How Sahara Lotti of LASHIFY built her empire through innovating in the lash industry
Sahara Lotti is the total badass inventor and founder behind the award winning DIY lash extensions company, Lashify.
And when I say that this is a must-listen episode - I truly mean it. It’s real and it’s raw and Sahara shares so much of her journey and the challenges she’s faced along the way; if there’s only one podcast you listen to this week - please make it this one.
We talk about the absolute importance of patents and the ins and outs of how people can screw you over in any industry, how she actually found her manufacturer. (Spoiler alert: it involves karaoke and Celine Dion hits), the controversy that surrounded her brand in the early days that almost ended in a cancel culture moment (not ok) and the effects that had on her life and her mental health and investing $100,000 into a black-owned hair care brand. Plus so many incredible pieces of actual gold. Actual gold!!
These are the learnings of a woman who has a clear mission and isn’t afraid to chase her dreams. Full disclaimer: the audio quality is questionable, but hey...tech can be a nightmare sometimes and this episode is more than worth it. Your ears need this. Trust me.
Please note, this transcript has been copy pasted without the lovely touch of a human editor. Please expect some typos!
I want to start by learning more about your origin story and what got you started with Lashify to begin with.
Oh, gosh, you know, I was I was in the movie business and I was always sort of like a jack of all trades, I wasn't satisfied with just one thing. So my mind needed a lot of stimulation in order to be satisfied. So I was constantly a person that was solving things like problems. So in movie, in screenwriting, that's really what you're doing, is you're creating a new world and everything has to make sense. Every word that the character is saying has to match their personality and it all has to be fluid and in line and it has to make sense, very logical. And so what I found was that that way of thinking is the way that products are invented as well. They have to have a follow through. And so I basically just took my problem solving mine and I was really obsessed on why I could not get these regulations on. I wanted to get the logic that I'm an obsessive personality, like I'm that person. Like if a word doesn't come to your tongue and you're like, what was that word? What was that word? And then you just you can't think straight until you find that word. I'm that person. So when it came to lashes, I was like, where is this last thing that I just it's like I take it and I stick it underneath. And then I and then I have this tweezer and it feels it down. And I was looking for it like literally Googling the under and it didn't exist. And so when you're so when you so vividly can see something but it doesn't exist, it's your job to bring it to fruition. Does that makes sense. You kind of have to.
Yeah. Yeah. Yeah.
And so were you like, OK, I'm going to like leave my current career and start a business with the vision of what it's become today or be like, oh, I'm just going to start a little side.
I'll be completely honest with you. I was a screenwriter. I also did like I did some consulting, like intuitive strategy where I would I was really good at figuring out, like what people's talents were and how to get them there. I never, ever did anything to make money. I was an artist. I did it. Of course, I wanted to make money, but my focus was never I need to make tons of money. So I got really involved with, like animal feeling and and natural medicine and for animals. And I found that that was the number one way to heal these animals was to use natural medicine. But I also found that there was no money for research and it bothered me. So I was like, wow, I just saved my dog's life because I use this natural thing. Well, the thing that the doctor gave you made him more sick, but the natural thing just saved his life. But the doctor refuses to give other dogs the natural thing because there's no research. So I was like, well, where do we get the research from? And they're like, oh, research has millions and millions of dollars. I'm like, well, why are you doing research on turmeric? And they're like, well, there's no there's no king of turmeric who's going to fund it. So I was like, oh, so you need billions of dollars.
Oh. So in my mind I started thinking differently. And then I was like, wow, I, I need more money. Like I don't need money, like, you know, have a cool apartment or house or a Chanel bag. I need money like real money. How do you get that. Because my mind wasn't thinking that way before. I wasn't trying to become a millionaire, I didn't need a million dollars and that makes sense. So then when I changed my way of thinking and I was like, I want to make a change in order to make these changes, I need money, OK? I'm going to have to create a business that is like that is very lucrative. So I thought about it and then I was like you. And then I'm like, that idea I should go forward with the idea because I'm obsessed with it. So I began to strategize how I would basically create this market, create this product and basically own a space that would it would be a revenue model that would allow me to do what I wanted. So that's my intention to blow it up was very clear. It wasn't about like who? I have an idea. I don't really know what I'm doing. Maybe I'll see. It wasn't like that. It was like you don't grow that successful that quickly without knowing what you know what I'm saying.
Without yes. You wanted to dominate. You wanted to, like, conquer.
Absolutely. No. You had the vision. No question. It was not a coincidence.
I didn't just come in and be like, hey, look what I got. I was like, that is day to day, OK, you know what I mean?
China, before I even have a patent in the US because I knew exactly I knew what was going to happen if I didn't protect myself because I watched it happen to other female entrepreneurs in space. So yeah.
And I read you've got like 70 patents now all around the world or something that I was like, gosh, I didn't even know that you could have that.
Well, because what happens is you get for every patent that you get in the United States, let's say there's the manufacturing patent, then there's a method patent, then there's the system patent, you know what I mean? Then there's like the patent for the law and the patent for the cartridge, the patent for all of them that work together. So you really have to go in. Otherwise they'll try to get around your patent.
So I didn't know that. Oh, yeah.
Do you have to pay every time for all those different little patents every year and every time the patent system is it's incredible because it inspires innovation. It's terrible because it inspires manipulation and getting around it. So a lot of these companies, all they know is getting around your patents. They don't know how to market. They don't know how to, like, connect with their people, but they know how to get around your patent. So, you know, a patent doesn't mean anything unless you're willing to defend that part.
Yeah, yeah. You've got the funds to back it up.
Yes. No, basically, it's like you can spend fifty thousand on a time, but unless you have five million dollars to take them down, then your partner doesn't mean anything you don't have.
You had to do that. Oh yeah. Oh. Oh yes.
Where you want to tell me about that. You want to tell me a little bit about what's up in life.
Yeah. And so I am basically when you're in this level of the business was a very murchison's. It was like it was like a very hush hush business that a few companies have been dominating for over 50 years or something like that, no innovation, nothing. This same strip loss that they were selling you in 1964 is what they were selling you in 2020. All right. Sounds like Tampa, right? Because guess what? The person that's making and designing the tampon is what men. So literally a person that was creating these work, they weren't using them. So, yeah, they're they're pretty lashes that usually take on your eyelid. You have to have like an NBA on sticking it on. Is that difficult? You know what I mean? It's like it wasn't a product that was easy to use. And I and then I started thinking about it and I was like, this makes no sense. I just felt like a self-driving car or something. And I can't get my feet, you know what I mean? We can get a guy in the moon. You and I are fighting like Jesse's style, but we can't put on our own lashes. So I really realized there was a very specific reason for that. And it's because why fix it if it ain't broke? Right. Got it. So I was like, OK, yeah. No, no, no, no. I want to be able to actually make lashes look like what I get in the last sentence long. So I invented a movie that mimics the growth pattern of your eyelash and I created a lash. I needed to call it something because it didn't have a name.
So I named the Gossamer Lash and I created a manufacturing process that would make this glass so thin and light that it would connect to your underly. And it was really revolutionary, like revolutionary, because most of the most incredible ideas are right in front of your face. They're so close that you can't see them. And so I got a provisional patent on it in 2016 and I didn't talk to anybody about it like nobody. So finally, when I started talking about it to the factories in 2017, next thing you know, you see pictures of my idea on their website. And I was like, why is my oh, because they want to have it prepared so that if I apply for a patent, they can go, no, no, no. There's prior art work with they didn't know is that I had a year before I even told them, you know what I mean? Because what they do is they say, OK, the big companies and the factories in Asia are in. Indeed, most of the time they're sharing information. So they're like, this is coming out. We better get it into the public and make it public so they don't own the market, you know? So if you look at what happens, if you look at what happened to the magnetic lashes. I mean, she came in, she got patents on it, the patents were pending, a law gave her an award. It was incredible. Next thing you know, there's a huge article and it's like supermarket giant so-and-so is reading the magnetic lash to the supermarket.
And it was like.
Meanwhile, they forgot to say that it was totally infringing on someone else's patent, like they change the narrative, you know what I mean? And so I saw what happened and I was like, wait, the girl that invented that way? And then I was like, wait, is that her pushing these ads? And then I'm like, oh, my God, it's not. And I realized, like, they just literally took oh, God, it's so easy.
I know. And I watched it and I was like, well, and I was literally taking notes. And I'm like, OK. That's what I really started by putting pieces together and I started seeing a pattern. I started seeing a pattern that was happening all the time.
Yeah, with innovation. And then I realized, well, that's why no one's innovating anything, because I just spent five million dollars or something on getting patents and nobody gives a shit. Do you know what I'd say? Yes. So I definitely came in with a strategy of defense. I'm in a cornetist. I brought in someone, for example, when I first started, I brought in Dean Factor in Dean Factors, founder and CEO of Matchbox Cosmetics, and he was my friend. So I brought Dean in and Dean was like, well, I'll give you all this money if you give me this much of your company. And I was like, yeah, no, I'm not going to do that. I was like, I don't need your money. This is my dad's advice. I don't need your money. I said, I'm just going to give you a percentage and you're going to consult for me. OK. So basically I was like, I'm gonna bring this guy in like he's here. And, you know, it was kind of sad I had to do that because nobody would take me alone seriously because I was a chick, you know what I needed. So it was just a woman, as you know. But if I had factor from Smashburger, you know, then it's like, oh, he's there. You know what I mean?
Yeah. Yeah, Fitial.
So I brought him in protective to sort of because, you know, because I knew that they would try to take it and and that's what they do. That's just the business. So now in a few months, you're going to be hearing a lot about that. OK, I'm going to I'm going to stay because I think it's really important that as innovators, we're using these products every single day. You know, I had a complex about not having lashes. When I put lashes on, I woke up and I felt I went from feeling gross to feeling incredible. And so I had massive incentive to create a product that fulfilled my needs. And it had nothing to do with money, if that makes sense. But then I realized that in that can make a ton of money. But the love of the innovation of it wasn't like, oh my God, I'm going to make so much money. Once I figure out it wasn't like that. It was like so the money comes with I think the intention has to be a good one.
Yeah, you had the vision of what else you wanted to create in the world in addition to that and and why you needed the money. Exactly.
I want to go back to back to the beginning and learn kind of what the process was when you were just in that initial phase of being like, OK, well, I need to raise money to start this business. What do you do? What's the process? What happened in those early days?
I wasn't thinking about raising money because I was just trying to figure out how do I make this one tool? So I had an idea that if I had this tweezer that wrapped around my eye like this, like I it's just it's the shape of my eye I could get the extensions on. I was like, yeah, so look at this like and then I'll go like that really quickly and then I can get the single lashes on without the technician, you know, like I was like I was amazed.
Did you make some weird prototypes yourself.
So I was melting jewelry because I told you I'm the chick that I become obsessed with things and become like the master of it. So I taught myself like a year previous goals. Right. So I was like, I can build my own one. And so so I took some wire and like, I twisted it up and I kind of got the form. I'm like, yeah, it's like a wire. And then it goes like this. So that was my first step. Then it was, OK, how do I get this one made? And after, like, mad research, I realized that you need something called a CAD designer. OK, once I figured out what a CAD designer was, my life changed. OK, cad computer automated something design basically. What's in your head. They put on the computer. That was the thing. So if I'm like, hey, I want to make a cartridge that looks like an eye. That person once I found the guy designers all day, I was like, OK, not wearing them. I get it now we're on track. So I figure I saw I had a cad made of the wand and then I started doing all this research on like adhesives and how do I find it? He said. And I called some factories in L.A. and they thought we were crazy. And so we did for when day we, you know, imagine it was like, hey, I want to make a T-shirt. And they're like, Hi, this is three AM person department you're looking for.
Yeah, we're just trying to make excuses for like I thought it was really it was kind of a joke you like, how do you make glue?
And it was really funny. So I had brought my friend in because I was the kind I was like, OK, you guys, I'm going to create a factory like Andy Warhol and then I'm going to have five beauty ideas and this is going to be one of them. Laci is going to be one of my genius ideas. And then I'm going to have this and this and this. And then I thought that was how it's going to be, but that's not how it was. Instead, it's like all my everything went into classified.
So I brought in friends, realized that they really didn't know what they were doing either.
So it's a really bad idea to ever bring your friends do not get in business with your friends.
Noticed we can get more to that later. But anyway. But and then I just did a lot of Googling and then I was looking for an adhesive manufacturer and I came across a manufacturer in Korea that said something about adhesive. Then I started doing research on him. It turns out they owned glass factories. So then I contacted their agent and I went to the agent's office and I said, here's my idea. And the guy was like, wait, say that again. And I said, it's like this. And then it's like this. And then it's like this that he put on your eye. And he was like, oh, OK. And he later told me that when I came in that he looked at me and he was like, this is either insane or completely genius. He's like, I'm not sure, you know. And so then he was like, this one factory. I know the person that might be able to help you. If there's anyone that can do it, it's this guy. So he starts like selling me to this Korean manufacturer and the Korean manufacturers, like, yeah, whatever, whatever. Then he comes in town, the Korean manufacturer and him and I meet in the office and it was like, boom, he got it. Oh my. He was like it was literally I said, look, I want to make this. It looks like, you know, and it's like and it goes under like literally his mouth dropped open because he got what I would say. He was like, oh my God. And so then we formed a friendship. And with Koreans, a lot of the friendship forming has to do with getting really drunk in karaoke. I'm not even OK. I don't drink. And literally I got wasted in in the name of laughter. But OK, I say Celine Dion. I don't even like the music, but I sang it. I sang Guns and Roses, you name it.
What did he say. What Gangnam Style. That that sets it up. Like I say, so much karaoke with these guys to get this product made. You have no idea.
Oh my gosh, that's too funny. I mean, who doesn't love karaoke, though? I love karaoke.
It was a meeting of the minds. Basically, it's a little bit of a song and dance when you get into the factories because you're basically having to sell them on believing in you. So remember, this is a factory. Their biggest deal is with L'Oreal, you know what I'm saying?
Like, yeah, they need to take a bet on you basically to be like, is this chick for real? Does she have the money to produce orders?
Right. So it was a lot of money coming in and like kind of like swinging my, you know, like a gentleman. And I'd be like, please let me take you to dinner. Like, literally, I've got like 30 grand in the bank, but I'm spending like five grand on a dinner. I'm like, come have lobster drink. You literally I was channeling my dad.
Ok, you were schmoozing that. You're a schmoozer. I love it.
Literally, they all got so wasted drunk I convinced them to do you know what I mean? Great, great. Great, great by that. Great. And that's a lot of what I did a lot.
It's really such an incredible story because people are like, where did you learn to do that? And I'm like, listen, my father's Middle Eastern. I remember like him constantly wining and dining and like, no, no, no. I get the check. I pay for it, you know what I mean? It was like, what if what's it called fake it till you make it now.
Yeah. And like doing the dance. Oh yeah. You've seen it in action and you're like, I've got to do this totally with caviar.
Let's turn this off. Oh my God. It sounds really fun though.
Literally, I'd never even had a real job at that point. The only thing I'd ever done. OK, so I was like, oh yes, I can do this. And what really I'm going to tell you something interesting. The creation of Lausch about it was between me and Sean, like that's his name or mine. But you really just for him, it was really exciting to work with someone that actually was bringing that innovation to the table, you know what I mean? Because the way the factories work is they'll be like, hello? And then they come in, they show you all their stuff. They'll be like, look, we have this new growth serum and then we have this liner and this liners like this brown thing. And then, you know, so-and-so sells it and so-and-so sells it. So you're like, oh, everybody selling the same thing, you know what I mean? They're coming with the innovation. But in this case, I was coming with the innovation. They were like, whoa. And so, you know, at one point I remember saying to him, listen, thank you so much for believing in me.
And he actually said he said it in front of his whole office. He goes, I have to tell you, he's like, you've actually inspired us. He's like you. The excitement that you have has fueled some life into us as well. And it was true. I went back like six months into every idea that I had. So they're like, you know, they, like, started innovating all of it. So he and I together created by meaning I would have the idea and then he would understand the engineering components that I was, because I found that if I could see it in my mind, if I could see it clicking, then then it could work from an engineering perspective. If I couldn't see it, then it wouldn't work. So he really, really he was just as involved as I was. And then we had to convince his boss to basically give me room in the factory in the last factory, because the last factory had been doing business with the same old, same old for a long time, but the same old, same old wasn't loyal.
Ok, and how do you convince someone? Is it through money or do you have to give him equity or the company equity in your business?
I had to actually go to Korea, meet with the owner. Now you have to remember something we're dealing with very a very, very different culture. Men dominate, absolutely dominate, and especially in Korea, like it's not like the boss dishes are growing. You know what I mean? It's not like that. So the last marketplace was dominated in the Asian market. The Asian market own the last marketplace. But I was coming in with a new innovation and a new pattern. And I was like, listen. So I went I met I actually met with the owner, which is really funny because, you know, older, like the 60s and very serious and only six Korean. And so Sean would have to translate this is what she's saying and did it. And I was basically like, I am going to create a new market. It's my market. I said, what I can tell you is that I will be loyal. I said, I don't fuck around. I'm like, if you do this for me, I will own this marketplace. I was like, unlike them, I'm not going to take it to the other country. And then Sean does. He said that he. Think, and so you walk, he walks like three feet away. This is really funny and he looks and he looks down like this. And I'm like, what is he doing there?
Like he's thinking and I'm like, oh, OK.
So anyway, he turns to Sean and he says something and Sean says he says, you're very smart.
And I said, I'm smarter than I look. And then we got drunk. And then he said, yes, you know what comes next?
And I know what to do here. This is not my first rodeo.
We had Korean sushi, which was the best thing I ever had. Again, everybody drink beer like every I'm telling you, it's like literally they are the party animals of Asia, like you have to keep up. And then we had a celebration and then he agreed to give me more of their capacity. So when you're dealing with factors, you're dealing with capacity. So basically, it is in their interest that every single day they have production. Right. So for, let's say, five days this week, they're filling, I don't know, Shanelle lip liner or for six days. So they have to come in and give you that room. And so he agreed. He said he would expand the supply chain. And by doing that, it was a lot more difficult because remember, we've been making sacrifices for years and years. There's a billion people that know how to make strip washes. I invented a new process of making this. So in order to make it, we had to train people. That's why it took so long for the copycats to copy me because they didn't know how to make it. And the beauty of it is, is all the copycats have copies me or they're like, no, no, no, no, no. We're making it differently. We're not making it the way that you made it. No, no, no. We're making it different. Really? Yeah. It's a trade secret. The beauty of it is, is because I invented the product. I know what you had to do to make it do that. And there's only one way around it and it's in my back. Hergé And so it was just a very different dynamic. So basically, he agreed to start hiring all these hiring and expanding the budget. So we had to go from like a hundred thousand a month to five hundred thousand fifty thousand one hundred. It's really hard to make these days. So if we only had, you know, like like these things to make them, you have to be totally skilled. So now we have we've expanded the supply chain to thousands of people that know how to make them, but they start.
Well, I just feel like it's all a really quick turnaround, because if that's happening in twenty seventeen, we're only like kind of halfway through twenty twenty and like it just seems like it's just such a huge thing that you had to get everyone on top of.
Yeah. So weird because it felt like five hundred years. But when I tell you it is all I thought about for two years. Me explain. I ran a stoplight. I guess I was so busy that I didn't pay the ticket. I got a warrant for not showing up like I had like 15 parking tickets that were now a thousand dollars each. Like literally I stepped out of life. I can't really even explain it. I was absolutely obsessed. All I was doing, like figuring out the cartridge was probably the most. Because if you look at our classified cartridge, it's segments of your eye and it's like it's created. We had to create a pressure on the cartridge that would allow the lashes to be placed underneath.
And like I was constantly in like inventor mode where I couldn't function on a normal level, like I couldn't pay a bill. It was really weird. And so that's the reason I was able to get it done that quickly, essentially, because it's all I did. I really went into a vortex. So by the time I came out of it and I was ready to market the company, I was like almost like somebody that was like in a coma for a while. And they came out there like, wow, people have cell cellphones out. Like, that's what it felt like. Like I got on the Internet. I'm like, wow, what's going on here? A lot of drama know like, dear friends, I'm back.
I can talk to you now.
And so in that early day, in those early days, because obviously creating the product is one thing, it's really hard. You have to invent something. But then like marketing a product and finding those customers and educating customers and convincing them that your products, what they should buy and they should ditch strip washes, for example.
What was that early phase of launch like and how did you find the first people, the first customers, your tribe?
Well, the first customers were my dog, Bob, who inspired a lot of that. She's a bulldog and she had a big Instagram following. And so I had like writer's block for a while when I was screenwriting. And I found that the creative character had actually gotten me out of my writer's block. And I knew how to create heat on social media, if that makes sense. It's kind of like a gift you either have and you know what I mean.
Yeah, you need people to react.
Right? So I'm generally a really good marketer that comes naturally. I've always been really Internet savvy, like since we're talking like that. I started using a computer when Monica Lewinsky and Miss and President Clinton had that thing. That's when I started using computers. So that's a long time ago. So I'm kind of a nerd. You would never know it. But I'm really into technology.
And all of my life, every time I would buy something, it would eventually become trendy.
So like in high school, I was like wearing clogs and people made fun of me. And then like a month later, like, everyone's wearing clogs, you know? So I was I knew that I was a little bit of a pacemaker. I would I would kind of put it out there and would classify.
I so I learned a lot about my business because when I was screenwriting, I had to find a way to supplement my income. Right. And I would buy and sell things. And I always found that whenever the product was something I bought for myself and thought I really wanted, I would sell it for a lot of money because I would, at a certain discretion, a certain picky. So I made last night for myself, like, I am super picky about something as small as like a fiber content, like on sheet, like it's like the toilet paper. Is it like the right that I'm like. Get that away from me, you know, on that person. So I took that sort of enormous into creating this product that I knew. I had no question that as soon as my people and by I mean my people, I mean the last lovers in the people like me, as soon as they got their hands on this thing, it was going to blow their minds.
Like I had no question I would have that in my right, in my left arm. Why? Because I am her. OK, so I knew that any time I thought something was hot, damn it was blowing up. So I was like, well, I have this insight into this. I am positive that when this hits the market, people will lose their minds. I am positive, but this is what the biggest issue was. So I create this incredible video. I know that, I know that it's the video is the right angle. You're going to see it. You're going to want to fight and people will. And I started pushing the video out on Instagram myself because I didn't hire like an agency. I just I was like I would make it myself. Anything that I could do myself. I paid. I did myself, by the way, I didn't outsource. Next thing you know, I started pushing the ads out and people started saying, oh, my God, wow, look at this. And then next thing you know, it's a scam. There's no way that's real. Just a systemic Afghanistan's. Next thing you know, every message is like it's a scam. And I was like, oh, no, it's not. And you I'm so new. I'm so greedy that I'm getting mad at people.
Like, I know you're like, I'm going to give you some sass back and I'm going to tell you what why?
I've have no idea that that's wrong. OK, so I'm like and people are like, oh, you're so unprofessional. And I'm like, what are you, an unprofessional put me and my bedroom in my bed like, you're ripping on my product.
I'm in my bed, you know, like I'm not like I need to defend myself.
I was really getting, like, offended.
So I'm like, but I'm going to go online. I'm just going to go live. And that's that's what happened is I started going live and literally at the time we signed up on Shopify and the sound was on. So I'm on live and I'm showing it right.
And all of a sudden it's like ding, ding, ding, ding. Love that sound. I'm like, it's like ding, ding.
So I'm hearing the ding, right? So it's no different than like put another quarter in the jackpot. So I'm like, I'm alive again, everybody. I literally live like seven times a day, OK, because this is my livelihood here and yep.
You're like, well, someone's going to be away somewhere so like I should go again.
And so then it allowed you to keep it on for twenty four hours. So once people saw me and they were like, she's not walking like that's real. That's what started my business being me.
So I went on to accomplish like I had just come from the doctor. I realized that like I can never be perfect enough, you'll always find some way to rip on me. So I just had to sort of let it go and be like, you know what, I am who I like about me. So do what I'm here. I'm selling my body. I can't be scared of the camera, you know?
Yeah. One hundred percent. And you're a badass while you're doing it. And that was our marketing thing.
And you still do that today. I was watching your your TV's and I was like, this is awesome. And it makes it really like it's approachable. It's relatable because you're like, oh yeah. That's actually how girls look when they're doing this kind of thing. It doesn't look polished and stuff.
I decided that, you see, I didn't have an MBA. I went to school. I was I had a minor in theater, a theater, a master in cinema. I was always very like street smart. But the one thing that I really knew how to do is I really knew how to shop. I really knew how to buy things, and I really knew what the customer wanted. I was the I was the customer. So what I did was I created a company that appealed to all of the things that appealed to me, a sense of community, a sense of trusting, the sense of I know who, I know who I know who you are. I know who I'm giving my money to. A sense of I love luxurious packaging.
I like it to make me feel some kind of way.
I like loyalty. I like loyalty programs. I want points for everything I do. You know what I mean? It makes you give me free shipping. I'll buy everything. So every. I did with Arabized, that's how I just because, like I said, I didn't know anything else other than what I wanted.
You just use your own human behavior, right.
And so what I found was that what made me happy is the way to run a company. And so it's funny because my my obsession is truly with my customers.
Like, I am always looking out for the customer. And then it's almost like my staff has to, like, be the moderator between me one, you know what I mean? Like, OK, sorry, but we can't do it. It's not like, OK, you guys, how are we going to figure out how can these people not like that? You know, I'm the kind of person that like if you do something for me or you're there for me or you support me, I am loyal to a fault, you know. So like, I have so much appreciation for these people that have supported me, et cetera, that I just keep wanting to do right by them, if that makes sense. That's really my business model.
How many how many customers do you have now worldwide?
I'd say probably a few hundred thousand. And then yeah, yeah, we sold a lot of control.
Get that is just so incredible. So, so cool. And also just in such a short period of time, I really just I know I've said this before, but I just feel like it's really quick. Like you've grown this huge brand. I mean, obviously for you it probably feels like a little longer.
But well, remember, I also didn't have a choice because I knew that I had created I knew that I had invented something revolutionary and I knew that they whoever they were, would try to take it from me unless I pushed it out and created the narrative first.
My product, my invention, my made by me, you're not going to take it, like I said, I was watching what they did with other companies and it freaked me out. So I was like, OK, I'm going to come in really aggressively and I am going to I am going to basically take the market on the market, the leader of the market. So by the time the other guys came in, so like, you know, we got knocked off by a really, really big company. And the really, really big company assumes because they've never had this experience before, they assumed they were going to come in and they were going to be like, hey, look what we just invented. And they came in and all of a sudden they got like gnarly backlash from classifieds. They were like, well, they had to, like, turn off their comments because they like our customers are like, what do you think you're doing? This is Lasha by your speed. And they were like, because I had already taken the market, people knew who we were. We won multiple awards. You weren't going to come in and swoop in and pretend like you invented some shit because you didn't. You know, when I saw how cocky and arrogant they were, I started looking deeper into it and I realized that this was a pattern. If this had not happened one time, not two times, not three times, not five times, this was what they did. This is a strategy. Single time a female entrepreneur came into the marketplace, they would start watching her. They would start they would send that Chinese factories to start copying the product, to then infiltrate the marketplace with knockoffs so nobody would know who the inventor was.
Ok, and so what happened is there's only two innovations in the last hundred years for the last market that have come to market, the magnetic Lasch and Lasha by both the magnetic drive. They fact that in two seconds. So by the time that her see what happens is your patent, your patent is pending all companies. Once your patent is published, they are well aware that you have a patent coming. OK, once they start making it, they're infringing. You just can't sue them. But what they do is they come in, they start infringing, then they take your market so that by the time your patent has issued, you don't have any money left because they you just went from making 15 million a year to two, you know.
So to clarify, to stop that, you have to process your patent and get that one hundred percent locked in before you start that phase of, like manufacturing.
You have to own the market. That's what you have to do. It's not about you don't work the patents. They will find a way to remember during the patent pending time. That's when it works for both ways, because during the patent pending, you can see how people are trying to get around your patent and then you can switch your wording to cover it. So it works for the inventor. And it OK, but the way that it doesn't work is they see what your invention is and they see it hasn't been assigned yet, so they take the chance of copying it. OK, so what happens is what they do is they copy you and then they put they have more money to push it out. Right. So it's like think about it for a minute. You're selling a magnetic latch on the Internet or you're selling it in five thousand Wal-Mart stores, you know what I mean? The Wal-Mart store is going to put the word out there. So you have to come in and own the market, not just patent wise. They will get around your patent and then they'll make it so that it's so expensive, like, let's say L'Oreal and Olive Black, for example. L'Oreal is one of the biggest companies. All of life is a hair protector right now. So, OK, so L'Oreal was like, shit, we've been doing this for a minute and we didn't come up with this like shit man. So then they had talks with them and they're like, hey, you know, can we get in on this? And the price is high.
So they're like, let's just make it ourselves, right? Let's just make it ourselves. How much money can we make on making it ourselves? How much money do we have to pay out if we get sued for the money? You know what?
Let's get food, we make more money.
Yeah, still looks good, right?
So that's how they're thinking. And so you have to make it where it is so expensive that they won't even want to bother. And so what I did was first came in on the marketplace. I did digital marketing that they didn't know how to do. Then they came in and tried to mimic our digital marketing style, but they still don't know how to do it. Then what we found out was that they're they're knocking our eyelashes off. Right. But they don't really know how the lashes are made. They don't really understand it. So they're knockoff isn't it's just not the same. But meanwhile, it's like I have already own the marketplace. So there you know what I'm saying? When people go last, five people are going, oh, that underlies. They know they're like Lashof. Oh, yeah. That's a knock off. That's what you want, you know what I mean? So you want to come in and create so much. He forgets the patterns, they know the patterns. They know how to get around it, you know what I mean? Like, yeah, money game, you know, and it's you just have to. But it's really about I'm the owner of this make the biggest noise and be like, you know, so that was the way that I protected myself.
And it worked to some point. Yeah, for sure. Gosh, what a crazy journey you so. Well I want to talk about.
I was reading in the media about your initiative during the Black Lives Matter movement and how you've started an incubator to look for a block funded business, female founded. And you want to invest one hundred thousand dollars in that. And I want to talk about that because it's just so fucking cool and so awesome. And yeah, I want to know how it's going. Have you found any.
That's OK. So what's really interesting is that was also sort of now remember I told you that these companies monopolize the market and then don't innovate now. I OK, so so my background is obviously Persian middle. I've always been a very diverse in my life in general, but some of my very, very best friends are in the African-American community. And also I have naturally really curly hair. So I'm always looking for hair stuff and like nobody understands hair, like the black nobody. And what I noticed also was that that whole market, the hair market, the conditioning market, the weed market, all of it is owned not by the black community. And therefore, it's not very innovative either. Like I wear weaves. I'm like, why is there no tool that lets me scratch my head? Like, you know what I mean? So that actually really bothered me because it's actually the same people that were trying to take my business, you know, owned that business. So I was like, this is not right, because not only are you not innovating the options of what you're selling stock, OK?
You also don't hire people in the community and then I'd like her to stuff like someone's nail designs had gotten stolen woman of color, another person's nail designs had gotten stolen. One of them was like, you know, I might not look like a woman in color, but I'm actually the person, you know, and that bothered me. And this is long before this recent movement. So when this came out, when that happened to George Floyd, I as a person, it's not political and never British politics into my business. I could not shut up. I was like, I'm sorry, I've got to get well, you know what I mean? So I started to argue about it and there was like mad mayhap, like, people didn't like, you know, and this is before like I had to be like, this is so wrong. Like, so I started talking about it, you know, and it created kind of a drama in our form because people didn't want me to bring that in. And I said, you know, you guys are. You know, I don't I donated money, I gave free memberships to customers during covid that couldn't pay for their membership like we talked about it know, we we had a community on our Facebook group where a support community, all they did was talk about covid. And all of a sudden this happens and they don't want us to talk about it because it doesn't affect us. Maybe some of them and I really mad. I know we're talking about this. You don't want to be my customer, then buy because we don't we're not aligning.
It was really this is what I support and this is what is what I'm about.
This is what I'm doing.
I don't I am all about saying, listen, there was a moment in time where there was people in our group that were making some really anti Asian comments over the covid stuff like I have no tolerance for it. Like, no and not happening, you know what I mean? And the same thing. So I was like I this particular thing, I got really emotional over. And then I saw these companies being like Black Lives Matter. And here's fifty thousand to the initiative. And here's here. And I was like. OK, so then I know that I have to do something because I as much I know I'm an advocate and an ally, but I'm also a big brand now, so I have to do that whole like, oh, we got to look good, too, in. That bothered me because I felt like it was not organic. And I if I could give two million dollars to this, I would, you know what I'm saying. I do it in a minute. I, I didn't want to look good for anybody, if that makes sense. But this was something so personal to me that I was like, how do I make a difference?
Like, how do I. And then I thought about. What all of my friends wanted for me usually was advice like there was that. Remember I told you I learned a lot of business from my dad. OK, I would hear it. So if your dad or your mom's history is just trying to get by, just trying to survive, the black community has put in majority due to the systematic oppression, has been in a survival mode, not in a. Let me teach you how to do some business hustle.
You know what I'm saying? They're like, shit, how are we going? How am I not going to get you to get that way? How am I going to not you know what I'm saying? Because it hasn't been fair.
So I realize I need to spread the word of what I learned. I'm going to teach it to you and then you can teach it to someone else. And so what I realized is that with with some money and then with some great advice, I can make a difference if I make that person promise that they'll do the same for someone else and we can start creating this, you know.
And so that's where that's where it came from. And I also have like a mad interest. And obviously I'm like looking for the next big Hareli, you know, I'm so excited about it.
I can tell you.
Have you had some really cool submissions?
Yeah, there's two companies that I'm going to take on. So one is she's pretty well known. She's like, I haven't I haven't made the announcement, but fantastic makeup artist who just was a little bit of Internet marketing out, packaging out. I'm going to bring their prices down, you know what I mean? So it's just like, for example, like they might be paying like three dollars and fifty cents for something. I know that I can get it for them for a dollar and twenty cents, you know what I mean? We're doing like stuff like that. Then there's then I have another hair brand that has like some of the best formulations I've ever seen, so.
How cool after the announcement, we should put them on the podcast.
I would love it. That would be really fun. OK, let's do it. That would be super fun.
That's totally do it. Yeah, I'd love it.
So amazing. And just so like so needed.
Yeah. Yeah. You have to you know, I'm a strong believer like more than anything. And you reap what you sow and.
I genuinely, in my heart of heart, want to see people do well, and I genuinely in my heart of heart, like, for example, I care about what my one gossamer looks like. And I feel that when you put that kind of energy into your products or into the world, you will get it back. You know, like people open these little packages up and they say that, like, their heart flutters and it makes them feel good. And I think it's because I use l