Two creative eyelash sets done by Paola Brito. Photo: Zero Mckenzi. Courtesy: PaoArtistry

Paola Brito loves being a business owner but admits this wasn’t in her plans.

“I didn’t have the typical business startup story,” says Brito, a 25-year-old Dominican woman born and raised in the Bronx. “I actually didn’t have this in mind for myself at all just because I know how hard it is to start a business, and I know this is very tedious, so I didn’t think I was capable.”

Yet through a sudden burst of entrepreneurial spirit and the push from her mother and close friends, Brito transformed a newfound passion into a business plan and then into a legitimate business—and she hasn’t looked back since.

In August 2022, Brito left behind the comfort and security of being a W-2 employee and founded PaoArtistry, a beauty and cosmetic business that provides various lash extension services.

Before she started doing lashes herself, one could always catch Brito with a fresh set of lashes done by her former lash tech. Then one day, she asked Brito if she’d like to learn to do lashes for free. Brito, who was a retail supervisor at the time, took her up on the offer and started learning the craft on the side whenever her schedule permitted. Soon enough, Brito wound up leaving her role as a retail supervisor, and took full advantage of the new free time. 

“I was having all this free time—and something was telling me to just start [taking it seriously],” says Brito. But she couldn’t start without any clients, so she “begged” her friends to let her use them for practice. Up to that point, all her practice had been on a cosmetic doll head. While on a trip to Florida, one of her friends obliged and Brito got her first customer. “It took me like five hours,” she recalls. “But when I saw the results, I was like, ‘Oh wait, I’m actually pretty good.’”

Francy “French” Bernard with a fresh set done by Brito. Photo: PaoArtistry

Brito did her second set of lashes on Francy Bernard, a close friend with a big social media following under the handle @, and this particular set catapulted her career. “I did that set [on Bernard], and it came out crazy, like, it was so good,” recalls Brito. “Then “French” decided to post me. I wasn’t ready to take other [clients] yet, but because of her following, it kind of flooded. So, I had to get started. Basically, I was pushed into it.”

This wasn’t the first time French got her lashes done, but she says it was the first time she was 100% in love with them. “Paola did them and they came out so good. I literally loved them so much,” says Bernard. “As soon as she believed in herself and took that leap of faith, I instantly saw a change in her character, she felt lighter. Having that passion is the biggest thing, because everything else will fall into place when it’s supposed to. I feel like that’s what happened to her.”

For some time, until October 2023, Brito worked comfortably out of a shared studio space with the woman who taught her. But as Brito started to build a solid clientele, she says she felt that she needed to push herself. For Brito, that meant getting her own studio. And that meant accepting more responsibility and, of course, higher rent costs—realities that stirred skepticism. “But I’m like, ‘I can do it, I know I can do it,’” says Brito, and her mother echoed those same sentiments. By November 1st, she had her own studio.

Paola Brito, founder of PaoArtistry, before kicking off her lash course. Photo: PaoArtistry

When you walk through the door of PaoArtistry, a welcoming aura fills the minimally decorated room. The sun peeks through the window, naturally lighting the spacious studio furnished with a cozy lash recliner on top of a faux cowhide rug, a cart with Brito’s supplies, a full body mirror, a clean white storage cabinet, a television mounted to the wall and a handful of small decorative items. Brito’s attention to detail sets her apart from the growing field of lash technicians, and her studio space reflects that.

Then again, she doesn’t consider herself a lash technician; she says she’s a “lash artist.”

“I feel like lash technicians don’t really alter the sets to complement the girls’ eyes or facial features. As a lash artist, that’s going through my mind at all times,” says Brito. “The minute a girl enters my room, I’m looking at all the factors like where her eyebrows meet, where her eyebrows start, how big her eyes are… I think it’s just taking that extra little step to make every client feel as if this set was designed for them [specifically].”

Bernard says what sets Brito apart from other people who do lashes is the experience she builds for her customers. “She goes off the vibe of the person whose lashes she’s doing,” says Bernard. “Some days I come in and just want to relax and listen to music, and we do that. Other days I come in, we can chat and talk, and by the time we’re done talking, she’s done with the lashes.”

Brito taps into her creativity in every facet of her business, not just when she’s doing lashes. When she’s in between appointments, she’s always creating TikToks, Instagram reels, or marketing campaigns. She was 16 when she started working and earning her own money. Almost ten years later, she’s transparent in saying running her own business is “harder than having a regular nine-to-five.” She says the idea of never having to work again was the driving force behind her entrepreneurial pursuit; ironically, she’s now working harder than ever before. 

The PaoArtisty studio in the Bronx. Photo: PaoArtistry

“I’m still to this day trying to figure it out. It’s not easy; it’s a lot of pressure,” she says. In the same breath, she says she wouldn’t have it any other way. She’s proud of her progress as a lash artist but isn’t satisfied. She has aspirations of expanding her services and reach. 

A big part of expanding her reach is leaning into her responsibility as a role model for young girls and women of color who desire to embark on entrepreneurship. “When it comes to any young women who are interested in taking charge of their lives and working for themselves, just do it,” says Brito. “There’s no point in waiting around. It’s life; you might as well put yourself out there because you never know what could come out of it.”

Aside from the different lash sets and services that Brito offers, she also offers in-depth beginner courses for those looking to learn how to do lashes.

Location: PaoArtistry is located in the Bronx (exact address sent upon appointment confirmation).

Hours: open Wednesday through Saturday by appointment only.

To learn more about PaoArtistry, inquire about the services provided or get a consultation, reach out via or .

Check out more of our small business stories here.

Curtis Rowser III is a Brooklyn-based writer and digital media creator. He recently earned a master’s degree in Sports Industry Management from Georgetown University and is currently completing his master’s...

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