Today we’d like to introduce you to Sophia Ngo.
Hi Sophia, thanks for sharing your story with us. To start, maybe you can tell our readers some of your backstory.
My parents came to America as Vietnamese Refugees in 1976. I was born the youngest of 14 children. Growing up, my dad always emphasized the importance of education especially for our future. I attended University of CA, San Diego and graduated in 2004 with a BA in Economics and Sociology. That same year, I gave birth to a beautiful daughter. I worked for the County of San Diego for a few years before making a complete career change.
In 2006, my friend Jenny offered me the opportunity to learn how to do eyelash extensions from her- as it would be the “next big thing”. Jenny was a genius, she had attended a beauty convention in Las Vegas where she saw a demo and quickly went home, built a kit, and started offering lash services to her clients. At first, I was not interested at all, I had a job with the county that was stable and had great benefits- there was no way I would ever do lashes for a living. However, she pushed me to learn anyway, and for the next six months, I drove up to Arcadia every weekend to the salon she worked at. She taught me everything I needed to know about lash extensions and started booking clients for me to “practice” on. After I stopped my training, I didn’t do much with eyelash extensions until 2008 when I moved to Orange County, CA.
While I was in transition with my career, my brother Sam asked me what I was planning to do for work now that I am pretty much starting from scratch. He gave me the idea of doing lashes since I was in a very good location and there was a need for the service. From there, I enrolled into the cosmetology program at Paul Mitchell The School, Costa Mesa. During that time, I posted my lash services on Craigslist and offered mobile lashes to help me pay for school. Once I became licensed in 2008, I began offering lash services to everyone. In 2011, I was offered a rental space at Creations Salon and Barbershop in Irvine, CA, and I have been there since,
The journey was not easy and many times, I questioned whether this was the right career move for a single mom with no other means of income or support. God has blessed me in so many ways and I managed to build not only my career but my reputation with all of Orange County and parts of San Diego and Los Angeles as well.
Today, I not only work as a lash artist but also as a permanent makeup artist and a financial professional.
Would you say it’s been a smooth road, and if not what are some of the biggest challenges you’ve faced along the way?
One of the greatest struggles of opening your own business is the uncertainty that comes with such a big decision. I was very lucky and blessed to have a lot of support from my family and from my part-time employers in the beginning. My sister allowed me to take clients in her living room for about two years, and that allowed me to build my clientele so that when I moved to work in a salon, I was not starting from scratch. I was also very fortunate to have the opportunity to work at a salon with a very understanding and all around amazing owner.
When I first started out as a lash artist, I had maybe 3-5 clients a week. It took about one year and some Yelp reviews to help me build my clientele to three clients a day. In the beginning, I had to work a part-time job to help supplement my income and to allow me to be able to provide for my daughter and pay rent. By the time I began working in the salon, my clientele numbers had been pretty steady where I could do lashes for a living full time. There were many times throughout the years where I questioned my decision to become self-employed – my family always said I needed something stable since I had a young daughter to take care of, however I am glad that I stuck through and made it work.
One of the hardest things to deal with recently as a small business owner was the shutdowns we had due to COVID-19. I was really blessed to have clients who were so generous and kind, who still paid for services even though I was shut down for months and unable to offer my services to them- I am forever grateful for those clients and the kindness they showed me during that difficult time. I was also very blessed to have Kymm, the owner of Creations Salon, during that time- she took care of all her stylists and artists at that time and really made me feel like family. I will forever be grateful for her generosity throughout the years.
I started out with no knowledge of what it takes to run my own business, but through lots of trial and error, learning from my mistakes, and growing from them I am where I am today. If you don’t take risks, you will never know what you are missing out on.
We’ve been impressed with Lashes by Sophia, Inc. but for folks who might not be as familiar, what can you share with them about what you do and what sets you apart from others?
I specialize in: Eyelash extensions (classic, hybrid, volume) all custom sets and designs, Lash lifts, Ombré Powder Brows, and Lip Blush.
I am known for my lash extensions- the majority of the people that come to me do so because I specialize in a very natural look. Also, I am very thorough with my consultation and giving my clients what they want without risking the integrity of their natural lash.
I have over 15 years of experience with lash extensions – for me, it is all about the clients’ natural lash health. If a client wants something that will cause a lot of damage to their natural lash, I will refuse the service after explaining to them why- if they still want the look regardless, I will have them find another artist.
Lashes are meant to enhance our natural beauty, but it must be done in a way that will allow for the health and longevity of your natural lash first and foremost.
Are there any apps, books, podcasts, blogs or other resources you think our readers should check out?
Books: Think And Grow Rich
You Can’t Hurt Me by David Goggins
Dropping bombs with Brad Lea
- Full set CLASSIC lash extensions $165/relash $75
- Full set HYBRID lash extensions $185/relash $90
- Full set VOLUME lash extensions $225/relash $105
- Lash Lift $75
- Ombre Powder Brows $350/6 week touch up $100
- Email: Lashesbysophia@gmail.com
- Website: www.lashesandbrowsbysophia.com
- Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/lashesbysophia/
- Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/lashesandbrowsbysophia
- Yelp: https://www.yelp.com/biz/lashes-and-brows-by-sophia-irvine-2
Khoa Nguyen Photography