HIGH-FLYING BROW STUDIO OWNER AND FLIGHT ATTENDANT
STORY: Daryn Kagan
PHOTOS: Sara Hanna
Leza Bennett knows what it is to feel insecure about one of the least talked about features of a woman’s face. “I don’t have a whole lot of eyebrows myself,” the 47-year-old owner of The Perfect Brows admits. “And it made me feel really bad about my appearance.”
Like the arc of a perfect eyebrow, Bennett’s journey from brow insecurity to creating a booming Buckhead brow studio has not been a straight line. The Milwaukee native applied to become a Delta flight attendant right out of college, even though she’d only been on an airplane once in her life. “I wanted to move to New York City and see the world,” she says. “I figured that was the way to make that dream come true.”
By 2005, she found herself in Atlanta, loving her job, when Delta declared bankruptcy. “People were leaving, they were quitting, and the company was laying people off. I thought, ‘What am I going to do?’”
By this time, Bennett had figured out how to overcome her eyebrow insufficiency. “I had practiced with different powders and pencils. I figured out how to make them look really amazing and give myself a look I felt comfortable with,” she says. So when Delta hit bumpy times, she knew what her “what else” had to be: brows. “I felt like if I could fix myself, I could fix other people,” she remembers.
Turns out, she never got laid off, so she went to aesthetician school on days when she wasn’t flying. Two years at the Anastasia brow studio at Phipps Plaza followed before Bennett knew it was time to go out on her own. It was 2008, a terrible time to start a new business. “No one would give me a loan,” she recalls. “They said, ‘We don’t know what an eyebrow studio is.’” So Bennett used the tip money she’d saved up for two years as down payment on her rent, a space upstairs from the old Souper Jenny location on East Andrews Drive.
Her next move still makes some people gasp. “I took every last dime out of my Delta 401(k),” she shares. “$35,000.” And she hasn’t looked back from that day she waited nervously for her first customer to walk through the door.
Business is now booming at The Perfect Brows’ latest location in the One Buckhead Plaza building. “I have a 7,000- to 8,000-client base,” says Bennett. “My most loyal clients are booking through 2020 to stay on my calendar.” Even Delta Airlines has become a customer. Three years ago, the company asked Bennett to provide her brow service at the employee SkySpa at Hartsfield-Jackson airport.
As for that 401(k) loan, she paid herself back in full after three years. And she continues to contribute to her Delta 401(k) account. Yes, even while running her brow business, Bennett is still flying. At first, it was to keep her benefits. Then, she wanted to hit 25 years with the company. Now, she simply loves her schedule. “I fly Sunday, Monday and Tuesday. I open my brow studio Wednesday through Saturday,” she says. “I feel like I have the best of both worlds, because I use the time I fly to regroup.”
Somehow, through this incredible ride, Bennett managed to get married and have two kids, Frederick Junior, 7, and Georgia, 4. When she has a rare free moment, she and her husband, Frederick, love to go to Buckhead hot spots Storico Fresco and the rooftop of American Cut steakhouse.
Future dreams include possible franchises and getting a storefront in the airport. But her business home will never change. “Buckhead is the best place to be in business in Atlanta,” says Bennett. “It’s a community. I have people who come from Mableton, Canton, Woodstock, East Atlanta, down south and Cobb County. This is the thriving area to be in.”
As for what she thinks qualifies her as a bold woman, she says, “Being a bold woman is stepping out into the unknown to follow the dreams of your heart and trusting God to orchestrate each step.”