Lauren Lucas went from working 90 hours a week in corporate America to running her own lash extension business 35 hours a week out of a small storefront in Bellefonte.
The Milwaukee, Wisconsin native is the latest in a series of business owners helping revitalize downtown Bellefonte by embracing entrepreneurship and filling previously empty storefronts in the historic district.
“Bellefonte has flourished so much in the past couple of years,” Lucas said. “I’d just love to be a part of making it flourish more. Something that’s bigger than just the services that I do, like being a part of really revitalizing the community.”
In the past two years, a trove of female-owned businesses have opened storefronts in downtown Bellefonte — Lydia Shafer Photography, The Cakery, Hello Social Co., High Street Tattoo, Art A La Carte and Erin Carey Florals, to name a few.
Winged Beauty Studio, located at 120 W. Bishop St., is a cozy addition to the downtown smattering of restaurants, antique and thrift shops, hair studios and other specialty shops.
When Lucas moved to the area in 2016, she realized there was no place to get her lashes done, a beauty practice that was very popular in her home city. With 10 years of cosmetology training under her belt, Lucas decided to transfer her license to Pennsylvania so she could start doing lashes in addition to hair.
But in the midst of that, “I turned 26 and needed health insurance.” She dropped it all and went to a State College financial services company, where she worked at as a receptionist during the day.
In the evenings and on weekends, she would do lashes through the Taylor McKenzie Beauty Bar, which does facial, brow and waxing treatments. During wedding season, she would do hair and lashes on the weekends. All in all, her working hours clocked in at about 90 per week.
The lash treatments took off so much at the TM Beauty Bar that things got “overwhelming,” she said. Lucas decided to start her own business, but Pennsylvania law did not permit her to run her business out of the same space as another.
“In order for me to continue running my business, I had to do my own storefront,” she said. Laughing, she added: “It wasn’t really like I chose to be a business owner, it was more like it chose me.”
But the transition has been smoother than she expected, she said. Most of her business operates off word of mouth, and as a member of the Local Girl Gang — a women’s entrepreneur support network — her clientele and outside collaborations have grown.
Many girl gang business owners have storefronts in downtown Bellefonte, and, Lucas said, “It’s been really cool just to step up and be a part of the community and be a face that people know and they can stop in and say hi any time.”
For Lucas, the storefront she opened in mid-July has also afforded her more freedom to set her schedule and develop her bridal services. She offers a mobile bridal package that includes hair, makeup and lash extensions for your wedding day. She also collaborates with other vendors on styled photo shoots that market different bridal services.
“I love the bridal community, it’s so great, the vendors are just phenomenal,” she said. “And the market in this area is ridiculous for bridal, because everyone comes back to get married in the area.”
When a customer comes into Winged Beauty, Lucas wants “to make women feel as confident and beautiful as they already are.”
“I want to be the person that you go to that makes you know you are beautiful,” she said. “You can find a girlfriend in me and you can find some confidence when you leave here, and you’ll feel better when you left than you did when you came in.”
Winged Beauty Studio at 120 W. Bishop St. is open Tuesday through Saturday 1-8 p.m. by appointment. To book or inquire about services, visit wingedbeautystudio.com.