Have you ever gotten up in the morning, looked at yourself in the mirror, and thought to yourself, "Man, I would be a helluvah lot cooler if I had some tiny baby farm animals--or maybe some miniature cupcakes--protruding from my eyelids"? Of course you have. We've all been there. And now finally there's a solution: Eyelash jewelry, by way of Etsy seller Natalie Russo.
Russo isn't hocking your typical fancy faux lashes. The 21-year-old Washingtonian by way of Vermont creates absurdly intricate, custom-made, re-wearable art, tailored specifically to the eyelid. Each pair of eyelash jewelry is made to order, and most cost under $30. Her craft may not seem like something your jewelry stand or stash of festive falsies is lacking, but with a 100% positive feedback rating from 250 satisfied customers and counting, Russo's clearly onto something.
We caught up with Russo to get the scoop on what inspired her to create eyelash jewelry in the first place, and whether she thinks pimped out eyelids could explode a la nail art.
Where did you come up with the idea for eyelash jewelry? Natalie Russo: Eyelash jewelry was a product I wanted but couldn't find. I hated spending money on false eyelashes just to throw them away when they inevitably wore out. I was inspired by nail art and Japanese decora fashion. I saw girls with clusters of gems glued to their eyes and thought, "There has to be an easier way."
How long have you been creating them? My 18th birthday wish was to start a business. I'm 21 and have been doing this for about three years.
How long does the average pair take you to make? What was the longest you've ever worked on a pair? The simplest pairs take 15-20 minutes. The most intricate can take a full week. Most of that time is spent allowing glue to dry before adding more feathers. Once in a while I'll have a glue disaster and have to start all over again.
Has there ever been a style that's proven too difficult to make or wear? Yes, I scrap plenty of designs that prove too difficult to wear. If I can't walk down the street wearing a specific design, it doesn't make it onto the website.
What was your favorite pair you've ever made? My favorite pair are a set of neon rainbow feather lashes. Not just the design but the pair itself. I've worn them out so many times. Once, they stayed on for hours while I sat in a hot tub. It might sound crazy, but they're like an old comfy pair of shoes. They're like a part of me.
How often do you get custom orders? I get at least one custom request every day. It's always exciting and flattering when someone wants me to help make their vision a reality. Unfortunately, I don't have time to take on most of the requests I get.
What types of occasions do you envision people wearing your creations for? A lot of my customers are performers who need sturdy lashes to wear onstage. People also buy eyelash jewelry for specific events, like themed parties and raves. I'd love to live in a world where people felt free to dress however they wanted at any time, so the customers closest to my heart are the ones who wear my product as everyday fashion.
Do you think eyelash art could become as popular as nail art? A few of my customers have sent me pictures of eyelash jewelry that they have made. That gives me hope that eyelash art could catch on the way nail art has.
Have you thought about taking your product more mainstream or do you prefer the personal interaction that comes with Etsy? The one thing stopping me from going "mainstream" is that I still craft each set of eyelash jewelry by hand. My ideal situation would be a team of skilled craftsmen working on my pre-made designs, while I took on custom requests. I don't see that happening anytime soon, though, so for now I am thrilled to have the personal connections and sense of community I have found on Etsy.