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Meet Drea McClenaghan of Sugar Bunny Lashes in Lomita

Today we’d like to introduce you to Drea McClenaghan.

Drea, please share your story with us. How did you get to where you are today?
My business journey began very unusually. I went to school and earned a degree in Child Development to become a preschool teacher, then I continued my schooling to earn a degree in Fashion Design because I really wanted to be a fashion designer. After that, I started my own business creating clothing lines for people, who had no knowledge of how to create a garment from concept to garment. That business took a lot out of me and took a toll on my family life, as well as, being a mom. It paid well, but the clientele was unappreciative, not understanding of the work creating a garment entails, and impossible to please. After getting into a car accident and totaling my car from falling asleep while driving (because I ran myself into the ground by staying up days in a row to meet deadlines), I decided that this business was going to kill me and make me hate my love for creating fashion. I still design collections to show in fashion shows in the LA area, I no longer do it as a job. Throughout this time, I was getting lash extensions done in Long Beach, where I lived at the time. Every time I would get my lashes done, I would leave and be extremely itchy in my throat, eyes, and ears. When I questioned the lash tech about why this was happening, she told me to “just take Benadryl”. After going there for a few months, I had a severe allergic reaction that required the lashes to be immediately removed. When I contacted the lash tech to remove them, she told me that I was a “liability” and that she would not be removing them, since I had signed a waiver releasing her from being sued. After that incident of having the lash extensions painfully removed with oil, I swore off lash extensions. A few months after that, I kept seeing friends and others with lash extensions, which made me really want them. I thought that there has to be something out there for me. I mean almost everything now has a hypoallergenic or organic alternative, which made me start my research. I only found two people who were over 2 hours away that offered services to people with allergies. I went to one of them and was disappointed with the customer service. It was then that I saw a gap in the market for lash extensions and that I wanted to be the one to fill it. I invested money in my first class and started practicing on my friends and family out of a spare room in my mom’s house. After building my portfolio and going through a painful breakup with my husband, I chose to invest more of my money in opening my lash studio, Sugar Bunny Lashes. Since then, my business has been growing, thriving and expanding. My dad has helped me out tremendously to turn it into the cute, pink and whimsical place it is today. I’m now training other lash artists to work with me and hope to grow exponentially in the next year.

Great, so let’s dig a little deeper into the story – has it been an easy path overall and if not, what were the challenges you’ve had to overcome?
My journey of running my own business has not been easy, but it has been rewarding. It was definitely a big leap of faith for me to rent a location and start up a business using all of own money. I literally started in a 500 sq. ft. space and was in the corner of my shop with a folding table, bed, chair, and light. The room was really sterile, white and empty. My first clients at that location were either totally fine with it and the others were a bit weirded out (Although, I don’t blame them, one bit!) I still have many of my first clients, as they understood I was building a business from scratch, but loved the work and customer service I provided. I refer to these clients as my “day ones”. Building clientele was one of the hardest things for me, because I was attempting to juggle working as a teacher during the day and then taking clients at night. Most of the time, I was working 16 hour/day. I was really afraid of leaving the stability of my income from my preschool job, but also felt sad about leaving my students. When I finally decided to take the leap to working for myself full time, everything started to fall together. I spent many hours with my dad on the weekends, evenings and even in between clients to beautify my lash studio. It’s still not exactly where I want it to be, but it has seen leaps and bounds since when I took over the space.

Please tell us about Sugar Bunny Lashes.
My business offers classic and volume lash extension services in the South Bay area. I specialize in offering hypoallergenic, allergy-sensitive and organic products to my clientele. As I continue to do more trainings and add employees, I’m planning to expand my services to include, lash lifts, microblading and microshading. What I’m most proud of as a company is the level of customer service I offer and why it has been so difficult for me to bring employees into my business. What sets us apart from other lash studios is definitely the vibe you get when you walk into our doors, because the space is definitely whimsical and very pink. Many of my clients say they feel like a princess when they come in!

Do you look back particularly fondly on any memories from childhood?
My favorite childhood memory was when I decided to try out for the only solo part in my school’s 5th grade performance. I knew that I enjoyed singing and my mom would tell me she liked how I sang, but it wasn’t until I worked up the nerve and put myself out there that I really gained the confidence to be okay with failing. I knew that if I didn’t get the solo part, it wouldn’t be a big deal, but when I did, I was so proud of myself. I feel like that decision at 10 years old was a pivotal point in my life. It was the precedent for me being able to make bigger decisions, having the confidence to try and possibly fail, but most of all, to bet on myself. I never cared what anyone else thought and I still hold onto that conviction, because I truly believe in myself and my abilities.

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Image Credit:
Drea McClenaghan
Dina Diaz
Josie Jones

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