Wilson fashionistas find passions, found businesses

Courtesy of Madison VanEyken

Madelyn Shapiro

With hopes of selling unique, quality, and sustainable products, several Wilson students have started their own businesses. These entrepreneurs have created Instagram pages and websites to help gain customers throughout the DMV. 

Braxi Lashes

Courtesy of Madison VanEyken










When senior Madison VanEyken got her first set of eyelash extensions, she was immediately influenced by the lash technician. “I was like, this is inspiring… I think I can do this.” VanEyken became a certified lash technician in January, and spent months practicing on mannequins.

In April, VanEyken recruited her friends, seniors Keymiah Armstrong, Sofia Suardi, and Helisa Cruz, to model in a photoshoot for her three types of lashes. During the photoshoot, VanEyken said, “That was the day that I knew, ‘wow, this can be something.’ And from that day, the brand was always in my mind.”

After seeing how well the lashes represented each of her friends’ personalities and styles, VanEyken decided to name each of the lashes after the models. “Keymiah is the color one, Sofia is the classic one, and Helisa is the glitter one,” she explained.

VanEyken then set about creating her business. She decided that, instead of being a lash technician, she wanted to sell her handmade lash strips. Each lash can be worn 10-15 times with proper care and range from $10 to $14. 

To sell her lashes, VanEyken created her website, braxilashes.com, which launched on August 17. “I’ve been working non-stop, and I just pray that my hard work pays off,” she said. 

One person that VanEyken credits for his aide in starting her business is teacher Anthony Evans, who teaches Entrepreneurship. “I don’t know where I’d be without Mr. Evans… I didn’t know business required all this thinking! So I took the things we learned in class and put it into my brand.” 

In the future, VanEyken hopes to start a summer camp where she teaches kids how to make eyelash strips and about entrepreneurial skills, as well as how to pursue a career in fashion journalism at the Fashion Institute of Technology. “I hope that students are inspired and that they start their own businesses too. It’s so rewarding too, like man, I did all this hard work.”


Lengths by SkyeLaila

Courtesy of Lengths by Skyelaila











“I’ve always had a love for fashion and beauty, I see it as another visual art form,” said senior Skye Irving, founder of Lengths by SkyeLaila. Her new business specializes in luxury hair and beauty products.

Irving’s current focus is on hair extensions, with offerings of Brazillian and virgin Indian hair from lengths of 10 to 32 inches. She purchases the hair from a manufacturer, and then customers go to professionals to get it installed. 

“[There have] been so many challenges, especially because my field of business is quality and opinion based,” Irving said. “To overcome them it just takes persistence and drive for what you are doing.”

Thus, having quality products is of the utmost importance for Irving. She runs several tests on the hair before selling it, to ensure that it meets certain standards. “I’ve always valued quality products, so I wanted to bring luxury products to a younger age demographic,” Irving explained. 

Irving comes from a family of entrepreneurs. Both of her parents own their own businesses, so running her own business is “kind of like a second nature” to her. One of her goals is to “inspire young people to see themselves as owners, producers, and icons.” 

After months of planning, Irving launched her comprehensive website on June 2 to sell her hair extensions, complete with customer testimonials and hair care tips. At the moment, her focus is on “expanding sales… and making sure we are bringing the best quality to our customers.”

Similar to VanEyken, Irving also employed lessons from Evans’ Entrepreneurship class. “If you listen to what he says and apply it to your company, it’s super helpful,” Irving said. 

To attract more customers, Irving has been using sales, giveaways, and social media marketing on Instagram. She plans on posting a video to her website detailing how to care for the hair extensions. Later on, she hopes to extend her business to selling hair products like bonnets and brushes. 

She hopes to eventually grow her business into a multi-million dollar company. “Forever is the plan,” Irving said. 

“I love owning my business because I have full creative direction over everything,” Irving said. “[If you want to start a business], my advice would be just do [it]. Start now, this is the time to make mistakes and figure it all out.”



Courtesy of ThriftsForU












“The future of fashion, made from pieces of the past” is the mission statement of new clothing business ThriftsForU. Created this past spring by seniors Sofia Bazoberry and Lexi Brown, ThriftsForU offers both clothing bundles and single buys of thrifted clothing. 

The idea to create thrifted outfits came from internet personality iGirl, who is known for her Depop clothing business where she sells vintage clothes. 

Bazoberry and Brown both emphasized the benefits of thrifting in terms of both sustainability and originality. “Textile waste is [one of the] most polluting [industries] in the world… but it doesn’t have to be that way, because we’re wasting so much fabric,” Brown explained. Additionally, “you find a lot of unique t-shirts that you won’t see other people wearing,” Bazoberry said. 

ThriftsForU caters to a wide variety of styles, with bundle options like e-girl, punk, and mean girls. After selecting their bundle, customers fill out a survey detailing their sizing and style preferences. “Sizing is so important, and everything has fit pretty well,” said Bazoberry. “It’s a really great feeling when people like what you give them.” 

Every weekend, Bazoberry and Brown go to thrift stores to pick out the pieces. Before going to the stores, they put together a list of specific items that they are looking for. “We have the ideas in our head… which makes it easier and less time consuming,” Bazoberry explained. They then package the clothing and drive to people’s houses to deliver them. 

Currently, the entire business is run through Instagram, with customers direct messaging the account @ThriftsForU to make orders. To help spread awareness, Bazoberry and Brown have been encouraging their patrons to post pictures wearing the clothes from their bundles. “Social media is just such a good tool. Our friends have been really supportive so they’ve been sharing, reposting,” Brown said. 

Future plans for the business include creating a website, expanding their platform to outside of the DMV, and making decorative stickers to make the packaging look better. They have also been participating in several pop-up shops, with their next event being September 14 at the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts from 1:00-4:00 p.m.