“To build a successful business, find your niche, your particular angle. Know what sets you apart and leverage that in everything you do,” says Clementina Richardson, founder and co-owner of Envious Lashes, a specialty eyebrow and lash styling business. Clementina and her husband and co-owner, Michael Richardson, built Envious Lashes from the ground up in the competitive beauty industry.
Today, Envious Lashes is a leader in the field and Clementina is respected industry-wide as one of its most creative technicians, earning her a high-profile clientele that includes Mary J. Blige, Julia Roberts and Naomi Campbell. Clementina and Michael told Pursuit about how they built their business and how refinancing existing loans helped them weather pandemic-related challenges and reach their long-term goals.
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Before she became a celebrated lash and brow stylist, Clementina worked as a nail technician, learning the nuances of specialized beauty services. In 2007, she learned the art of lash and brow styling and put her creativity and demanding standards to work developing personalized beauty experiences for every client.
The business was officially launched in 2009 and Envious Lashes soon opened its first brick-and-mortar salon in Commack, Long Island. Before long and in response to tremendous demand, a second location was added in Manhattan.
Know when to get funding – and when to refinance
After securing multi-year leases on both locations, Clementina and Michael used savings to complete improvements and elevate the spaces to the level that Clementina envisioned.
“I wanted to create an atmosphere of luxury and pampering, something that looked as beautiful and special as I wanted my clients to feel,” says Clementina.
When the Richardsons needed funding to build out the spaces, they went with an online funder that promised a quick application, quick approval and quick funds in-hand. As they found out, the downsides were high interest rates and shorter repayment terms, which meant high monthly payments.
“Although we were paying high interest rates, we didn’t worry about it when business was running at full capacity,” says Michael. Then the pandemic hit and Envious Lashes had to close both locations, per New York State and New York City regulations. After a few months without revenue, they reopened both locations, at just 50 to 60% capacity.
Michael says, “A huge challenge right now is that many of our regular clients have headed out of the city and we’re not getting nearly the number of clients that we had pre-pandemic.”
Although they received an SBA Paycheck Protection Program loan, the funds were used quickly while both Envious Lashes locations were closed. Upon reopening, the Richardsons also faced additional safety expenses.
Turning to Pursuit for help
Facing increased costs due to the pandemic along with reduced onsite business, the Richardsons wanted to refinance the existing business debt to reduce the interest rate and improve the business’s cash flow. They turned to a long-time advisor, Walter Reid, at Farmingdale Small Business Development Center (SBDC) for advice.
“Walter didn’t hesitate to recommend Pursuit for an SBA loan to refinance our debt. He told us that Pursuit had a ton of experience working on SBA loans and that they’re very focused on helping small businesses. And it was great advice,” Michael says.
In September 2020, Envious Lashes was approved for an SBA 7(a) loan and by consolidating their previous online loans, they received a lower interest rate and better repayment terms, which had a significant impact.
“We lowered our monthly payments by about 40%,” says Michael. “That’s taking a lot of the financial pressure off the business. It means that we’ll be okay in the short term and better positioned as we continue to grow the business.” Among those plans are additional salons, including a Miami location.
“We’re adding new clients, too, which is important because once the pandemic challenges subside, we’ll have a larger client base to work with,” Clementina says. Longer term, they’ll continue to grow the business, but they’re also looking to build financial stability and prosperity by purchasing the properties for Envious Lashes locations, rather than leasing.
Talk to Pursuit about ways we can help your business
“I feel like we got really lucky finding Pursuit,” Michael says. “I tried getting funding from several banks and sometimes, small businesses just don’t qualify. Pursuit looked at us differently. We’re a small business and they want to help. They looked at our numbers, yes, but also listened to our story and understood our goals.”
To learn more about how we can help you, too, contact us today.