This article was created in partnership with FOUND/LA, a Wurwand Foundation initiative that connects local entrepreneurs with funding, coaching, and a like-minded community so their businesses, neighborhoods, and cities can thrive. Follow FOUND/LA on Instagram and on Twitter to become a part of our network and support small businesses.
When the pandemic first began, many assumed it would be over in a month — maybe two. As September nears with no clear end in sight, many small business owners are dealing with the reality that this may be a new way of life.
With one in three small businesses already closed, and 41% percent of them reporting a 50% decline in revenue in the past four months (via Small Business Majority), entrepreneurs are getting creative. That includes celebrity brow guru and makeup artist Suzie Moldavon, founder of L.A.-based eyebrow shaping service, Flybrow.
Like many aesthetics studios, Flybrow relied on in-person customers for their business. Moldavon, whose clients include Lady Gaga, Mindy Kaling, Mel Robbins, and Meghan McCain, describes her last pre-COVID day.
"Wednesday, March 11, we had the busiest pop-up at Orly Color Labs with 22 back-to-back brow clients and taped four influencer videos highlighting our new brow lamination service," she explains. "This was our normal: One client every 15 minutes, getting as many in as we could from 1 to 8 p.m. Then, Thursday March 12, we were closed."
After trying mobile in-home services the first week of the shutdown, it became clear that visiting clients wasn't a safe quarantine option. Unlike retail stores and restaurants, who were able to quickly transition to an online or delivery experience, Flybrow's small team of four couldn't recreate their experience virtually.
"I wasn't sure how we were going to pivot. We touch people for a living," says Moldavon. "We went through all the emotional stages of disbelief at first. I knew I had a recession-proof business; we run pretty lean and we have weathered corporate financial storms before. But a pandemic — who would have ever thought?"
Flybrow hopped on the Instagram Live bandwagon and offered free live brow consultations. Moldavon says she was surprised by the global response: "From Texas and Philly to Malaysia. Before all this, we were a California-based company with clientele in L.A. and San Francisco. But now I started meeting all these people in different cities that we could never before reach. They had questions about filling in [and shaping] their brows, product questions, and so much more."
That's when a light bulb turned on. "I thought, 'They need more help than this, [like] a one-on-one opportunity. Can I help them and give them the same Flybrow magic without touching them?"
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Our new normal…✍🏼 This is what M-F looks like for us rn… #flybrowathome. For just a few more weeks, and then🤞🏼we'll update you as to how/ where/ when we plan to come back. Can't wait to touch all of your beautiful faces again! Don't worry, #virtualbrows will always remain, we have LOVED meeting all of our FLY babes around the 🌎💕. Happy Monday! #mondaymotivation #flyathome #saferathome #newnormal #flybrow
Thanks to technology, Flybrow at Home was born. Using her son's school iPad and the illustration program, Procreate, the tech-savvy entrepreneur began to offer virtual brow consultations by "drawing" brows onto pictures of her clients. She highlighted the areas where they should grow their brows in, and where they should tweeze, and then would Zoom with customers one-on-one to walk them through her advice.
"For $75, [customers] get mock-up photos from all angles of their brows that they can follow themselves or take to a brow expert in their hometowns when all of this is over," explains Moldavon. "[They also] get a 30-minute recorded Zoom call with me where we fill in their brows together, and trim or tweeze or even learn to tint. They can keep the photos and refer to the Zoom month after month."
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When we're not busy at our weekly pop up in Brentwood, we're in backyards all over from West LA, to the Palisades… next stop, Beverly Hills! Let us know where we should go next! And please tell us this heat wave is ending SOON! 🥵 #flybrowpopup #outside #podpopup #popup #outdoorbrows
Now that some version of quarantine life has become everyone's "new normal," Flybrow anticipates keeping their virtual brow service as part of their business model for the foreseeable future. They've also expanded their offerings to "Pod Pop-Ups," which offers outdoor eyebrow services to you and your quarantine pod.
Up next is the September online launch of the company's new Flybrow Academy, originally an in-person class that was created for professional aestheticians. Add an at-home brow lamination kit, and a branded Flybrow eyebrow pencil in the works, Moldavon embodies the entrepreneurial spirit of grit and creativity, no matter what the circumstances.
As she says, "Who knew that brow services could be done virtually!"