When Julian Dean learned how to do eyelash extensions as a quick way to make money while he worked towards other dreams, he had no idea it would lead him to a lucrative career — owning his own business and ending up a hot topic on the Wendy Williams Show. Growing up in the Hollywood area in Los Angeles, he constantly had to defend his invitation to the cookout—assuring people that despite his light skin he was indeed Black. Just a precocious kid figuring out his identity, as soon as he got the opportunity he high-tailed it to New York.
For nearly five years, the blossoming lash expert worked his magic out of a tiny closet-like room at a brow grooming place near Union Square, while he pursued modeling and acting. As the desire for custom eyelash extensions grew, so did Dean’s customer base, and his skills.
“One day this one client was like, ‘You’re really good at this. You’re going to go far with this.’ I was like, ‘Really? Eyelashes? I’m just doing this because there’s good money.’”
Soon after, his friend (now business partner), Narissa Matheney, suggested they go into the lash business. He took the scary leap and The Lash Trap was born.
Still, the entrepreneur had no idea what was in store for his business. Fast forward six years to July 2019. The Lash Trap has locations in Los Angeles and New York, and the lash industry is booming. Then the 31-year-old businessman was spotted by paparazzi with Wendy Williams outside of his New York shop. Rumors swirled about whether or not the talk show host and Dean were dating.
For anyone who knows him, the idea was laughable—they’re not quite each other’s type. But for Dean it’s no laughing matter. Since Wendy cleared the rumors about who Dean really is during Hot Topics on her show, he’s busier than ever, fielding requests from new clients. Former clients Cassie, Eva Marcille, Kehlani, Elisa Johnson, and entrepreneur and Pose actress Angelica Ross will now have to share this rising star.
“Cheryl Joyner, the head of Sony, literally came in the next day. She said she saw the show,” he said. “My regular clients immediately started booking like months out in advance. And then the leftover slots, all these new people started to take.
But just being a celebrity lash artist isn’t where it ends for Dean. Even before this recent boost to his business, he was paying his success forward. He’s been teaching women of color how to apply lash extensions with the precision that he gives his clients. He wants to use his influence to inspire and empower women to be their own bosses. With this hand skill that he teaches them, they can fund and pursue other dreams, or work towards being entrepreneurs in their own right without conforming to the 9-5 culture.
“I’m really into teaching women of color a way for them to make money in the beauty industry and make other women feel good about themselves,” he said. “They just think it’s so cool, a trade to learn and have, and you could always make money off of it. And once you learn it, you could be your own boss. You could become whatever you want.”
Plans to expand The Lash Trap are certainly on the horizon for Julian and partner Narissa. Their Los Angeles location is just stores down from the late Nipsey Hussle’s The Marathon Clothing shop on Slauson Ave. So the focus is to train up a tight staff at the New York location, so that Dean can consider opening a new shop, keeping select private clients, and having a secondary store for everyone to have The Lash Trap experience.
“This is all new to me. So I really don’t know what to expect next. Literally, I was just lashing day-by-day and then when Wendy came, it kind of changed my whole perspective of where this could go,” he said.
While Wendy will always have his heart for putting him on the map in the way that she did, he’s got his eye on other big clients as he grows. He gushed when speaking about the strong Black women whose lashes he would want to get his hands on.
“Of course, Beyonce, Oprah, and Michelle Obama. In that order!” he joked.