When Denise Welch decided to take an eyelash class, she just thought it would be something she would do as a hobby.
She took a break from her work in investments, and things went so well with her eyelash business that she decided to expand it and opened HKB Studio in Chelsea in early December.
“My sabbatical turned into this,” she said. “I’m used to taking something small and turning it into something bigger. I couldn’t just do lashes.
Welch took over the lease of the space when the previous owner left, and his business became a reality.
“I was here to work before and didn’t want to leave,” she said. “We gutted the place and redid it to give it a cheerful, fresh look. It’s very quiet here.
When choosing a name, she wanted it to be more than just a living room, so she opted for studio instead and added her husband’s chosen name, which features the initials of his three children: Hannah, Kemper and Bronx.
Welch has his lash business and three stylists and a barber also work in the studio. She recently hired another person to help her with lash appointments.
Stylists do the cuts and colors, while Welch takes care of the eyelashes, eyebrows and waxing. She said they almost exclusively use natural products in the studio, including sugar wax.
HKB Studio also offers items from local vendors including candles, jewelry, door hangers, charcuterie boards and more.
“I wanted to have some type of retail business, and instead of going out of state or ordering in bulk, I chose local vendors,” she said. “Everything sold very well.”
The charcuterie boards are made with locally sourced wood, the bath soaps and bath bombs are all natural, and the soy candles are made by the Shelby County Special Needs Community.
She said the community response has been overwhelming in a good way. Someone told her the parking lot was full over the holiday season, but she considers that a good problem to have. Welch said she and the stylists are all staying busy. She said the girls were more than happy and everyone was helping each other.
There is no gossip or negativity in the studio. She said she was blessed to have the stylists there. She likes the way things are going right now and will see where things go in the future.
“I’m so grateful that I decided to take a step back from what I normally do,” Welch said. “I was in a crazy job before and it’s really peaceful. It’s nice to get up every day and be your own boss.