"We're such a glam society now," says Lilly Ghalichi-Mir. And she should know. The 35-year-old former Shahs of Sunset star and beauty entrepreneur has been among the earliest adopters of "more is more" trends in hair, makeup and lashes. And since 2013, the year she launched her own line of false lashes, Lilly Lashes, Ghalichi-Mir has cemented her status as an Instagram-era lash guru who counts celebrities like Kim Kardashian, Lady Gaga and Cardi B as adherents.
Ghalichi-Mir grew up in a Persian family based in Houston, TX and originally studied business at the University of Texas before getting a law degree and becoming a licensed Attorney in the State of California. But working as a lawyer in LA, she felt unhappy. "I hated my life," she says. "[Law] is a very male-dominated profession and it's not a profession that encourages creativity or glam. I was constantly asked to tone it down — don't wear makeup, put my hair in a low pony, wear more loose-fitting clothes. [The firm] basically wanted me to show up looking like a hanger and go into court. And for someone like me who really expresses their personality through hair, makeup and fashion, it was very unfulfilling."
After two months, she says she looked herself in the mirror one day and said, "I'm young, I'm single, I don't have children, I don't have a husband. I have nothing to lose." She left the firm and started her own "lingerie-inspired" swimwear line, which she called Swimgerie, and created her own fashion and beauty blog. "I gave myself three years and if I couldn't support myself in three years, I could always go back to practicing law," Ghalichi-Mir says.
It wasn't long before Bravo producers reached out to her after discovering the blog and signed Ghalichi-Mir on for two seasons of Shahs of Sunset in 2012, where the seeds for Lilly Lashes were planted. Ghalichi-Mir recalls how she and her makeup artist, Ariel Tejada, would struggle to get the lashes she wanted just right. They would "stack three or four pairs of human hair lashes and spend 45 minutes in glam — just on lashes! We'd be cutting them, gluing one strip, letting it dry, gluing another. And I just thought there had to be a better way."
She says she started doing some research and found a few companies overseas that could help produce lashes. She and Tejada spent two weeks cutting and gluing lashes to create different styles before sending them to one of the factories to get produced. But at first, she recalls being nervous that the lashes would be too dramatic for most people. She remembers thinking, "Are people going to like these? Are there people out there as outrageous as me?" But clearly Ghalichi-Mir hit a spot in the market that had yet to be tapped. "I realized that there was such a need in the market for girls to want super glamorous lashes that still looked natural and that didn't look Halloween," she says.
After posting about the launch on her Instagram and blog, the first batch sold out within the first 20 minutes. Since then, Ghalichi-Mir has gone beyond lashes, creating a hair extension partnership with Bellami Hair that she says had a similar origin story. "We were buying 3 or 4 packs of hair to get the length that I wanted, the volume that I wanted — the big hair that I wanted. So, I partnered with Bellami hair, which was one of the brands that I was buying to develop at that time the thickest set of hair extensions that ever existed at 270 grams."
She attributes her success partly to changing times and people like Kim Kardashian normalizing glam. People are no longer afraid of expressing themselves through hair, makeup and fashion, she says. "I think [Kim] doesn't get enough credit in the glam community... She glamorized having a makeup artist, having a hair stylist, being fabulous. And I just happened to be one of the early people on Instagram that sort of followed in that lead."
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Ghalichi-Mir describes her early supporters being primarily made up of the LGBTQ community and describes the deep connection she feels with them along with segments of the community's longstanding embrace of glam. "I just loved that! That is sort of what I emulated as a straight woman in a time when it wasn't really done," she says.
Most recently, Ghalichi-Mir has launched a new collection inspired by her pregnancy and upcoming delivery. The new "Living my Best Life" collection includes the MILF lash that Ghalichi-Mir plans to wear during her delivery. "I want to be glam when I deliver! We're going to have photos and videos, but you know I don't want to be too over the top in my mommy moment!"
The "Living My Best Life" collection launches Monday, October 1st, but head over to the Lilly Lashes Instagram to get early VIP access.
Photography: Brendan Forbes