Bella Gardner: Bella Gardner Eye Couture
How far would you go to do what you love?
Drive across the country for your business?
Fly interstate to cater to your clients?
The brow artist and beauty queen of Byron shire, Bella Gardner, immersed herself in the fashion and beauty industry from a young age and quickly became one of Australia’s best eyelash extension applicators. What started as a square metre cubicle in a local beauty parlour, quickly turned into a cult following for one of the most coveted beauticians, with interstate trips booking out Bella Gardner Eye Couture months in advance.
With a craft so delicate and niche, thirteen years and counting in the industry, Bella shares her incredibly unique journey on the entrepreneurial road.
Starting from a home studio in Byron seven years ago, Bella’s hobby became a fruitful local Byron shire business, with word catching on about her artful technique and high quality process.
“Applying lashes started as my meditation, as something so relaxing and addictive I did for fun at home. Then people started catching on about my hobby and I was getting clients coming in constantly!”.
Entering a two-level salon, with a ‘hole in the wall’ booth to apply lashes at $60 a set, a turning point in Bella’s business occurred one day during a conversation with two tourists in town.
“Two complete strangers came up to me saying they loved my lashes and had come over from Gladstone for a holiday. I’d never even heard of the town, but they told me every girl there was obsessed with my lashes and begged me to come and do a pop-up.”
Using social media to garner interest in her business in the rural town, Bella posted a promise that if she gained enough traction on her page with appointment bookings, she would open a week long pop-up store in Gladstone. When appointments were made by over 30 girls in under 24 hours, Bella booked her flights to the wealthy mining town in rural South Australia, working 10 hour shifts a day, with a new client on the hour.
“When they said to me, ‘everyone is talking about your lashes’, I was so flattered but didn’t really believe them. I ended up having 600 clients and I’ve been flying back and forth there now for three years to continue my business!”
Honing in on a niche and unusual, but perfect target market, Bella started travelling to additional mining cities, catering to the wives and partners of miners who had relocated from the city and missed the services and amenities they were accustomed to at home.
“Word of mouth has been pivotal to my business's success” Bella highlights.
Bella’s keen eye for market opportunity and demand is second only to her first class process, charging $350 per 60 minute application appointment. Inspired by her own negative experiences with eyelash application, Bella maintains a strict method for her craft, with a focus on providing extremely fast service,
“I hated waiting for 2 - 3 hours for the process to be completed, that’s why I am efficient and very picky with how I do my work”.
“I do all the eyelash applications myself personally because I have a very set process that I know gets the best result. I always do full set applications that last the month. I don’t do refills to avoid damaging the natural lashes and eyes and I avoid a lot of the methods other beauticians use, opting instead for high quality and beautiful sets.”
With appointments booking out months in advance, Bella’s self grown business maintains her rural city clients and Byron Shire locals, in addition to her new Noosa clientele, with aims to expand to Bondi in a few months time. Believing “simple business is best”, Bella personally does all PR, marketing and administration herself, in addition to being the sole beautician of her business.
Juggling all the aspects of her business often poses a challenge, particularly in addition to her career as a retail and beauty social media influencer and model. Working with notable Australian brands, Sass n Bide, Lee Denim and Spell, Bella’s gypsy, beach-babe aesthetic has aided in garnering more business for her lash couture.
As a self-proclaimed creative type and Byron shire bohemian soul, Bella acknowledges there have been challenges in conducting her business.
"I would love to have someone handle all the logistical aspects of my business, so I can focus on my art more. At one point, girls were texting me at all hours of the day to book their appoints, so much so that I had to switch back to landline just to get some privacy!” laughs Bella.
With a fruitful business that has grown over 13 years, Bella owes her success to careful craftsmanship, passion and dedication to ensuring her business has opportunity to grow.
Follow Bella Gardner here.