How To Start A Beauty Empire With Your Best Friend
Lash extensions are really in right now, but Courtney Casgraux knew that would happen long before we did. Courtney, who is the co-founder of Go Blush Yourself (GBY), a California-based beauty brand loved by your favorite Instagram it-girls, quickly became Hollywood’s go-to “lash guru.” After launching the company only two years ago, GBY, which started as a lash service salon, added products and an education program to the business. We caught up with Courtney to find out how she turned lash extensions into a budding beauty empire, all side-by-side with her best friend. Here’s her story:
Galore: What was the day when you were like this is what I’m going to do?
Courtney Casgraux: That’s kind of complicated. I always had a dream to work for myself. But there was one day I realized I had to do GBY at that moment. It was like fight or fright — I just kept thinking “you have to do it now.” That was probably three years ago, which was also right when I met Kendra, my business partner.
You guys seem like you’ve known each other for your entire lives!
CC: Yeah, people think we’re sisters. Kendra will actually say we are. When I met her everything just fell into place. It was the perfect partner balance.
What prompted your interest in the beauty industry?
CC: I’ve always been interested in beauty. I’m an artist at heart, first and foremost. I was a makeup artist, that was the first step. Then I just got really into products, beauty, and the power of transformation. My dreams of wanting to start my own brand came from there. I never thought I was going to start with a salon service, I thought it was going to be product first.
That’s interesting. Okay, so where did you guys start GBY out of?
CC: First, we started by doing pop up beauty events on the West Coast and East Coast. Then we started selling tickets on an upright and rented airbnbs to do exclusive parties there.
That’s so cool!
CC: Yeah, it just kind of spiraled out of control once we started doing lashes because the clients loved it — they felt so beautiful. We started hearing questions like “when am I going to see you next?” After that, opening up a salon just made sense.
How are your and Kendra’s roles different at GBY?
CC: They overlap a lot! If I have a vision and I tell her we should do “xyz,” she’s really good at taking that and making it happen. It’s kind of like the dreamer and the doer, but we are both dreamers and both doers, so sometimes we swap roles.
Did you start GBY at the start of the lash extension trend?
CC: Somewhere in the middle. I feel like in the past five years lash extensions have become a big thing, and we started about three years in.
How has it changed since you started?
CC: It’s such a big thing now. And honestly, it’s officially an accepted beauty service – the same as when you get your nails done. We used to have a hard time getting our clients to write or post about it because they wouldn’t want people to know they got extensions. Today, it’s mainstream. People want to post about it and be like “look I got my lashes done.”
Was there a personal moment in your life that made you interested in becoming an independent business woman?
CC: I worked at so many places where I felt like the underdog. I felt like I wasn’t valued or like my personal life was suffering. I just felt like the little man. When I started my business, I wanted to create an environment where women and my whole team felt like their opinions were valued. We work together collectively at GBY.
Women have a lot of power in the beauty industry, don’t they?
CC: Yes, there’s definitely a certain amount of respect. I think beauty is just so powerful in general — it can make you feel a certain way. And women understand that.
Why’d you decide to use an influencer network as a form of advertising?
CC: I wanted to take an approach that people could relate to. The influencers that we use are cultivated, not just anyone can be a GBY ambassador. We sit down and look at the girls, see what they’re doing, see who they’re influencing, and what their background is. Each girl that we have is truly for a different target audience. And I think that makes a big difference in how people can relate to our brand. Instead of looking at models who seem unattainable, you look at these women and feel like you could be their best friend.
So you guys pick girls with personalities and not just pretty faces.
CC: Yeah, there are so many pretty girls on Instagram — it’s crazy. But we are picking pretty girls who influence real people.
And does it work?
CC: Just because we’ll do lashes on a girl promoting our services doesn’t necessarily mean it will transfer into a client base. But it’s really helpful as far as establishing a brand identity. Like maybe some of their followers can’t afford the service, but they’ll become fans of GBY and what we do anyway. It definitely gets our name out there.
You do a ton of shoots with girls from your influencer network. What makes you do that?
CC: It’s about networking and finding creative people that we want to work with.
So then the lash service is just one thing under the umbrella of what GBY will become?
CC: Yes! Kendra and I have huge plans for it. It’s really a lifestyle we are trying to promote. We started out doing lashes, now we are focusing on growing our product line. At the moment, we are working on some super cool things I can’t really talk about yet. But… GBY is definitely growing into a lifestyle brand.
CC: We’re manufacturing an eye care line, full of lash cleansers, mascara, and liners that all promote lash growth.
You did a brow gel collaboration with one of your ambassadors before. Are you only interested in collaborating with other influencers? What about brands?
CC: Definitely brands! I would love to do a collab with a huge activewear brand. I actually really want to do an SPF skincare line with Nike!
You have four locations now. Do you have any plans to keep expanding?
CC: Yes! We are opening a trade school. It’s a lash and brow academy. What I’m most excited about is that we are offering single moms who make under $35k a year a discount of 50% off when they join the program.
Why the soft spot for single moms?
CC: I’m a single mom and it’s hard! If I didn’t have my family, I wouldn’t be as lucky as I am today. It’s too hard for single moms to work or go to school and it shouldn’t be that way.
Is that part of the reason why you wanted to start your own business?
CC: Yeah, I never thought I was going to marry a rich guy. I always thought I’d be the rich woman.
What’s the biggest lesson you’ve learned so far?
CC: To follow through with my word and not burn any bridges.
Have you experienced any struggles in working with men?
CC: [Laughing] Yes. I’ve been asked to meet for a meeting in a hotel restaurant, then the meeting was pushed back to nighttime and I found myself in a situation where he was trying to sleep with me. Stuff like that happens all the time, and it’s awful. Also, business meetings with men are totally uncomfortable for the most part. I’ve had men laugh in my face about collaborations we’ve wanted to do.
At GBY it’s mostly all women working together except for your photographer. How’s that?
CC: We all help each other! I think there’s definitely times when people feel like their ideas are getting overlooked, but with us it’s not because we think our employees’ ideas aren’t important, it’s because we may not have the time or resources to do the idea at that moment. Our entire team is really supportive. I’ve been blessed. The team works really hard and goes out of their way to take initiative and be creative.
What’s a piece of advice you wish you could give the younger you?
CC: Calm down because everything is going to be okay.