Lilly Ghalichi, Founder of Lilly Lashes, on How Being Your Most Authentic Self Online Leads to Success

Amanda Kahn
Amanda Kahn
Jan 2, 2024

Before “gifting” was an established creator-led marketing strategy, Lilly Lashes was sending makeup artists their favorite lashes. Founded in 2013, the brand quickly grew to prominence on social media, boasting 2.5 MILLION followers on Instagram.

In Episode 110 of Earned, Conor sits down with Lilly Ghalichi, founder of the industry favorite false lash brand, Lilly Lashes.


To start, we dive into the founding story of Lilly Lashes and hear why Lilly classifies it as accidental. A lawyer by trade, Lilly explains that it was her love of all things glam that led her to creating the brand. Next, Lilly shares that in the world of founders, what you’ll be remembered for is what succeeds, and all you need is one winning idea. We explore Lilly’s three secrets to winning with a social media business, which she definitely should’ve charged us for.

Unpacking Lilly’s strategy for Lilly Lashes, we start with her founding principle that the product was disruptive. We then learn how Lilly utilized the organic conversation from high profile makeup artists to track sales, and how she came to the conclusion that this posting led to a surge in sales. Lilly emphasizes the acceleration we’ve all seen in the creator community, as well as the importance of investing in the right people to forge relationships that will propel your brand forward. With increased competition and greater saturation of brands, we explore the diverse ways that companies can bring creators into their brand development. Lilly reveals her own Instagram journey, shares her thoughts on the two kinds of influencers, and explains how she intentionally chooses what to focus on. To close the show, Lilly shares her dream to eventually build a brand with her daughter—so keep an eye out!  

We’ve included a couple of highlights from the episode below, but be sure to check out the full video above, or tune into the podcast on Spotify, Apple Podcasts, and Google Podcasts!

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The following interview has been lightly edited for concision. 

“That's what led to my success. I ignored the noise”: How Lilly Ghalichi Became the Glam Icon Behind Lilly Lashes  

Conor Begley: You've had a lot of success as a creator yourself. You're probably getting a hundred PR packages a week from different brands. I'm curious, since you're up to a few million fans on Instagram, what has that journey been like? When did it start? What do you think has led to you being so successful there?

Lily Ghalichi: It's hard being a content creator, and I know you're a content creator yourself. So we'll get into that next, but I'm retired now. I'm on Instagram for fun. Maybe I'll post once a month, maybe I'll post twice a month. Maybe I'll have a month where I want to post six times, but I'm not a content creator anymore.

I would say I'm a content viewer now. I'm in a different phase of my life. I'm a wife, I'm a mom, but when I was a content creator at the start of Instagram, I remember that there was a popular page. Everyone in the world had the same popular page, and every post I made would be on the popular page within 30 seconds.

It was so crazy that I would grow more than a thousand followers organically every day. I think my secret was that I was unapologetically me. This was eleven or twelve years ago, when it was taboo to be unapologetically you. Unapologetically, I was into glam, I was into hair, I was into makeup, and I wanted a hair and makeup artist. I wanted to do this every day. I wanted to have photoshoots in my living room, and I thought this was a grand old time. I was 26 or 27 years old and it was all fun and games. It was a time where that was shocking. So most people made fun of me. Every comment used to be: “What are these photoshoots for?” That's what led to my success. I ignored the noise. I ignored people telling me how embarrassing it was. 

“What I've learned is that vulnerability, that human aspect to an influencer, is what makes them influential”: Lilly Lashes’ Lilly Ghalichi on What Truly Makes a Great Influencer 

Conor Begley: When you think about social media, and when you think about your openness, is that something that was inherently scary, or was it easy for you to overcome? Have there ever been challenges where you've been too open and had it backfire on you?

Lilly Ghalichi: In the beginning I was too scared to be super open, and I always wanted to have this perception on Instagram of perfection. I remember I used to avoid posting without makeup because that was such a big part of who I am. Now it's rare that I post with makeup on my stories. Little by little I learned that the more authentic I was, the more vulnerable I was, the more real I was, because no one's life is as perfect as their feed, the more that content resonated with my followers, and the more they connected with me.

There are two types of influencers in the world of my business. Unicorns are the people that are actually influential. Just because you have 3 million followers, 10 million followers, doesn't mean you're influential. If you post for a brand, you may sell zero. We've had people with 12 million followers sell zero, because even though their followers are real, they're not influential. What I've learned is that vulnerability, that human aspect to an influencer, is what makes them influential. People relate to them. People connect with them. That's the real influence. 

I feel like the reason my followers are so connected to me is that they see me at my lowest. They see me through marital problems, they see me through health problems, and they see me through a nose job. Where other people might not want to talk about that, or may even deny having done it, I just make it a part of my DNA. I've always been unapologetically me, and I feel like that has helped me in my social life. More importantly, I think it sends a positive message to young people. I don't ever want someone to look at my feed and be like, wow, I don't look like this. I don't have this perfect marriage. No one does, so I try to show that, and to be a good role model.

Keep up with new episodes of Earned by following the podcast on Spotify, Apple Podcasts, and Google Podcasts, or subscribing to our YouTube channel. To catch up on our previous episodes, featuring leaders from brands like Revolve, K18, Instagram, and Roblox, visit our Earned Podcast page.