Kaitlyn Rapoza couldn’t find a place to work that specialized in lashes in the Hampton Roads area where she grew up — so she set out to open her own lash business where she and other lash artists could thrive.
Rapoza has had her cosmetology license since she graduated from high school and started doing nails. Yet she didn’t discover her passion for lash art until she moved to Maryland, where she worked at a salon and spa. After the original lash artist for the salon and spa left, the owners asked Rapoza to fill the role. Jumping at the opportunity, Rapoza took a class in lash art and was immediately hooked.
“I became really proficient at it and I love what I’m doing,” Rapoza says. “That skill combined with my management experience and handling front desk work set me up for success in opening my own place.”
Just two weeks after opening her new space, the COVID-19 pandemic hit. “I was in disbelief,” Rapoza says, recalling what it was like to have to close SoLash’d for two to three months. However, she was relieved that many of her customers remembered her business and looked forward to returning when she reopened.
“It was better than ever,” Rapoza says. “A lot of people were wearing masks, and one’s eyes were all you could see. So everybody wanted eyelashes.”
Rapoza sees clients from all walks of life, from as young as 16 years old to 82 years old.
“We really become very friendly with our clients. Something about lying there with your eyes closed, people just share their thoughts with you,” Rapoza says, explaining the close bond she shares with her clients, regardless of their age or occupation. “That’s the most enjoyable part, hearing about everybody’s different stories,” she adds.
In March of 2023, from her small shop in Port Warwick, Rapoza moved SoLash’d into a larger space in City Center, where a variety of lash services are offered, including eyelash extension, lash lifts and brow lamination. In addition, the new space includes more lash stations and a classroom where Rapoza offers monthly classes to those who want to learn how to do lash art.
Lash art is intricate work that requires attention to detail, with Rapoza and her team attaching an extension to each individual eyelash — a process that takes at least one and a half hours to complete a full set of lashes.
Rapoza credits her team of professional lash artists to the success of her business. “We have a very strong group of girls working,” says Rapoza, of her eight lash artists. “Your life feels easier when you have good people around you.”
TO THE POINT:
Address: 720 Thimble Shoals Blvd., Ste. 119, Newport News, VA 23606
Contact: Kaitlyn Rapoza