Photo by Africa Studio / Shutterstock
There is no such thing as a roadmap or user’s manual for creating a successful business that caters to celebrities, Hollywood elite and some of the most famous people in the world. For the handful of glamour gigs like this that exist, every entrepreneur has her own fascinating story of how a mix of talent and timing merged with passion and persistence to create something magical. Dionne Phillips, the charismatic eyelash extension expert who works with dozens of celebrities with a boutique in Beverly Hills and a client list of the who’s who is a perfect example. Dionne grew up in Ohio and made her way to New York City where she carved out a successful modeling career. She stayed busy— constantly auditioning and working in television commercials, print ads and catalogs and dancing on MTV. She even worked as an actress and stuntwoman in television shows and a Spike Lee movie. Both grounded and professionally well-rounded, Dionne knew that the modeling work wouldn’t last forever, but her burning desire to do something exciting and meaningful would. So, she was always thinking about ways to reinvent herself when she segued away from the spotlight.
“This might sound a little cliche,” Phillips told us, “but I kind of foresaw this, and I knew something was going to happen. I didn’t want to be a model for a long time, and I was tired of running around chasing auditions and relying on someone else to be part of my destiny. When I started doing this for just my friends and fellow models in New York, and seeing how happy it made them, I knew I had found the opportunity for me to control my own destiny. That joy I saw in women when I did their eyelashes sparked something in me, like this is who I am and what I’m supposed to do.”
What Dionne started doing part-time in her apartment in New York grew into a thriving business where today she is now booked months in advance, sometimes flying to her VIP clients in Las Vegas or New York for standing appointments.
What Dionne started doing part-time in her apartment in New York grew to a thriving business where today she is now booked months in advance, sometimes flying to her VIP clients in Las Vegas or New York for standing appointments. Her attention to detail, natural artistic flair, and proximity to the entertainment and fashion industries created the perfect storm for celebs to find her very early in her career. “Serena Williams, Brandy and Regina King were my first celebrity clients in the beginning. Then, they would tell their friends and their managers about me, and then agents and production companies would start calling for their clients. Another thing that really helped me was Paris Hilton mentioning me in People Magazine, which led to me being booked eight months out. I knew I had an actual business when I could no longer fit people into my schedule,” Phillips said.
What a fabulous problem to have! Dionne is a perfectionist when it comes to the creation and application of the eyelashes. She cuts, shapes and attaches every single lash individually, and takes every conceivable piece of information into consideration including a client’s hair length, hair color, shape of their face and personality. “The process usually takes 60 to 90 minutes, and I really make it a relaxing and enjoyable process. My clients come in to a beautiful and serene environment with music playing in the background. I clean their eyes, and basically take these silk fibers that mimic eyelash hairs and I attach one single hair to their natural eyelash one at a time,” she said.
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Her clients leave the room with a renewed sense of beauty and confidence that gives Dionne a thrill that’s hard to duplicate. The eyelash extensions last six weeks or more, allowing women to look and feel beautiful and sexy in any setting.
“Their confidence just sparks,” Phillips explained. “People feel more polished and put together, and they feel they can tackle the world. Plus, there is an added convenience to their day because they can shave off time they would normally spend getting ready.”
Photo by Oleg Gekman / Shutterstock
...flipping through fashion magazines and watching movies and TV shows, as her artistic eyelash creations are looking right back at her from the pages and silver screens.
Having the high-profile collection of clients Dionne has makes for exciting times doing normally innocuous things, like flipping through fashion magazines and watching movies and TV shows, as her artistic eyelash creations are looking right back at her from the pages and silver screens. On her list of regular clients are at least four Oscar-winning actresses, including Sandra Oh, Viola Davis, Marissa Tomei and Regina King. Other celebs who have Dionne on speed-dial are Victoria Beckham, Mindy Kaling, Mary J Blige, Tony Braxton, Lindsay Price and Paula Abdul. As you can imagine, providing a service this intimate (when she makes house calls for celebrities, she usually does their lashes in their bedroom) means she’s become close friends with almost all of them. She’s a necessary and crucial part of their success, and for Dionne’s lesser-known clients she’s become similarly attached.
What’s Dionne’s advice to someone considering eyelash extensions but thinking it’s not for them? “You don’t have to have these big, full lashes,” she told us. “That’s usually the first impression when someone thinks about what I do. It’s not about that. It’s about giving you just an extra little something that you’re probably missing to complete a look. You don’t have to go on the red carpet. They are for going to the grocery store, or picking up your kids at school, or going to your next audition. You don’t have to be a celebrity to wear eyelash extensions.”
But, if Dionne is doing her job, you’ll most likely feel like a celebrity when she’s finished.
This month, we introduce Tom Zenner as regular guest columnist for ICONIC LIFE as he interviews fascinating people from his glamorous, celebrity-filled world. We’ll profile those stylemakers and trendsetters right here.
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