Sometimes our problems are a business opportunity waiting to be explored. It happened to Katy Stoka, founder and inventor of One Two Lash, the first and only patent-pending magnetic lash.
She was a luxury real estate development sales director who loved the look of false lashes. The only problem was that applying the slow drying lash glue took a lot of time. “I’d always loved the look of false lashes, I just hated the messy time-consuming application process,” says Stoka.
The beauty of her problem though, was that millions of women love to wear eyelashes but hate that they require a lot of time and effort to apply. Her problem wasn’t only a problem for her, it’s a universally aggravating problem. “I knew if I felt this way, other women did, too.”
So she quit her job and began a journey that birthed One Two Lash, which is now available in more than 75 countries. I caught up with Stoka to learn more about her entrepreneurial journey. Here are some excerpts from our chat:
How did you come about the idea for your product?
I was a false lash wearer for nearly two decades — I loved the way they beautified me but I could not handle the time hassle. When I first started thinking about One Two Lash I had two very young children and a demanding career — I just wanted effortless lashes in two seconds.
That makes sense. So you basically had a problem and wanted a solution to it. But how did you turn your idea into a real business and a best-selling product?
It took about two years to go from the point of conceptualizing One Two Lash to launching sales. I became not just an entrepreneur but an inventor. As I was developing the magnetic lash I found myself everywhere from Home Depot to scientific research labs.
At the same time, I was building a company, raising private funds and creating a specific marketing strategy. I knew that if I was desperate to have amazing lashes in seconds, many other women would be as well.
Why did you quit your former career as a real estate consultant and what made you decide it was time to quit?
Timing is everything! I was in real estate development sales for a little over a decade. For me, it was the perfect time to transition into what I expected to be an adventurous entrepreneurial journey with One Two Lash.
What were some of your biggest hurdles as you transitioned from working for a company to starting a business?
I knew the real estate world like the back of my hand. In the beauty industry, I was simply an excited consumer. This seemed like a hurdle at first but was likely a factor in my success.
I did not know anyone in the industry so I went the route of engineers, chemists, and scientists, I used non-industry freelancers for my designs and really kept everything very, very quiet during my R&D stage.
As anyone who builds a business from the ground knows, every day consists of putting out anything from a little smoke to an alarm fire. So, I was fortunate that I wanted this product for my own use as much as I wanted to patent and market it for others. That kept me motivated.
Each iteration of the One Two Lash prototype was a mini victory to me. I will never forget the first day my prototype was attractive enough to wear out of the house. I still could not tell anyone about the patent-pending invention, but I got so many compliments on my eyes.
It wasn’t an overnight success, but did you know it would catch on in a big way?
I am an eternal optimist, and deep down I knew One Two Lash would be a success. I worked hard every day to take in as little negative stimuli as possible and remain focused on my goals. The good days are usually amazing and far outweigh the bad ones.
Do you think it’s harder for women to succeed as entrepreneurs than it is for men?
Can I say, with all due respect, I’ve been asked this question before and I always think – do men get asked the reverse? I am thankful to all of the women who fought for equal rights before me, because I have never felt a disadvantage being a woman building my company.
In fact – perhaps because my invention was the first magnetic eyelash – half the time I was actually educating men on the importance of lashes. Men: women freak out about eyelashes. Being able to revolutionize such an essential beauty tool represents a huge industry… billions.