Velour Founder Mabel Lee Created a Line of Fake Lashes You Can Live In — Here’s HowJune 24, 2020
Before founding Velour, Mabel Lee wanted to live in false lashes. But all the options she tried were either too dramatic for an everyday look or simply not comfortable enough to wear around the clock. That’s why Lee decided to create her own line of false lashes. Velour offers fine mink and silk lashes that are cruelty-free, designed with longevity in mind (you can get up to 25 wears out of one pair!) and are perfect for anyone from a fake lash newbie to an everyday wearer. Ahead, we chatted with Lee about everything from being a young entrepreneur (she started Velour in college!) to what’s next for the brand.
You started Velour when you were still in college. How did the idea come about?
I started Velour as a passion project while I was in university in Toronto. I was obsessed with false lashes. They are like lipstick to me — I can’t leave the house without them! But I could never find lashes that looked natural enough or felt soft or comfortable enough for all-day wear. I was inspired to find the perfect pair of lashes and started sourcing different materials. This all started in my kitchen and, oh boy, we got creative. On the desperate hunt for the perfect false lash, we started thinking about different materials that we could use to create our luxury lash line. Our first discovery was using the hair on the back of our neck. It was the thinnest hair and mimicked natural lashes. When we started cutting it and tried gluing it on our lashes, we quickly realized that the key to great false lashes was in the material. Considering that we couldn't launch a line promoting false lashes made of neck hair (um, gross?!), we tested various natural materials including fox, horse and finally mink hair. When we landed on mink hair we knew this was it! But we needed to ensure everything was 100% cruelty-free. All our products are sourced from naturally-shed, recycled hair. Once we landed on the material - it took us about a year to develop the initial line of 11 styles.
That’s how Velour was born! I had friends create a website and started to sell Velour lashes at industry trade shows. From there, celebrity makeup artists, influencers and industry pros started to use Velour on celebs like Beyoncé and Meghan Markle. It just really took off from there! We never could have imagined that Velour would be where it is today. When we created Velour it was really for selfish needs. Initially, we were the customers of the product!
How did you distinguish yourself from other fake lashes on the market?
I am proud to say Velour was the first brand to launch luxury mink lashes and since launch, we've held ourselves to the highest standards and never compromised on quality. We create products that cater to everyone, from the CEO that wants a bit more of a natural volume lash ( Effortless Collection) to someone that wants that full glam and is ready for a night out (Fluff ‘N Glam Collection). With all the products we launch, our mission is to change the mindset of the consumer that you can live in lashes — it's not just for a special occasion.
How did you come up with the name for the line?
Fun fact: We were originally planning to name the business Velvet Lashes and right before incorporating, the word ‘velour’ came to mind. We changed the name right then and there before submitting our final documents. Velour was the perfect word as our products embody the softness and luxe material of velour.
What's next for your brand?
Velour was built on lashes. We dedicated years to solidifying our position as trusted leaders in high-quality false lashes. But we've always been thoughtful with our brand to ensure that when the time is right, we will carry that innovation to become leaders in eye-centric cosmetics. In 2020, our first non-lash product launched:Lash & Go Eyeliner, the first-ever eyeliner and lash adhesive hybrid. In a nutshell, it's a lash adhesive when wet, eyeliner when dry. It took us two years and 51 rounds to develop this formula. The feedback we've gotten so far has been incredible and this is just the beginning.
You were such a young entrepreneur. Do you have any advice for other young girls looking to start their own beauty line?
I started my Velour journey at the age of 21, I was definitely young! My biggest advice is to get ready to hustle and be willing to put your all into it. Don't expect others to do the job for you and put in the work to learn all aspects of your business. You'll also need to be willing to make sacrifices, especially at such a young age when all your friends are still out partying, dating and enjoying life. I chose to buckle down and invest 100% of my time into my business. It took some adjusting, but I don't regret it one bit. So if you are a young entrepreneur wanting to start your own business, go in with the understanding and acceptance that while it may look so cool and glamorous to be your own boss, the truth is that 99% of the time you are working your ass off. But I promise that it’s so worth it!
What's been the biggest challenge throughout this process?
My biggest challenge was finding my own style as a leader, while also learning to become a leader. They don't teach you that in school! It was really overwhelming for me trying to keep up with the pace of our business, while figuring out how to become a leader. What I've learned over the years is build your leadership team as soon as you can. Build a team around you so that they can help you keep up with the growth of your business, while learning together to grow as leaders.
What's been the biggest pinch-me-moment of your career?
Velour was a hobby to start, a passion project. When it started to take off, I was still in school. I decided to postpone my dream of becoming a lawyer and decided to work full-time building Velour. When I made that decision, I set a goal for myself that I would build the brand big enough that in five years' time, Sephora would pick up our brand. By year two of running the business, Sephora reached out to us and asked us to help them build the luxury lash space! It was a pinch-me-moment for sure!
Fill in the blanks.
My three desert island beauty products are:
Velour Lashes (Duh!), sunscreen (aging skin is my biggest fear!) and a brow pencil! I need to create a product to fix my brows because, hunny, they need a lot of help.
The best part about being my own boss is:
I've randomly met people and through conversation, we start chatting about makeup and suddenly they start raving about Velour and I surprise them and say, No way!! I created that brand! Best. Feeling. Ever.
A beauty trend I regret trying is:
I don't think this was a trend, but a regret I have was doing thick black eyeliner all around my eye (top and bottom). Not a good look.
To me, beauty means:
Embracing everything that makes you unique!