To say Julie Butler has achieved a lot, doesn’t give real credit to her journey. Once a former stay at home mum to three boys she is now the CEO and Founder of an International multi-million-pound business which started from her back garden over 10 years ago.
Like some other mothers, once Julie’s sons left school, she started to feel redundant. Knowing she needed to do something for herself, she enrolled on several beauty courses, one being a course in lash extensions. Her plan was to work from home on a part time basis offering beauty services for a bit of extra money. However, in a very short space of time she was working 9am-9pm 7 days a week just doing lash extensions, and it soon became her passion.
At this time eyelash extensions were in their infancy and there were not many places to be able to get supplies from and they were also very expensive. Julie couldn’t understand how these items were as much as they were, so with a good business head she decided to start researching to see if she could improve on prices. Initially she intended this to be for her own benefit. Then a local beauty school asked her if she would be interested in becoming a trainer for them. Excited by the prospect she agreed and went to college to gain a teaching certification, so she could share her knowledge and passion with others.
When training Julie would advise on where her students could purchase their supplies from and thought it would be a good idea for students to be able to take a kit away with them with everything they need to get started. And so, it began, happy with the products she’d tested she bought in enough supplies to supply starter kits to her students.
“So that was it, I’m sorted or so I thought. What I hadn’t factored in was once they’d used up the supplies in their kit, they would need to replenish their stock. After this realisation, I knew I needed to get more stock and the demand was there so what could I lose”Julie Butler
Julie knew that her decision to supply meant something had to go, and with a heavy heart she knew that this would be her clients.
“Although my clients were disappointed, they naturally understood, and I made sure that everyone was set up with a new good therapist when they left me. In fact, quite a few came for training with me and still to this day buy supplies from me. It is so nice and satisfying to see how successful they have become themselves”Julie Butler
This is when LashBase was born but like every business there have been many ups and downs along the way. When the business started 10 years ago, it was actually “Kiss Lashes”. Kiss Lashes was trading for 1 year before it hit a potentially business ending issue. Whilst still running her new business from home, Julie had a knock at the door. It was a solicitor, hand-delivering a cease and desist letter. Little did she know, Kiss Cosmetics, a US brand known for nail products, had just received a contract from Boots to stock their new strip lash range. They had applied for the trademark only 2 months before Julie. Which meant that she had no leg to stand on. She had to hand over the website, relabel or destroy the products and was not allowed to use the name Kiss Lashes anymore.
“As you can imagine, for a 1-year old new business, this was heart-breaking and very expensive. This then led to the conversation about a name change. The change in name and pivot in marketing nearly put us out of business, but luckily we recovered and learnt a very critical lesson about the importance trademarks and branding.”Julie Butler
It was in fact Julies husband Tony, was the one who created the name ‘LashBase’. Tony was a DIY enthusiast and enjoyed all things mechanical and electrical. Julie asked Tony the question, “What can I call my new business?”. Tony replied, “well what is it you will be selling?”. “Everything that a lash technician could ever need to have a career in the industry,” Julie said. And what followed is the moment that the name LashBase was first ever spoken… Tony said, “Well, I like to go to a place that stocks everything home and DIY related and it’s called HomeBase, so why not go with LashBase?”.
By success coach and entrepreneur Ryan Jackson (www.ryanjackson.org)
Fast forward to 2013, and LashBase experienced another setback. Working from her first unit and growing the business at such a fast rate the simple task of keeping everywhere clean became a lower priority than dispatching orders. This meant that LashBase required a cleaner. Julie employed a cleaner once a week whilst the business was closed. Little did she know, the cleaner had been using her time alone in our office to go through files and steal all of the contact information for the companies manufacturers and was passing them on to her daughter so that she could start her own brand. Julie was none the wiser until the daughter launched her brand 1 mile down the road with identical products. At first Julie didn’t know the link between the cleaner and this new business, so thought it was just a strange coincidence. But when she found a new manufacturer for a new product that then also ended up on the daughter’s site, she started to investigate. It came out that the cleaner was her Mother and she was the one stealing the information and passing it on. It’s safe to say that the cleaner was swiftly sacked and her daughters lash brand that opened 1 mile away with identical products did not last longer than 2 years.
“There is always a lesson to be learned and this just goes to show that running a successful lash brand is more than just the products you sell.”– Julie Butler
Today, LashBase are the most successful lash extension brand in the UK with multiple awards for product quality and customer service. What many don’t know is that they are a family business with 8 members of the Butler family on the books, plus an additional 18 staff members that are just as close as the family. Julie knows the importance of product quality which is why everything LashBase stocks has thought and hard work put into it. Julie knows where her products come from, how they are made and that they meet all beauty regulations, which gives LashBase an advantage over other brands.
“The best lesson I’ve learned from a young age is the importance to work hard and don’t expect to get things handed on a plate. If you want anything in life you must be prepared to work for it. My Dad taught me a lot, he always worked so hard to provide well for his family. I like to think this is where my work ethic has come from. If I get knocked down, I get up fighting twice as hard”.Julie Butler
After the success of launching and running LashBase Ltd for 10 years in the UK Julie’s future goal is to take the brand to the states and to succeed in America. LashBase are known in the US and have customers but Julie knows it is hard to service them properly from the UK. Knowing she needed to take a risk, LashBase Inc will launch in March from Atlanta, Georgia and Julie and her team will be working hard to make this a success.