Vending machines may seem like a hallmark of an era gone by, along with bedazzled flip phones, over-plucked eyebrows, and low-rise jeans (which have undoubtedly made their comeback, whether you like it or not). But like most things in the beauty and fashion spaces, vending machines are also experiencing a resurgence, thanks to a few forward-thinking leaders in the industry. But this time, they are coming back stocked with the best beauty essentials.
Back when Ashlee Sarai had just started Mink Envy, and when one of the now-leading lash companies was still brand new to the market, Sarai and her fiancé hand-delivered her falsies to clients across their hometown of Baltimore. But once women realized how luxe and how durable Mink Envy lashes were, Sarai's sales skyrocketed and made hand delivery unfeasible. So Sarai took the natural next step and shifted her business to e-commerce. But she still wished there was a way to provide customers in a pinch with lashes on demand. We’ve all been there before—you realize that you are missing a vital part of the look you’ve spent weeks planning hours before the big event.
And like most of the game-changing ideas she has, the solution came to Sarai in the middle of the night. When the clock struck 3, an idea struck Sarai: “What if we put my lashes in a vending machine?” What started out as an innovative solution to her sales dilemma grew into a network of 8 vending machines all along the East Coast.
So how exactly do Sarai’s Mink Envy lash vending machines work? They function like any other vending machine, but instead of snacks and soda, you get the longest (and longest-lasting) lashes out there. Sarai stocks her vending machines with all of her best-sellers, along with her tried-and-true lash glue and innovative lash adhesive, which also doubles as an eyeliner. Her pretty-in-purple machines also feature a display that shows videos of gorgeous clients and influencers flaunting their new lashes, blending the retro feeling of a vending machine with the most innovative technology in the beauty industry.
But for now, Sarai's lash vending machines are exclusive to the Atlantic Seaboard. When Sarai was still hand-delivering her lashes, she often arranged drop-offs for several clients at a time at local malls. That’s how she realized that they provided the perfect location for her new vending machines. Sarai is very strategic about the malls in which she installs her machines, and she exclusively works with malls that welcome innovative sales strategies like beauty vending machines.
Sarai has found various benefits to her inspired new sales strategy. Though Sarai originally set out to provide her existing clients with an on-demand, immediate way to purchase her lashes, she’s found that her vending machines attract a clientele that her social media or website may not have. The average Mink Envy client is usually between the ages of 18 and 28. However, Sarai has found that her vending machines attract clients anywhere from 15 years old to ladies in their 50s and 60s. That’s because her vibrant fuchsia machines catch the eyes of customers who may not have found Mink Envy online themselves.
While Sarai must be very specific with the demographics she targets with her online advertising, malls traditionally bring in a wider, more diverse crowd. And who can help but falling in love with Mink Envy lashes when they are right in front of them? And just as her vending machines drive an unexpected customer base, they also inspire her customers to choose lashes outside of their usual orders. “Sometimes they see a lash that they may have not liked on line at first in person, and they actually end up buying it.” Sarai said.
But there are numerous other benefits to Sarai's vending machines that neither online or in-person shopping can offer. For example, while physical retail offers immediacy and the chance to see the product you are buying in real life, many women prefer the privacy and efficiency of shopping online. Vending machines offer the benefits of both. They are as fast, easy, and hassle-free as online shopping, but they still provide the benefits (and immediate gratification!) of physical retail.
And the benefits aren’t limited to the consumer side either. Though Sarai had considered opening a brick-and-mortar retail space as well, she found vending machines to be a much smarter financial choice. They don’t require the overhead expenses of a physical store, like sales associate wages, rent, utilities. This way, Sarai can keep her lashes as affordable as they are now. Vending machines also offer Sarai a considerable larger shelf space than a physical retail partner could, which was a crucial factor given the wide variety of lengths, volume, and styles of lashes that Mink Envy offers.
Vending machines actually give Mink Envy much more selling freedom than a physical retail space could. As you may have already guessed by the name, Mink Envy creates the lightest, softest genuine mink fur lashes (though you’d be surprised to learn that their false mink lashes aren’t the real deal based on how lightweight, fluttery, and durable they are). And while most beauty retail stores stay far away from genuine mink fur, Sarai has the freedom to sell both varieties in her machines, each of which is completely cruelty-free.
You already know where to go for the best, lightest, most glam lashes—props to you. But if you are lucky enough to live near one of Sarai's beauty vending machines, you can get them at the click of a button—literally. There’s no reason to skip out on your favorite falsies just because your forgot to account for shipping anymore. Browse all of her locations here and get your lash fix next time you’re at your local mall.