How Two Women Made Over Westchester's Beauty Scene

Megan Ryan was in her 20s and living in Manhattan when the eyelash craze swept the beauty industry. Latisse, the first FDA-approved treatment for strengthening and lengthening lashes, hit the market in 2009. Many similar formulas emerged soon after. But, for Ryan, eyelash extensions were her solution to the problem. However, the one-hour application service could cost between $150 and $200.

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Photos courtesy of Meg-a-Lashes

Kristy Lynn Rotonde (left) and Megan Ryan (right) are rapidly becoming matriarchs of the county’s beauty-shop scene. 

“I would get my lashes done every two weeks and saw people were making a fortune,” she says. The Dobbs Ferry native soon realized she could turn her bi-weekly beauty habit into a cash cow by launching her own lash-shop, Meg-a-Lashes, near her hometown.   

“Westchester didn’t have anything like it,” she says. But at the time she was struggling to make ends meet, holding multiple jobs in bartending and interior decorating. “It was hard to make money in the city because I was facing a ton of competition in a bunch of jobs,” recalls Ryan. To make matters worse, she was going through hard times, including a difficult breakup and the passing of her grandmother on Christmas Eve.

To get Meg-a-Lashes off the ground, Ryan decided to move back into her mother’s house to save money. While she graduated from the Westchester BOCES cosmetology program as a teen, she decided to take new classes in eyelash applications. Lash by lash, she began to build her business. “It took a lot of hard work because I put all my focus into it,” Ryan says.

 

Blown Away By a Friend’s Support

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Meanwhile, another beauty craze was in the works: super sleek, blow-dried hair. Drybar, a blowout salon chain founded in 2010, paved the way, and has since grown into a $100 million business with a location set to open this fall in White Plains. In 2011, Kristy Lynn Rotonde capitalized on the trend by launching PLUSHBLOW in Rye. It was one of four local salons ran by her and her then-husband.

“Blow-dry bars have become like affordable luxury for working moms or everyday girls,” explains Rotonde. Blowouts can cost between $35 and $45 depending on hair length, and Rotonde affirms that, “It makes it easier for [women] to get ready for a date or job interview.”

As it happens, Ryan and Rotonde attended cosmetology school together and had been friends since they were 15. After bumping into each other one day and catching up, Rotonde suggested Ryan rent space at her Plush Salon in White Plains (which has since closed). Meg-a-Lashes’ new brick-and-mortar presence quickly helped Ryan build clientele.

 

Resilient Beauties

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After a few years in business, Rotonde and her husband divorced, forcing her to shutdown Plush Salon (three PLUSHBLOW locations are still open in White Plains, Rye, and Scarsdale) . Despite the major setback, both beauty entrepreneurs decided to keep pushing forward. “I needed her as much as she needed me,” says Ryan. “We both were going through hard times, so we had one another to lean on.”

Four months ago, the pair of entrepreneurs found two vacant retail spaces neighboring each other on Mamaroneck Avenue in White Plains, joining other women-owned entrepreneurial businesses on the busy strip including Lola New York (a clothing boutique) and Araras (a Brazilian coffee shop). “We both signed our lease the same day,” Ryan beams, adding that she’s thankful for all of Rotonde’s small-business advice along the way, including the importance of running one sans partner.

“She told me to do it alone, especially after what she just went through,” says Ryan. “So that’s what I did.” Today, Meg-a-Lashes has 500 clients and is booked up to three weeks in advance. “It’s becoming a one-stop beauty shop,” Ryan boasts of their stretch of Mamaroneck Ave. “We’re always supporting each other’s stores or referring clients to each other,” she continues. “It’s so cute!”

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