Throughout history, ambitious mothers and daughters have gone into business together and built wildly successful brands — think of Naomi Judd and her daughters Wynonna and Ashley or Kris Jenner and her daughters Kyle, Kendall, Kim, Khloé and Kourtney. While each woman brings her own special talents to the table, it’s their collective strengths and business prowess that takes the brand to the next level.
Of course, there’s something extra special that happens when three generations of female family members come together to build a brand, as is the case with Deka Lash. When founder Jennifer Blair first conceived the business in 2011, she drew inspiration from her daughters, Demi and Karli, by taking the first two letters of each of their names (De and Ka) to create the word “Deka.” It just so happens that “deka” also means “10” in Greek — a number associated with the beauty industry and looking your best!
By 2016, Deka Lash’s four Pittsburgh locations were so popular, that Jennifer and her husband, Michael, who serves as the company’s CEO, knew it was time to expand nationwide. Now, with 50 franchise locations open around the United States — and a goal of reaching 300 studios in the next three years — there’s more work to be done than ever before. As luck would have it, Jennifer didn’t have to look very far to find the help she needed.
By age of 13, Jennifer’s first-born, Demi, had a vision of her future being in the beauty industry — so it was no surprise to Jennifer when she announced that cosmetology school was her plan upon high school graduation. The timing couldn’t have been better, as this coincided with the 2016 expansion of the business.
Demi now works in the service side of our business, as a cosmetologist and Lash Artist at the Pittsburgh locations. “Now I’m 21 and working in my family-owned business is the most surreal thing,” she says. “My mom was a huge inspiration to me, she worked really hard and I love the fact that I can follow in her footsteps.”
Demi’s younger sister, Karli, plans to follow their father’s path — the business side of Deka Lash is where she’s eager to contribute. “After I graduate West Virginia University with a bachelor’s degree in business, I plan to be very involved in my family’s business,” she explains. “My goal is to use the knowledge I’ve gained from college and help Deka Lash thrive and grow larger than ever.”
Until then, she works part time in the customer service center, learning the ins and outs of the business. “It’s extremely motivating to see women work together and empower each other to feel better by doing things that make themselves feel beautiful,” she says. “Plus, seeing your family grow and succeed together is also very motivating.”
Last, but certainly not least, Jennifer’s mother, Cyndy, rounds out the female lineage to make Deka Lash a three-generation family business. Her role? Helping out with human resources activities, such as hiring on the corporate side and providing support to franchisees. She also helps hire Lash Artists for the two local studios Jennifer and Michael still own in Pittsburgh.
“My mother has been my rock since the beginning,” says Jennifer. “When I started Deka Lash, I was a busy mother of four kids, and she was instrumental to helping me juggle everything. She watched the kids when she could and was a huge source of support when I was working crazy hours trying to get the business off the ground. She was right beside me the whole time, and still is.”
Cyndy finds it incredibly rewarding to work closely with her family and enjoys the sense of accomplishment both personally and professionally. “This work is worthwhile and gratifying,” she says. “As women, we support and help to empower other women to be successful in a business we are very passionate about. And I get to spend time with my daughter and granddaughters.”
Jennifer and Michael have two younger children who aren’t yet old enough to be involved with the business — time will tell if they join in their sisters’, mother’s and grandmother’s footsteps.