A Bronx native took her own eyebrow journey and made a booming career out of it, creating the popular salon Sania’s Brow Bar.
When Sania Vucetaj was four years old, she smacked her head on a dining room table, leaving a visible scar that split her right eyebrow in two. At the age of 21, she started to work on how she can become more confident with her eyebrow.
“I was determined to figure out how to fix this. This is years ago, this is in the 90s, and there were no brow pencils, there was nothing like that,” said Vucetaj. “I experimented and I figured out I could pick up an eyeliner and just kind of camouflage and removed the hair surrounding [the scar].”
With this discovery, Vucetaj was able to regain some self-esteem and wanted to help others. The then-stay-at-home mother of two enrolled in a 10-month beauty night school, hoping to get more training in brow shaping. After seeing that she wasn’t going to get training beyond waxing, Vucetaj continued to style of tweezing and shaping while earning her esthetician license.
Vucetaj started working part-time as an eyebrow specialist at a local salon while maintaining a customer service position when she saw a help wanted ad in the New York Times for a brow specialist position at an upscale salon.
“I sent in my resume, and in the hobbies section, I wrote down ‘Beautifying people and carrying tweezers in my pocketbook,'” said Vucetaj.
That tidbit caught the attention of a recruiter from the department store Bergdorf Goodman, who called Vucetaj the next day to offer her an interview. She landed the job after shaping a Bergdorf beauty technician’s brows during the interview.
“They hired me full time which was a dream. I still didn’t know until I got there what a dream it was,” said Vucetaj.
Vucetaj was quickly making a name for herself in the brow space, utilizing her tweezing-only method to bring in a robust clientele in her two-and-a-half years at Bergdorf Goodman. She eventually was written up in a number of publications, and her supervisor at the time said that if she was written about one more time, she’d be fired.
“By the third year, I was up to around 30 people a day, out in the open, just out in the open. It really made a lot of buzz. I decided to start looking for my own place and expanded into my own salon it was on 56th street and the clients all followed me.”
In 2005, Vucetaj officially opened Sania’s Brow Bar, which offered no waxing, threading, or microblading, just tweezing. After a few years in that space, business really started to boom, causing her to move Sania’s Brow Bar in 2011 to its current Chelsea location at 48 W 20th Street. Two of Vucetaj’s daughters and her niece even went on to get their own esthetician licenses so they could join the family business.
Vucetaj’s next step after initially opening her own space was to create her own line of products. She started off with a brow pencil, which features an angled brush applicator that defines brows with a powder finish.
“I used my knowledge as being an esthetician knowing the skin underneath the brows, knowing what works and what doesn’t because anytime you put something on your face, there are certain oils under there and the makeup companies that are creating these products don’t really work on brows every day,” said Vucetaj. “With our brow pencil, it goes on dry. If it’s oily, it’s going to glide right off and go on too dark. So that’s what makes it different, our pencil has the texture of a powder but a position of a pencil.”
After the success of the brow pencil, Vucetaj released a pair of tweezers and scissors that help shape eyebrows while preventing ingrown hairs and uneven cuts. Her latest product, a brow shampoo, is meant to maintain the health of the hair and skin.
“I’ve been telling people for 17 years now, because I discovered a little late: never, ever get creams, lotions, moisturizer foundation, sunscreen, serums, oils, gels, nothing on or around the brows because your brows are hair, your follicle gets clogged and the pores get clogged,” said Vucetaj. “There are patches in people’s eyebrows, especially because the T zone sits right through the brow on the face and the T zone carries the most oils. Something didn’t sit right with me by saying don’t use anything, it’s better not to use anything than to use a skin cleanser because skin cleansers are made just for skin.”
With this in mind, Vucetaj developed a brow shampoo that not only cleanses the skin under your eyebrows but also fights flakiness and keeps pores clear.
“What it does is it soaks up the oil so it controls the flakiness. It cleans the pencil and residue out of your brows, which you should cleanse your brows anyway every day. I feel like, I don’t know why I didn’t think about it sooner,” said Vucetaj. “I prefer you use this for your lashes rather than makeup cleanser because the lashes are also hair and I can use it for their beards because I have men who have beards and they say they have itchiness dryness, a little flakiness in there, too.”
Vucetaj has since opened a second Sania’s Brow Bar location in Scarsdale, New York that her daughters run. She has also racked up a portfolio of famous clientele, including Sarah Jessica Parker, Rihanna, and Olivia Culpo.
When asked if she thought her business would grow the way that it has, Vucetaj says yes and no.
“To be honest with you, my family thought I was hallucinating, I remember I was pregnant with my fourth child and I was with my husband and I looked at him and I said, I think I’m gonna open up a booth in the mall. My intention was always I brought my own place, my family thought I was crazy when I left because they’re like, you have a comfortable place, why would you risk it with your own place?” said Vucetaj. “I knew I wanted to do a pencil even before I started this, I had my mind set so far that I was gonna open up my own place and create my own brand. I’m so grateful that it became this day.”
When it comes to the future of the business, Vucetaj says she is working on a men’s line of products so they can take care of their beards and eyebrows effectively. Vucetaj is also working on developing an app so people around the world can get the tools they need to take care of their eyebrows.
“I wanted to make an online site, an app, because I can only do people in New York. Everyone wants a good brow, and it breaks my heart that I can’t get everywhere, so I’m trying to educate people as much as I can,” said Vucetaj. “I’ve been asking designers to create an app that can actually help people figure out how to shape, mold their own brows from home the correct way, and that’s my dream. I want to be able to help people worldwide and then I could sleep at night and say, okay, I’ve accomplished what I wanted to.”
For more information about Sania’s Brow Bar, visit saniasbrowbar.com.