Story and photo by Keri DeTore
Reporting for West Seattle Blog
If you take a chance on your dream – it just might come true.
West Seattle newcomer and Eyelash Jewelry entrepreneur Natalie Russo can vouch for that.
She has created a product so successful, she’s been able to quit a full-time job to concentrate on filling online orders for her designs…
“I forget that I have (the lashes) on,” says Russo, “I’ll notice that people are staring at my face and I wonder, ‘Is there something on my face?’”
Yes, there is something on her face — bejeweled, feathered, beaded and colorful false eyelashes that take eye decoration to a whole new level.
Russo has taken her “experimental” and “extreme” makeup ideas from “gluing stuff onto my face” to finding a wearable art niche in a population of customers that includes performers, costumers, drag queens, ravers, and just about anyone looking to add splash to a Halloween costume or a party outfit.
Demand for the Eyelash Jewelry has become so great, thanks to recent publicity on sites including MTV.com, that Russo recently quit her full-time job to focus exclusively on creating her jewelry.
She works out of her home studio in West Seattle and as of this writing, she was “down to” 17 orders to fill. “That’s down from 50,” she says with relief, “I never thought 17 would seem like a small number!”
She makes all the pieces by hand, which is painstaking and takes patience; designing, assembling and shipping takes a couple of hours per pair. Asked about her design process, Russo says, “Whenever I stop to think, ‘what will people buy?’ the design fails. When I just play with it, it’s a hit.” She will be adding new designs to her Etsy page: and is planning to offer more holiday-specific designs.
The lashes are attached to the eyelids using regular false eyelash glue available in stores. Asked whether the jewelry is irritating in any way, Russo says she’s never had anything fall apart or been uncomfortable in them in any way. “These are a make-up product, not a health product. Some people are allergic to the eyelash glue and that can be an issue.” She removes the eyelashes before going to sleep at night, and because she has such a wide variety, selecting her Eyelash Jewelry is simply part of coordinating her daily outfit.
When wearing the lashes in public, Russo says reaction ranges from people who “get it” and enjoy them to those who get “freaked out.” “There’s more of an art scene here in Seattle, than in rural Vermont (where she moved from.) The difference is amazing. These are my kind of people here and it feels like home.”
She’ll be sticking to selling the jewelry through her Etsy store for now and envisions adding lower-lash jewelry to her offerings. She’ll also be continuing to figure out international shipping costs as orders come in from overseas – including Australia, Israel, Brazil, even Saudi Arabia.
(You can get a closer look at Natalie Russo’s creations on her Pinterest page.)