When we hear the words “microblading” or “microbladed brows,” Strokes Eye Beauty Studio is one of the first that comes to mind. ICYDK, they're responsible for the defined brows of celebrities like Nadine Lustre, Sofia Andres, and Bela Padilla, just to name a few! But next to being celeb-approved, Strokes is also well-known in the industry for their roster of master brow artists, who are some of the most sought-after in the country. One of these pros is the brand's COO herself, Kathleen "Keighty" Wong.
In an exclusive interview with Preview, Keighty shared how she transitioned from a makeup artist into a successful business owner and brow master. Keep scrolling to read her inspiring story!
How Keighty Wong started in beauty
Ever since she was young, Keighty had already been in love with makeup and all things beauty. "Noong high school, nagma-mascara ako, curler, and contacts. 'Pag may disciplinarian, nagtatago talaga ako," she shared. In high school, she was dubbed as the kikay girl, so it was not surprise to her friends when she eventually went into makeup artistry. Prior to becoming a successful co-founder of Strokes, Keighty worked as a professional makeup artist for six years!
How a failed microblading session turned into a business idea
Keighty met her co-founder, Momoi Supe, when they were still starting out in makeup school. They formed such a strong bond that they became inseparable even in their career. But in the competitive world of makeup artistry, they knew they had to step up their game. She said, "Risk-taker ako. So, I attended wedding expos at nakabook kami ng clients doon ni Momoi. Madaldal kami and we really love makeup, that’s what hooked our clients to us.”
Her career in makeup was already thriving, but little did she know that she was about to be part of something bigger. This new chapter started when her sister-in-law decided to have her eyebrows microbladed, and she brought Keighty along because of her beauty knowledge. She consulted Keighty about the shape and color of her eyebrows to ensure a good result. Unfortunately, though, that wasn't enough to prevent a disaster. "Paglabas niya, sabi ko, 'Wow, para siyang South Park, ang itim talaga!' At umiiyak siya," Keighty shared.
The then-makeup artist told her friend Momoi about the incident, and it suddenly turned into a business idea. Keighty said they got so excited that they instantly started searching for microblading schools abroad. And within that same week, their flights were booked.
To deliver the best microbladed brow service in the Philippines, the duo studied in three countries—Russia, Hong Kong, and England. After the training, they bought beds and practiced until they perfected the skill and solved every problem they encountered. In 2015, they opened Strokes' first shop and became officially open for business. Now, they have three branches in Metro Manila alone!
What makes Strokes Eye Beauty Studio stand out
Strokes is a go-to place for microblading not only because of their world-class service and results. According to Keighty, clients trust them because they don’t just microblade brows on, but as master brow artists, they also understand the features of every client.
"Even if we attended a lot of training, there are techniques that are self-learned based on experience. We had to understand what type of brows best suit a client based on their skin tone, undertone, skin concerns, and ethnicity," she explained. "We get diverse customers such as Chinese, Filipino, Caucasian, and, mixed. Iba-iba 'yung brow bone, iba-iba 'yung shape ng face, at madaming considerations bago i-microblade ang clients.
How Strokes started a makeup line during a pandemic
Even if their Eye Beauty Studio had been flourishing since day one, Keighty and Momoi did not want to stop there. They have always dreamt of opening a makeup line, so despite being in the middle of COVID-19 pandemic, they bravely released their new brand, Strokes Beauty Lab.
According to Keighty, the goal was to have good quality products that are affordable for many Filipinos. "We visited many factories and attended many expos abroad kasi maarte kami sa manufacturer. We want to offer the best!" the entrepreneur said.
Keighty admitted that there were hindrances in launching Strokes Beauty Lab during the pandemic, but they were able to launch and grow the business by selling their products online. "Our main challenge lang talaga was marketing kasi puro lockdown at ang hirap mag-shoot. Kaya nag-fly kami to New York since they were more laxed with regulations," she revealed. Promoting the makeup line was also not a problem, because they approached their makeup artist friends such as Jelly Eugenio and Anthea Bueno to introduce and review their products on social media. Now, Strokes' products are a staple in many Filipinos' and pros' makeup kits!
Keighty's key to success
Handling two brands can be stressful especially for a COO who also attends to clients. But with her dedication to her craft, Keighty makes balancing everything possible. "Hindi ako nagpapahinga. Even after sessions I still attend to clients for after care. I handle operations like finance, HR, and accounting concerns, so nonstop talaga," she confessed. "My drive is really my passion because to be honest, OA working hours ko. I work early and go home late kasi pag humito kami, paano 'yung [iba]? Maraming nakadepende sa amin."
With the love and dedication that Keighty pours into Strokes, it's no wonder that her brands have become immensely successful. Even with a tight schedule on her hands, she even finds the time to dress up and get glam for work! But then again, as the saying goes, "do what you love and you'll never work another day in your life." Keighty is definitely a shining example for that.