Ann McFerran: From Artist to Multi-Million Dollar Founder of Glamnetic
Life can take you on an unexpected journey where your goals and ambitions can change in an instant. That’s what happened to Ann McFerran, UCLA alumna in psychobiology, former artist, and now CEO and founder of Glamnetic, a multi-million dollar magnetic lash brand.
With no experience and using all of her life savings, McFerran created a beauty empire. Here’s how she utilized her scientific background, artistic side, and determination to found her company.
Who is Ann McFerran?
Ann McFerran: I was born in Bangkok, Thailand and I moved to the U.S. when I was seven years old. I grew up in a really small suburban town in Northern California. I moved to L.A. because I got into UCLA for college and I had no idea what I wanted to do but I always loved science. My mom wanted me to be a doctor and get a steady job with good pay because I was the first person in my family to go to college. I graduated with a psychobiology degree but during college, I also dabbled in art. I wasn’t sure if it was something I wanted to do in the future but the more I did it, the more I felt like it was my calling.
When I graduated I was like okay, either I have to take the MCAT or I’m going to try to become an artist. When I secured my first $5,000 commission I dove straight into art. Fast forward some years and I had shown internationally but felt lonely doing it. I felt like I was searching for something else and that’s how I embarked on my entrepreneurship journey with Glamnetic.
How did you start Glamnetic?
I didn’t feel as emotionally connected as an artist should feel with their work. Art is a constant hustle — you have to keep trying and there’s a lot of pitching yourself, just like modeling or acting. I wanted my brain and my creativity to speak for themselves which is what attracted me to entrepreneurship.
I always felt like eyelashes were such a transformational tool. Growing up in Thailand I was teased a lot because I looked different and when I played with makeup and wore lashes, I felt more beautiful. That’s where the slogan “Be Glamnetic” comes from.
It’s super difficult to apply lashes because of the glue — everyone struggles with it. When magnetic lashes came out, I liked the fact that you don’t have to use glue but the execution was poor – it was difficult to use, even more so than glue! I did a lot of market research and since I had a scientific background, I developed a magnetic eyeliner that then would attach to the magnetic eyelashes. I was finally able to find a vendor that could actually execute my idea properly with full voluptuous lashes that were like Mink lashes.
How was the transition from pre-med to art to Glamnetic?
My background in science helped my journey in product development which was the hardest and most important part. If you don’t have a good product, there’s no brand, no matter how good of a marketer you are.
With art, having a creative and artistic vision was a gamechanger for me. I know how to film, edit, graphic design, and Photoshop. It saved us money and allowed us to run a successful social feed. I couldn’t have done all that if I didn’t have an artistic background.
What’s the most valuable lesson you’ve learned in creating your own business?
I’m a risk-taker when it comes to everything, and I really need to check myself sometimes because I move too fast. I think, let’s launch it and if it’s not perfect, we’re going to fix it.
However, if I do too many of those things at once, it can get overwhelming to deal with. Sometimes I need to sit back and take my time, take a breath and work on something more before I jump the gun. That’s something I’m learning to be better at. The other thing is managing people — you have to be great at communication and over-communicate. The way you instruct people has to be so clear that they can’t misinterpret it.
What do you think makes Glamnetic and your business model unique?
I think the product speaks for itself. I’ve tried other brands and the magnetic liner doesn’t work as well in terms of the strength of the hold and how fast you can apply the lashes. We were also the first to come out with six magnet lashes and the first color magnetic lashes.
I think we also have a very unique business model. We run super lean, we don’t believe in investments and completely self-funded. We’ve been profitable from day one, which is so rare right now in today’s market environment.
How does being a woman color influence your work, if at all?
Coming from another country, I’m so much more grateful to be here. In America, I have the opportunity to really just do everything and grow everything I want. I wouldn’t have the same opportunity in Thailand and I think that really drives me. I take care of my parents, my dad is 80-something and my mom can’t get a job here even though she has a degree in Thailand that unfortunately means nothing here. I think having an immigrant background really gives you a different mindset. Especially being from a country where women aren’t placed in positions of power — here women are celebrated in positions of power.
What advice would you give to your recent college graduate self?
I think you really learn a lot by talking to a lot of people. You have to go out and meet as many people as you can and ask them about their careers. Network, ask what jobs they’re doing, ask deep questions about how their job makes them feel and what kind of skills are necessary to complete that job. I was talking with an entrepreneur and it made me realize that it’s something I want to be doing. I want to feel like every single day I’m building something new and that’s how I feel with entrepreneurship.
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