Ashely Alcantara is the founder of Lashology, a lash studio at Citizen Salon in Calgary, Alta.
I originally went to university for broadcasting and I continued onto a communications degree. I finished my degree in 2014 and I did lashes to get me through university.
So with the communications program, I had to do an internship. I actually did my internship in Trinidad, which is where I’m from. I came back to Calgary, looked for a job and there was really nothing. So I went back to my previous job doing lashes and kind of just stuck there. At that point, I was making good money so it was hard to walk away from that and start from the bottom doing any form of communication job.
Lashology is completely different than what I expected to be doing. I wanted to finish school and I wanted to go into corporate communications. That was my goal.
You spend four and a half years in university and once you get your degree, the expectation is for you to go out and obviously start your career in that field. But I also battled a little with this. I mean, corporate communications obviously is where the money is at. But I didn’t want to start from the bottom, and I didn’t know if I could picture myself sitting down at a 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. job, Monday to Friday.
One of the things I love about my job now is the relationship I have made with all my clients. They become friends, some of them even like family and I feel like I couldn’t have really gotten that with communications.
My favourite thing about my job, and as cliché as this may sound, is that feeling that you give a woman. When I’m done doing her lashes and she looks in the mirror and she smiles and feels confident, that is the best part of my job. Giving something as silly as lashes gives confidence. I know that seems ridiculous, but that’s something that we as women are lacking.
I felt like other people would look at me and think, “You have a degree but you’re doing lashes?” So at that point I knew I needed to either go back to school and pursue something else or I need to go above what I am doing now in the same industry. When you realize how much money you are making for other people, you realize there’s an opportunity to do it on your own. It was the scariest, most terrifying thing I have ever had to do.
I started looking for places to rent and I came across this place called Citizen Salon. They’re brand new to Calgary and the only one like it in Canada. It’s a big building with 43 different rooms filled with beauty professionals. We all rent our own studios and run our own business out of it.
We are all in the same boat. Every single one of us worked at a salon and are brand new to leaving the salon and working on our own. So the community that we have is huge.“When I’m done doing her lashes and she looks in the mirror and she smiles and feels confident, that is the best part of my job,” – Ashely Alcantara says.
Now it’s all me, it’s my own business and I have no one else to count on. To get out there and write newsletters and reach out to the community, my whole background with communications came into play with that. Also graphic designing, in a weird way. I wouldn’t have even had the basics of those things [without] my communications degree.
Getting over the fear was really hard for me. I’m three months in and I am still panicked I’m not nearly as busy as I would like to be. But [I] have a sense of pride, and realize this is mine. This is my little baby and I did it on my own.
It’s always been a dream of mine to own something. And now it’s happening.
As told to Stephanie Babych. This interview has been edited and condensed.
Editor: Emily Thwaites | firstname.lastname@example.org