The founder behind Glamnetic has opened up about how being bullied, changing her birth name to fit in, and dealing with the lack of Asian representation in the beauty industry led her to create a multimillion-dollar lash company. Ann McFerran, 28, told Forbes that she “always felt self-conscious about her thin lashes” and often wondered why her eyes didn’t look like the “big blue eyes” of her Barbie dolls.
“Today I lean into my Asian culture. I love it. But when you’re young and super impressionable, you get bullied and I think you automatically become self-conscious,” she said.
McFerran was born in Bangkok and immigrated to the U.S. at the age of 7. She was originally born Jitsupa Tangtrongchitr but changed her name and appearance in order to feel accepted.
“I felt like I didn’t fit in when I moved here. I was the only Asian person in school and girls would look at me like I was an alien, asking if they [could] touch my straight black hair because they’ve never seen hair like that before. And I was called China in middle school as well even though I was Thai,” McFerran told NextShark.
She turned to makeup and the first time she “truly felt self-confidence” was the first time she put on lashes.
“It made me more secure in myself, more extroverted, willing to speak up and have conviction in my own opinions and values. I never went outside without lashes from that day,” she said.
“I don’t think girls that look like me, dark Southeast Asians, are really represented in the fashion/business/beauty industry. The ones I’ve seen in commercials, if I ever do see [them], are really pale mono-lid models, the extreme end of representation when it comes to what people think ‘Asian’ should look like,” McFerran stated.
She opened up about her attempt to model when she first moved to Los Angeles. The casting agencies would pick someone who was “skinnier, paler and looked more Chinese” over her.
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She always felt like she was “stuck in the in-between” because she “wasn’t ‘white’ enough nor ‘Asian’ enough.” Being an entrepreneur has allowed her to embrace the way she looks since she is the face of her brand.
“I think when you put a personality and a story behind the face, the face becomes more familiar and people have become familiar with how I look through the brand. And of course, their only association with another darker Asian was Jeannie Mai so I have seen many comments where people think I am her.”
McFerran wants “more Asian female representation and empowerment” in the beauty industry.
“There’s not enough of us out there with a strong voice, and I think we just need to fill that gap,” she added.
The acclaimed businesswoman founded Glamnetic in August 2019. The fastest-growing lash brand in North America sells the world’s first 6-magnet lashes that are “glam and full and held with magnetic liner.”
She started Glamnetic because she had “tried every type of lash you can imagine from all brands.” She noticed that the majority of people didn’t know how to apply lashes with lash glue, making it “admittedly the hardest part [of] everyone’s beauty routine and the most dreaded.”
The only thing that made the lash application easier was the invention of magnetic lashes. However, she stated that “when you actually tried it, it didn’t work.” The original lashes were “super thin, plastic-y, and sandwiched your natural lashes together between two layers of magnets that had to be perfectly aligned for it to work.” She set out to improve the concept of magnetic lashes by creating “fuller, more dramatic lashes” like the ones she loved.
Glamnetic started off as a one-woman show, and McFerran had to learn how to be a leader once her team expanded. She helped the team “create the right goals to reach,” evaluating if there were any holes and thinking of ways to improve the process.
“It’s a never-ending process of improvement and gaining efficiency amongst an ever-changing environment you can’t control and I think that’s also where the challenge lies,” she continued.
Glamnetic has averaged seven figures per month, and over 500,000 lashes have been sold since its launch. The company’s “Birthday Collection” box set sold out in 11 minutes and hit over a million sales in January. The lashes are now carried in over 1,000 Ulta stores throughout the U.S.
Her advice for someone looking to start their own company is to “Just start! It’s never going to be perfect out of the gate. Building a brand is [about] constant work, improving and becoming more efficient.”
McFerran’s “ultimate vision” for her brand is to “provide intuitive yet innovative beauty solutions or everyday life hacks for everyday girls.”
She wants to launch products that “improve people’s lives” as well as have Glamnetic be the “go-to place for innovative beauty products.”
In an Instagram post
celebrating her nomination on Forbes’ 30 Under 30 list, she wrote that Glamnetic is “on a trajectory I could’ve never imagined in my wildest dreams.”
She also refers to the company as her “magic cure”
and “ultimate purpose in life.”