For the last five years, Barbie Conner has been the owner of Lash Fantasy, providing a host of beauty services to women in the metro Atlanta area.
She is not only a beauty entrepreneur but also a lash master, certified lash educator, licensed esthetician and permanent makeup artist. A former registered nurse, she also has been able to leverage her experience in the medical field to provide beauty services to women that include teeth whitening, lipo contour, waxing, scalp micro-pigmentation and permanent makeup. Pairing her dual passion for health and beauty, she also provides 3D areola nipple tattoos, which she donates to breast cancer survivors.
Rolling out recently spoke with Conner about some of the things she’s doing for breast cancer survivors and what it takes to be a successful beauty entrepreneur.
What made you decide to offer 3D nipple tattoos to breast cancer survivors?
First, I started doing permanent makeup, and that’s basically instant gratification. The women are happy because it looks beautiful and doesn’t wash off. They get to wake up with their makeup. My mother died from breast cancer some years ago, and she didn’t stand a chance. She didn’t get to have a mastectomy or live a longer to have her breast redone and enjoy life. So, for women who are blessed to survive and lose their breasts, their bodies are basically mutilated.
Obviously, our breasts are something that we don’t expose to the world, but we look at them every day. They’re a huge part of us, whether we show them off or not. When women get any kind of cosmetic surgery, they want it to look as close to normal as possible. It’s gratifying for women who have been through the physical, mental and emotional trauma of breast cancer to return their bodies back to the way they used to look or as close as possible.
I feel like by me doing it, I’m sharing a little love that my mother never got to experience. It’s worth getting to see the tears that they shed or hugs that they give when they feel closer to being whole again. I’ve been meeting with a couple of plastic surgeons that want to send their patients my way. I’ve been meeting with the surgeons so that their patients know that this is a viable option.
What made you want to go into the esthetician field?
I value education, and I understand the value of education. I would rather be overqualified for something, so no one can tell me that I can’t do something. For one, the law in Georgia requires that you are a licensed esthetician to do lash extensions. Being a nurse was surprisingly not tough, so I went back to school and got my esthetician’s license.
At first, I serviced lashes through a friend of mine who wore them. I knew doing natural lashes wasn’t that fabulous, so I was very intrigued. Back then, it was $300 just to get them done, and I wanted it for myself. I was able to afford it and invested in it but realized that the girl who did mine was not invested in her education. Not satisfied with her work, I decided to look into it for myself because I felt like I could do a better job. I started asking questions and found out that there was so much more to learn.
Why did you decide to base your business in suburban Gwinnett County instead of inside the city of Atlanta?
I think a lot of people get caught up in the hype and want to be in the city. They think being in the center of Atlanta is where it’s happening and where all the celebrities are. The reality is the real people live all over the metro Atlanta area.
I’m a real person, and I live in Gwinett County. I don’t want to travel into downtown Atlanta or go to Buckhead, or wherever is trendy to get a service. We’re constantly booked out with hundreds of women who are just like me. They’re moms, businesswomen, professionals, college students or retired. They just want to look beautiful, and there’s a market everywhere for that. I felt like Gwinett County was seriously lacking, so I decided to put myself in the heart of one of the biggest streets in the county.
You’ve also decided to create a “Lash Academy,” expanding your business even more. Where did that idea come from?
The academy was born because of the horrible lash work that we’ve seen out and about. We’re known in the area for fixing bad lashes, which we do all the time. Unfortunately, people don’t invest in their education. They try to pay for training for as little as possible and don’t get the knowledge base that they need. They don’t practice their craft, and it shows. Unfortunately, the clients who are recipients of that have their lashes destroyed.
For me, it’s great having all these women come into the door asking us to fix their lashes. However, it makes our industry look like less than amazing. So, I’m on a mission to re-educate these young ladies and show them the proper way. I’m a certified lash educator, so I invested in that training for myself. I already knew a whole lot about lashes, but I learned a little bit more.