LOS ANGELES — Another eyebrow queen cometh to conquer the celebrity lair.

Eliza Petrescu, the force behind Eliza’s Eyes, is opening a Southern California outpost this month at Exhale Spa in Santa Monica. That puts her squarely in arch-shaping territory, where Anastasia’s, Damone’s and Valerie’s tweezing powers now exist.

This story first appeared in the January 4, 2008 issue of WWD. Subscribe Today.

Petrescu, who signed up with Exhale more than a year ago after a seven-year relationship with Avon’s Salon & Spa ended, is confident that her brow battle skills will captivate choosy West Coast customers. “There is only one Eliza,” she asserted. “I always believe as long as you give more than 100 percent, you’re always going to be busy.”

And Eliza’s Eyes is nothing if not busy. Associates train a minimum of 40 hours, see 20 to 25 clients a day and charge $65 to $85 per brow visit. (Petrescu sees 40 clients a day and charges $125 per visit. “I am more expensive than anybody in the world,” she boasted.) At least four associates will operate in two rooms at Exhale in Santa Monica, while five associates use four rooms at Eliza’s Eyes in New York.

Although she wouldn’t discuss revenues, Petrescu predicted her Santa Monica business would compare with what she makes at other co-branded Exhale locations, including New York spots at 980 Madison Avenue and 150 Central Park South. She also runs House of Brows in Southhampton, N.Y., and established her first Eliza’s Eyes outside of New York six months ago at Exhale in Dallas.

Eventually, Petrescu said, Eliza’s Eyes would filter through all eight current Exhale Spas, with Chicago and Boston next up on her to-do list. Setup takes two months each time she enters a spa, and Petrescu personally approves associates, who have to be licensed aestheticians. The associates are employed by Exhale, but Petrescu acts as an independent contractor.

“It is really a great marriage,” said Petrescu of her partnership with Exhale. “Exhale knew the potential. I am a brand. They know I bring 400 to 500 clients a week. They knew the clients would follow me.” In Southern California, she suggested that celebrity regulars the likes of Mary J. Blige, Natasha Richardson and Kim Cattrall would stop by when they’re not at their New York digs.

Susan Tomback, spa director of Exhale and business manager for Eliza’s Eyes, said about 50 percent of Eliza’s Eyes customers in New York are crossovers, meaning they go to Exhale for other services besides brow shaping. “Eliza herself really believes in the Exhale products as well,” she said. “You will be in her chair, and she will recommend a facial, which helps our business.”

With the exception of Dallas, where Petrescu pointed out that beauty is defined by “big jewelry and puffy hair,” she said brow styling doesn’t change much from location to location. In fact, she stressed that keys to her success are that she doesn’t follow trends and sticks to what’s appropriate for a woman’s age.

“I don’t believe in what is on the runway. I leave people’s eyebrows as natural as possible,” she said. “If you are 70 years old and have Brooke Shields’ eyebrows [or] if you have Joan Crawford’s eyebrows when you are 20, people are going to run away.”

For those who want to keep up Petrescu’s work at home, she launched a product line in late 2006. That line now totals about 25 items that sell at Exhale, where the $28 Chunky Brow Filler and $28 Clear Brow Shaper are bestsellers. She is beefing up the eye pencil lineup this month and is adding a compact with four colors for the eyebrows, eyes, cheeks and lips. “I believe that Eliza’s Eyes [products] should stay around the eyes and the face,” said Petrescu, who noted she isn’t tied to a product exclusivity deal with Exhale. “I definitely want to expand to have the products worldwide.”

But before the world succumbs to Eliza’s Eyes, Petrescu has to triumph in Southern California. She’s introducing herself to locals from Jan. 8 to 15, will handle eyebrows in In Style’s suite at the Four Seasons Beverly Hills for the Golden Globes, which airs Jan. 13, and is planning to return three months later to make sure everything is up to snuff. Petrescu has no doubt that Eliza’s Eyes will be a hit on the West Coast. “You know what they say,” the Romanian-born brow guru concluded, “[those] who make it in New York make it anywhere.”

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