination. Everything will happen for you when it’s supposed to and not a moment sooner. Be productive and if you fall down, get right back up, keep moving and try again. Know that you’re amazing and there’s no one like you!