Meet the 21-year-old Irish woman who went from being unable to afford food to owning a booming beauty business
Meet Thammy Nguyen, the 21-year-old eyelash queen who went from being unable to afford food to owning her own business and running two salons in Dublin.
Despite being one of the biggest names in the business, Thammy, who moved from Vietnam to Ireland in 2003 with her parents and brother, says her empire "happened by accident."
"I never planned it, it wasn’t something I ever wanted, it just happened. It’s so weird," she told Independent.ie. Thammy's business began three years ago when she received an eyelash starter kit as a present - and it all went from there.
"I don’t like beauty, I’m more into sports, but I’m a fast learner. I practiced doing eyelashes on my friends and then did a course and picked it up really quickly and started doing it at home.
"Then it spread through word of mouth – I never advertised until I started to do something different."
Before receiving the eyelash kit, Thammy, who lives in Clarehall, never had an interest in beauty, but instead spent her time weightlifting - and even made it to the World Championships for Ireland last year.
"I started weight lifting when I was 16 and loved it from the first day I went to the gym. My family have a background in sport, my brother went to the Euros for badminton. I was the first Irish girl to enter the weightlifting platform for Ireland as a junior. I used doing eyelashes to pay for trips to compete because there wasn’t much funding."
When her eyelash business began to take off after making a Facebook page in October 2016, Thammy had to decide between her two passions - and Thammy Lash won.
"I knew that eyelashes were what was going to put money in my purse for years to come," she said.
It was Thammy, who turned 21 just last week, and her family's difficult experience when they first moved to Ireland that planted the seed of motivation in her head.
"My parents don’t speak English. We moved here in 2003 when I was six or seven from Vietnam – and my parents still don’t have a word of English! My parents have a Chinese takeaway, so I was running the business since I was 15. I was translating for my parents since I was in senior infants, which I think is why I’m so mature now.
"They opened the Chinese in 2012 and, while I was still going out with my friends too, I was managing the takeaway, and I still do now from time to time, so I’ve pretty much two jobs.
"When my parents first came over, we were very poor.
"I came over with my dad and brother, and my mam came over the following year. It was a very hard time. My dad would go to work and I had no friends, no English.
"I pretty much minded myself since I was six. Sometimes we couldn’t even afford food.
"The only treat I’d ask for was a Kit Kat, because I knew what we could afford. My dad used to come on his bike to collect me and I remember thinking, ‘I don’t want to be like this.’ Now I can do whatever I want and I can’t believe everything I have now.
"My parents have never said that they’re proud of me, but I know they are."
One year on from making the Thammy Lash Facebook page, Thammy has two salons - one in Clarehall and one on Dorset St, - three staff and her own range of eyelash extensions, eyelash glue and eyelash remover. She also teaches sold-out eyelash extension courses once a month.
"I had an idea of how to be different and how to make my own brand stand out. I wasn’t going to advertise someone else’s eyelash brand. People travel from around the country to do my courses. It’s so weird!
"I’ve three staff now and we’re always busy.
"My average day starts with me training [in the gym] in the morning, coming back and doing eyelashes, then training again, and then going to college before work again. I’m studying Sports Science and PE, I want to be a teacher. I never studied beauty. I’ll finish my degree this year coming.
"When I was ordering my first set of lashes from a manufacturing company, I had to order 1000 trays. The normal curl is a ‘D’ curl, but I wanted a curl that is known for me. I don’t want to be the same as everyone else, and the girls who come to me want volume.
"I was missing 200 trays, so I asked the company for a DD curl, that has extra volume, and now I sell them all around Ireland. I’ve orders weekly, I go to the post office nearly every day. People from Canada, Australia and America want to try Thammy Lash – it’s so weird! The lashes come from Korea, they’re the best of the best."
Despite her success, Thammy said she can't believe the level she has achieved today.
"Even when I go on nights out, or when I went to Ibiza, I always meet my clients.
"I don’t like when people know who I am, it doesn’t feel real! It has expanded so much more than I expected. I’m just a normal girl who likes to talk to people. People say to me, ‘You’re doing so well,’ and I always tell them, ‘You could do it too!'
"I’m not good at hair or makeup, but I’m passionate about eyelashes and took every chance I could."
Thammy Lash will be at the Professional Beauty Show, RDS, Dublin on September 24 and 25 at stand E78, and at the Manchester Show at Manchester Central on October 22 and 23 at stand A54.
Visit Thammy Lash on Facebook here.