Proud to Be: Cody Gapare, founder of C-Lash

Cody Gapare, founder and CEO of C-Lash, tells us why she designed a range of lashes for those who have lost their own, and why she’s proud to run a Black business reaching customers all over the world.

Tell us about your business and what it does.

C-Lash is a strip lash with a soft, flexible and invisible band created for those without their own natural lashes. Wearing false lashes is not impossible but it’s difficult for people going through cancer treatment or with alopecia, as most adhere to your natural lash. 

What motivated you to start?

“I was in that situation – I was diagnosed with breast cancer in 2014 – so I understood the failings of the false lashes I was trying to use; they were too heavy. It was a solution for myself – never in a million years did I think it would become a business. A friend with alopecia saw me trying different solutions and said, ‘You know, if you tried to sell me those lashes, I’d buy them.’

I am proud to be a Black business owner because C-Lash has been a game changer and it’s now available in eight different countries, including in Walgreens in the US

Cody Gapare
Founder and CEO, C-Lash

“Part of my research was done while I was in treatment. I’d be waiting to go for my chemotherapy or radiotherapy and speak to other patients or nurses. I started to get a bigger picture: this is not just about me; there are other people who’ve got the same problem. I was doing market research without realising it.” 

What have been the key challenges and opportunities so far?

“Bringing a product to market is notoriously difficult. This was a girl who had no experience of the beauty industry, of running a business. I didn’t know how to position myself and wasn’t taken seriously. I had no outside funding to start my business. I literally had to bootstrap.

“The only thing that kept me going was that concentrating on creating a business took my mind away from the pain of the treatment and the bigger battle I was fighting.

  • Watch Cody’s business story on Instagram

“The business took a long time to launch. I made every mistake in the book! I think C-Lash is successful because I learned from every mistake. 

“People do care how they look while they’re fighting cancer. I wanted to manufacture beauty products specifically for people who are immunocompromised, so they can pick up the product and know it’s made for them.” 

Finally, the theme for this year’s Black History Month is Proud to Be. Why are you proud to be a Black business owner?

“I am proud to be a Black business owner because C-Lash has been a game changer and it’s now available in eight different countries, including in Walgreens in the US.

“My proudest achievement so far is going back to university after I had been forced to quit due to treatment in 2014. I got my MBA in 2020 and this is especially significant for me because I was never academically gifted growing up. I also did it while in the process of launching C-Lash and working full-time. 

“Winning the Allure Best of Beauty Breakthrough Award 2020 in the US was pretty awesome too!”

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