The Rebels, The Sinners, The Misunderstood – Q&A, Leah Shoats, Founder & Owner of Harlot

  • Published on:
    September 17, 2020
  • Reading time by:
    4 minutes

I created my brand – Harlot

”I’ve always known deep in my soul that I was meant to create something that would stir people to their core. Whether that was through art, writing, makeup, etc. I wanted to create a company that was bold, stood for something, and gave passionate free spirits the chance to express themselves without any judgment. Two years ago, I created Taboo Beauty LLC and by the end of 2018, I created my brand – Harlot.

I’ve always loved the beauty industry. It gives creatives the opportunity to showcase “live art” and transform how we perceive what “beauty” means. The industry is evolving, and incredible artists are showcasing up from all over the world. I get goosebumps thinking that my products will have a part to play in that transformation.” Leah Shoats, Founder & Owner of Harlot.

The Rebels, the sinners, the misunderstood

Harlot is an independent beauty brand started in 2019 by a passionate group of free spirits who offer beauty lovers, enthusiasts, and makeup artists exclusive 3D mink, faux mink, and synthetic false eyelashes. Harlot’s aspiration is to provide on-trend styles that arouse creativity and make everyone who wears them feel beautiful.

Harlot’s are proud to be the rebels, the sinners, the misunderstood—the outsiders. They applaud all the bad asses who give zero fu©#$ what people think about their lifestyle. 

‘’We embrace different and recognize true beauty. We live in our truth and stand in our power. We are smart, sophisticated, wild and driven. We are Harlots. Bad has never looked so good.’’

Tell us about the challenges your business?

Timing and alignment are everything. I knew I was entering an industry with a high barrier to market and one of the ways to stand out is creating a compelling brand story that people trust and believe in. Harlot goes deeper than just lashes. We want people to forge their own paths and feel fabulous while doing it.

There is no way to bypass hard work. The process and daily grind are where you find your grit, drive, and passion to succeed. I send my affirmations out and focus on what I can do and know everything is working out the way it’s supposed to.

What inspired you to create Harlot?

Lashes have always been a passion of mine, so it was natural for me to produce high-quality styles that would appeal to anyone.

I wanted to offer beauty lovers, enthusiasts, and makeup artists exclusive on-trend reusable 3D mink, faux mink, and synthetic false eyelash styles that arouse creativity and make everyone who wears them feel beautiful and empowered. We have seven styles available: Jezabelle, Tart, Courtesan, Madame, Provocateur, Strumpet, and La Femme.

Historically the word Harlot was used in a negative connotation and was directly rooted to prostitution. In the 18th century, (primarily) women but also men who did not come from high society or marry into wealth were left to survive in the toughest of circumstances. Many of them turned to unthinkable ways to make a living. The more and more I learned about some of these women, I didn’t see an offensive person. I saw smart, business savvy, sexually empowered individuals who turned their circumstances into power. Many of these courtesans were statements of wealth, accompanied powerful men in public, shaped politics, fashion, and earned their independence.

Right or wrong these individuals were strong and turned their unfortunate beginnings into financial independence. Lashes are just the cherry on top. When you embrace your power and accept yourself that’s a true beauty.

What is your favorite Harlot product and why? 

I love all our styles! It’s almost impossible to choose. I wear each style and appreciate the differences between them. 

One change I am making soon, we will not be offering mink lashes moving forward. We’re currently getting the mink lashes out of stock and will only be offering synthetic, faux mink or silk lashes. 

What’s your best beauty tip?

Understand and realize that true beauty comes from within. When you accept yourself for who you are and realize that you’re at the right place, at the right time, and under the right circumstances— things will start to shift. When you vibrate at a high frequency … you align. That’s sexy and the best beauty tip I can give anyone. 

“What would be your ultimate tip for false lash wearers?”

Always measure false lashes before you glue them on. Follow the golden rule, measure twice, cut once. You can cut on either end it really depends on the look you’re going for. If you do not measure that’s when lashes can be extremely uncomfortable to wear and you might experience one of the ends poking or irritating your eyelid. Apply a thin layer of glue, I like the Ardell fast-drying glue in the tube with the brush applicator. Let the glue set for about 30 to 45 seconds and then apply. 

Advice for other entrepreneurs who want to get started or are just starting out?

The entrepreneurial road is not straight and narrow, it certainly has its ups and downs. My biggest motivation is to create a company that disrupts the industry. Shake things up. My end goal has not changed. However, my approach has become more flexible. We’re all guilty of mapping out “how things are going to happen,” the challenge with that is life isn’t linear. There are so many things outliers that you can’t control, so rather than get upset and lose sight of the bigger picture I try to remain calm, stay centered, and focus on how I respond.

There are millions of resources available to teach you how to start, run, and grow a business. Educating yourself is key, but someone else’s success and struggles may not be your experiences. At the end of the day, it’s about the lessons you learn from each situation.

I’m learning so much about myself and my abilities. That has been an incredible experience.

At what point did you know you it was the right time to work for yourself? 

I’ve always known that I’ve wanted to work for myself. Working in a corporate environment has given me so much experience, understanding the importance of being accountable, having the discipline, and seeing the bigger picture. Deep down if you feel there is something bigger out there and you want to contribute to the masses, that’s a sign you’re an entrepreneur. I trusted that gut feeling and my intuition. 

Busy startup entrepreneurs have lots of demands on their time and are often pulled in lots of different directions, do you have any tips for effective time management and what to focus on first?

What has been helpful is to think ahead. I typically create content a week or two ahead of time and schedule everything on social media so I’m not trying to remember to post everyday. I also highly recommend pitching directly to potential content creators and media outlets to get your brand out there. Do your research and see how potential influencers angle their content and positioning details.

If you’re proactive and are always working on your brand and expanding the products that are key for exposure. I also wear my lashes all the time. I look at myself as a walking billboard for my brand and if I get asked by someone about my products I hand them a business card.

How do you stay motivated?

Some big influencers have taken notice of the Harlot brand and they’ve been fantastic partners and sharing our styles to their audience. That’s been extremely motivating that content creators are supporting our ethos and recognizing that our brand is about empowerment and positivity. Every time someone purchases our lashes, I’m incredibly grateful and honored that they choose Harlot over many other great brands out there. 

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