Lilly Ghalichi is a reality star turned ultra-successful beauty entrepreneur with her fan-favorite company, Lilly Lashes. Having had to build up her own synthetic lashes for years, Ghalichi was able to redefine false eyelashes by creating the industry's first comfortable 3D Lashes. Years later, her collection has grown to include cruelty-free and faux mink lashes for any eye shape or glam level.
SWAAY sat down and spoke with Ghalichi on how she was able to create a product line that enthralls celebrity makeup artists and beauty gurus everywhere.
1. Lilly Lashes has come to include various products, but what inspired you to launch with lashes as your hero product?
I launched Lilly Lashes due to my own personal need for them! I was filming a Bravo Reality Show at the time, and back then there were only 2 lash options- barely human hair, or ultra-fake looking synthetic lashes (...think Halloween).
To get the glam lash look I wanted, I had to stack 3 to 4 pairs of human hair lashes on my lids. Often times I had to cut them up and glue multiple pairs together just to create the unique styles I wanted. It was so time consuming, I would spend 30 minutes in glam just on lashes.
I decided enough was enough and decided to develop ultra-glam lashes for girls like me that wanted something more dramatic than human hair lashes, but something that looked more natural than synthetic Halloween lashes.....and Lilly Lashes was born.
2. What was your business plan in the beginning? How has it evolved?
I didn't really have a business plan in the beginning other than to create a product that I personally needed and didn't already exist. I decided to sell them in case there were other girls who also wanted glam lashes. Once I saw just how many girls there were like me out there, I realized this was a product SO many wanted. So I then sat down and created a plan to offer 3D Glam Lashes. My plan has since evolved into dominating the lash space, not just in 3D Dramatic Lashes, but in natural lashes, Faux Mink Lashes, Lash Tools and Accessories. We are growing so quickly that the plan evolves daily.
4. Who are your favorite beauty bloggers and influencers at the moment?
I love Nikita Dragun. I've known her for a long time and have watched her work hard to become the powerhouse she is today. She is unapologetic, and owns her individuality, sexuality and stays true to herself. Rather than following trends, she starts her own. I love that. As far as makeup goes, I live for Nikki's Tutorials, she is hands down one of the most talented makeup artists on YouTube and I am blown away by her level of skill in makeup with each video she does.
5. What's your favorite product from your own line?
People always ask me this and the truth is, it always changes! Right now, I am obsessed with 3D Lilly Lashes in style "Hollywood"- a gorgeous, fluttery, dramatic lash. If you ask me next month the answer will be 3D style "Ela" because I'm into a Princess Jasmine type almond eye, so I want a wing-shaped lash. I'm honestly obsessed with them all!
6. What’s your point of difference from other lash companies?
I don't even think we are comparable. Our product innovation and quality is incomparable, and I'm not just saying that, it truly is! We create the trends in the lash space with everyone being a year behind. We are also the #1 lash brand among Celebrities, Celebrity Makeup Artists, Social Media Influencers, Youtubers and glam girls and boys around the world. It says a lot when every-single makeup guru and beauty celeb wears and loves your product.
7. How has your status as a reality television star affected your business? Has it created a platform to promote your product or have you separated your business from your experience of being on the show?
I think most people don't even know I was on a reality show, so I think 100% I have separated the two. With that said, the show did help create a social media platform that absolutely helped my business.
8. Have you faced any challenges in creating and promoting Lilly Lashes?
Every single day! Failure (or challenges) are a part of success. Not every idea you have will be successful, and that's okay. What's important to realize is that challenges will occur, it's how you overcome them and learn from them that matters.
I always try my best not to get too discouraged from challenges and instead focus on how far I've come and overcoming it to be even better and go further- never making the same mistake twice.
9. How integral has your social media been to promoting your brand? How have your connections with other influencers and online personalities helped establish brand awareness?
SO integral! Lilly Lashes was started as a social media brand. Our brands’ advertising and promotion was exclusively done on social media, not just my own pages, but also my friends' pages and other influencers. In today's world, it is 100% the key to any e-commerce's business success in my opinion.
10. What’s next for Lilly Lashes?
We entered all Sephora USA and Canada stores in 2018 and are also entering another major beauty retailer later this year, so be on the lookout for that. Both of these partnerships will make Lilly Lashes more easily accessible to every glam girl, which is a goal of mine.
You will also see a lot of new exciting products and collections being released towards the end of 2018. We have three new collections coming out with something catering to everyone's eye shape and style.
Gender divisions in sports have primarily served to keep women out of what has always been believed to be a male domain. The idea of women participating alongside men has been regarded with contempt under the belief that women were made physically inferior.
Within their own division, women have reached new heights, received accolades for outstanding physical performance and endurance, and have proven themselves to be as capable of athletic excellence as men. In spite of women's collective fight to be recognized as equals to their male counterparts, female athletes must now prove their womanhood in order to compete alongside their own gender.
That has been the reality for Caster Semenya, a South African Olympic champion, who has been at the center of the latest gender discrimination debate across the world. After crushing her competition in the women's 800-meter dash in 2016, Semenya was subjected to scrutiny from her peers based upon her physical appearance, calling her gender into question. Despite setting a new national record for South Africa and attaining the title of fifth fastest woman in Olympic history, Semenya's success was quickly brushed aside as she became a spectacle for all the wrong reasons.
Semenya's gender became a hot topic among reporters as the Olympic champion was subjected to sex testing by the International Association of Athletics Federations (IAAF). According to Ruth Padawer from the New York Times, Semenya was forced to undergo relentless examination by gender experts to determine whether or not she was woman enough to compete as one. While the IAAF has never released the results of their testing, that did not stop the media from making irreverent speculations about the athlete's gender.
Moments after winning the Berlin World Athletics Championship in 2009, Semenya was faced with immediate backlash from fellow runners. Elisa Cusma who suffered a whopping defeat after finishing in sixth place, felt as though Semenya was too masculine to compete in a women's race. Cusma stated, "These kind of people should not run with us. For me, she is not a woman. She's a man." While her statement proved insensitive enough, her perspective was acknowledged and appeared to be a mutually belief among the other white female competitors.
Fast forward to 2018, the IAAF issued new Eligibility Regulations for Female Classification (Athlete with Differences of Sexual Development) that apply to events from 400m to the mile, including 400m hurdles races, 800m, and 1500m. The regulations created by the IAAF state that an athlete must be recognized at law as either female or intersex, she must reduce her testosterone level to below 5 nmol/L continuously for the duration of six months, and she must maintain her testosterone levels to remain below 5 nmol/L during and after competing so long as she wishes to be eligible to compete in any future events. It is believed that these new rules have been put into effect to specifically target Semenya given her history of being the most recent athlete to face this sort of discrimination.
With these regulations put into effect, in combination with the lack of information about whether or not Semenya is biologically a female of male, society has seemed to come to the conclusion that Semenya is intersex, meaning she was born with any variation of characteristics, chromosomes, gonads, sex hormones, or genitals. After her initial testing, there had been alleged leaks to media outlets such as Australia's Daily Telegraph newspaper which stated that Semenya's results proved that her testosterone levels were too high. This information, while not credible, has been widely accepted as fact. Whether or not Semenya is intersex, society appears to be missing the point that no one is entitled to this information. Running off their newfound acceptance that the Olympic champion is intersex, it calls into question whether her elevated levels of testosterone makes her a man.
The IAAF published a study concluding that higher levels of testosterone do, in fact, contribute to the level of performance in track and field. However, higher testosterone levels have never been the sole determining factor for sex or gender. There are conditions that affect women, such as PCOS, in which the ovaries produce extra amounts of testosterone. However, those women never have their womanhood called into question, nor should they—and neither should Semenya.
Every aspect of the issue surrounding Semenya's body has been deplorable, to say the least. However, there has not been enough recognition as to how invasive and degrading sex testing actually is. For any woman, at any age, to have her body forcibly examined and studied like a science project by "experts" is humiliating and unethical. Under no circumstances have Semenya's health or well-being been considered upon discovering that her body allegedly produces an excessive amount of testosterone. For the sake of an organization, for the comfort of white female athletes who felt as though Semenya's gender was an unfair advantage against them, Semenya and other women like her, must undergo hormone treatment to reduce their performance to that of which women are expected to perform at. Yet some women within the athletic community are unphased by this direct attempt to further prove women as inferior athletes.
As difficult as this global invasion of privacy has been for the athlete, the humiliation and sense of violation is felt by her people in South Africa. Writer and activist, Kari, reported that Semenya has had the country's undying support since her first global appearance in 2009. Even after the IAAF released their new regulations, South Africans have refuted their accusations. Kari stated, "The Minister of Sports and Recreation and the Africa National Congress, South Africa's ruling party labeled the decision as anti-sport, racist, and homophobic." It is no secret that the build and appearance of Black women have always been met with racist and sexist commentary. Because Black women have never managed to fit into the European standard of beauty catered to and in favor of white women, the accusations of Semenya appearing too masculine were unsurprising.
Despite the countless injustices Semenya has faced over the years, she remains as determined as ever to return to track and field and compete amongst women as the woman she is. Her fight against the IAAF's regulations continues as the Olympic champion has been receiving and outpour of support in wake of the Association's decision. Semenya is determined to run again, win again, and set new and inclusive standards for women's sports.