It’s time to get something off my chest…
This is something I’ve been holding back since the start of the new year, because it’s complicated to speak about and involves someone whom I love with all my heart. It’s frustrating, it’s disappointing and honestly it’s made me feel like a bit of a failure for a very long time. I don’t really know how to approach it, but here goes.
At the start of this year, I decided to part ways with the company that I built with my younger brother, called SocialEyes Lashes. It was an emotionally heavy and difficult decision, that took almost a full year to come to terms to & we’re still wrapping things up. With neither of us having prior formal business education to draw from, it has been a very trying experience for both parties.
This dissolution of partnership happened for many reasons- but it boils down to having two very different ideas of how you want things to operate and a lack of effective communication.
SocialEyes started as a small spark of inspiration while I was working at the Estée Lauder counter in David Jones at Tuggerah, NSW. Our counter was a popular spot for women to get their makeup done before going to a special event. From school dances to retirements, anniversaries and many birthdays, it was so much fun doing makeup for women of all ages. The one thing we didn’t offer though, were false eyelashes- and most our clients asked for them. In the entire store, only one brand sold lashes ($25 ~ish) and they were HUGE, plastic and more for avant guard style makeup. One day after completing a look for a client, I used the receipt roll from the cash register to write down some styles of lashes that the women kept asking for, so I could go look for some options at *Priceline on my break (*a local Aussie Drugstore).
Turns out, Priceline also had slim pickings. I was fed up with the limited choice and low quality, plastic-y lashes available. When I returned to the Estée Lauder counter, my brain was buzzing with ideas of lashes and logistics.
I came up with the name SocialEyes as an obvious play on the word Socialise – but also as a nod to the social media platforms on which I’d build the brand. After excitedly fleshing out the details over the coming weeks, I organised a Skype call with my brother Hayden, who was living in Canada (and was interested in ecommerce) so I pitched him the idea. At the time, I was 22 and he was 19.
When SocialEyes launched in 2014 (out of my garage in Lisarow, NSW), I couldn’t have been more proud. We had overcome so much to start a business in a foreign country and there is not many things more satisfying than having something tangible in your hands that you designed and created. Our launch day didn’t run perfectly smooth, but it was still magic. I was hooked.
Our partnership was based on ‘let’s play our strengths’ and see where this goes and we did pretty fantastic for the first few years. Soon after launching, we opened our HQ office and warehouse in Salmon Arm, BC where my brother is based, and he took over operations there. We started selling bulk to larger companies (like ShowPo and Ipsy) as well as launched a storefront stand for businesses to cary our lashes in physical stores. When Glen and I moved to Canada in 2016, we found a new Australian base for the warehouse. We launched Silver Series, the world’s first mixed fibre lash and started our third warehouse over in the UK. We sponsored makeup events, did fun photoshoots, went to trade shows and were even featured in a magazine spread or two.
Like any business, there were ups and downs with lots of learning curves. Running a company remotely with a business partner who lives across the world isn’t easy at the best of times. When things got tough, it was wickedly stressful not only for us, but for our significant others and family as well. SocialEyes became a constant topic during our actual family time, because that was usually the only time we were all in a room together.
I think undoubtedly our biggest failure was not communicating effectively before making decisions. We tried mediation various times, but nothing seemed to stick. Over the course of several years, a series of autocratic choices were made that no longer reflected the business plan or culture that we had agreed to build together. We had very different ideas on how to run a successful business and could never seem to get on the same page; it came to the point of no longer wanting to be involved in choices that I didn’t believe in, so I bowed out. Since Hayden was the one who managed our warehouse, it made more sense for him to continue on with this company.
I love my brother very much. I’m so proud of the things we accomplished with SocialEyes and will never forget. We travelled multiple times to Indonesia together to learn our manufacturing process (watch that vlog here!). Hayden lived with Glen and I for almost 3 months to launch this company, and again for a month (or two) the following year. The lashes I designed were worn by all you incredible people (& even by RITA FREAKING ORA & Nicole Scherzinger! I mean- WHAT?!!)
The adventures we’ve had and the lessons we’ve learned together are priceless.
Hayden is a hard working, loyal and wonderful person. The last thing I’d ever want is for someone online to take sides, or to not support SocialEyes because I’m no longer involved in the company. I plan on continuing to use SocialEyes Lashes because they are still freaking awesome lashes and I’m proud to have co created this brand. I wish Hayden nothing but success with whatever he chooses to do with SocialEyes in the future.
At some point soon, there will be a public update from SocialEyes alerting you to any other changes that are being made with the company, but please know, I no longer have any involvement and haven’t for some time.
Also a heads up – SocialEyes social media accounts are no longer ran by our social media manager and they will instead be taken on in house by whomever SocialEyes appoints. If you need to get in touch with the SocialEyes team, maybe shoot them an email on contact@SocialEyesLashes.com rather than DMs during this change over.
I hope this answers your questions, or sheds some light on why I haven’t been able to update you regarding the brand or restocks etc. I apologize for not speaking up sooner and thank you for your patience; it’s been a difficult thing to navigate with many people involved.
I’d like to thank you all so very much for your support over the years with SocialEyes. I’m proud of the things we achieved and it was truly such a learning experience. I feel that I’ve grown personally and professionally from it and I’m now looking forward to putting this in the rear-view and focusing on new business ventures moving forward.
On to the next chapter.
Lots of love,