Work It Wednesday - Leanna Da Cunha
There's something so meaningful about being able to share the stories of those who are fulfilled by the work they do, and Leanna Da Cunha is no exception to that. This MUA-turned-lashpreneur is on a mission to enrich the lives of the clients that walk through her door, first with an intimate and personalized experience, and capped off with a pair of killer lashes that are sure to serve as a confidence booster to tackle the day. Her business, Lash Babe, has taken off since its website launched this month. We couldn't be more excited to have had the chance to speak with her about starting her entrepreneurial journey, finding her way, and partnering with an organization that truly solidifies the purpose behind her business.
1. First off, tell us about yourself! Who is Leanna Da Cunha?
I’m definitely an introvert, which feels contradictory at times because I’m also an Aries. I prefer to listen and have always excelled in organizational/behind the scenes work. I am forever rooting for the underdog, in elementary and high school I was constantly standing up to bullies and befriending kids that other people picked on. I’m a feminist, active in the Queer community and a huge film geek… I also hate talking about myself and have used the word “I” far too much in this answer.
2. What's the story behind Lash Babe? What inspired you to start your own business?
I was a freelance Makeup Artist doing mainly bridal and beauty work for eight years, so I’m not new to working for myself. I started getting in to eyelash extensions a few years ago after taking a course but never really stuck with it. I stopped freelancing all together about two years ago to focus on my full time career after being promoted multiple times in management… but there’s something about freelance beauty work that’s so intimate and fulfilling that I missed. When you’re providing a beauty service there’s a lot of trust involved because you’re working so closely with someone. For example, I’ve taught a young girl who was blind in one eye from cancer how to apply eyeliner and I once helped a woman who was insecure about her Vitiligo find a foundation that would match – these are really special and intimate moments. I also grew up in a household where my father took a lot of pride in his work and owned his own business, he taught me how to have a strong work ethic and to be persistent and confident with your goals. I know that working for myself full time is my goal and Lash Babe is taking a step in that direction.
3. What do you love most about your work?
I love making people feel beautiful and giving them the confidence that we can’t always muster on our own.
4. The beauty services industry is growing so rapidly - and changing constantly! What sets you apart from others in your field?
I believe that beauty is for everyone, my brand has a pretty feminine aesthetic but I don’t advertise my services to women. Whether you’re male, female, trans, non-binary or identify anywhere else on the spectrum you can feel 100% comfortable with coming to me for a service. I’ve also partnered with Sistering for what I like to call “beauty with a purpose”, the beauty industry and beauty services are often thought of us as vain or self-absorbed and I wanted to step away from that and make people realize that it’s okay to want to feel beautiful and you can do it without being selfish.
5. What has been the most exciting part about growing your business?
The reaction! I’ve only started Lash Babe about a month ago and launched my website on the 1st of May but have already had multiple people reach out to me for different event or partnership ideas. This is exciting for me because it also means more exposure for Sistering and hopefully more opportunities for the women they support.
6. Being an entrepreneur is like being a student for life. What’s the biggest lesson you’ve learned about being your own boss?
To stop doubting myself! I’m in my own head a lot and I find that I put things off longer than I should out of fear and self doubt. Whenever I’ve had the courage to just push myself and put a part of myself out there I’ve gotten a positive response. When you work for yourself there’s no one to answer to but yourself and sometimes we tend to pick our work apart even more because of this. If you have an idea but you’re afraid to put it out there… just do it! It doesn’t need to be perfect and it doesn’t need to be 100% ready, you can fix it as you continue to grow and learn but you have to push yourself to start.
7. We love that the idea of “beauty with a purpose” is reflected in your partnership with Sistering, an organization for marginalized and at-risk women across Toronto. What does that partnership mean to you?
I have been searching for a way to give back that felt authentic and aligned with my core values for a while. I have always loved making women and people feel beautiful, and as I’ve become more educated on feminism I knew that I wanted to find an organization that focuses on empowering women. The majority of the world’s impoverished humans are women (and their children), most likely due to gender equality. I consider myself to be an intersectional feminist and choose to not advertise my services to only women, though I chose an organization FOR women because I believe we need to start by empowering all women which includes some of the most marginalized groups: women of colour/trans* women/indigenous women.
8. How do you #workit everyday?
I read – A LOT, I was never a strong reader until about a year and a half ago when I felt like I needed to get out of my head and make a change. I started reading a lot of entrepreneur and self help books, my favourite one being “The Introvert Entrepreneur”. As an introvert we’re often told that we’re too shy, we’re not leaders or that we’re weak and none of this is true! The book really helped me to hone in on my strengths. I’ve read about 10 books in the past year (I’m a slow reader) and every time I take notes – I create a vision board – I set goals and I follow up with these lists on a weekly and monthly basis to keep myself on track. Reading has really put me in to a more positive and productive mind set.
Photos provided by Leanna Da Cunha