My interview with Jeffrey Paul and Indie Lee:
Allow me to preface this post by saying that I was introduced to celebrity hair and makeup artist Jeffrey Paul at the Beautylish VIP reception last month, which was the day prior to the actual interview. As we approached him, I noticed that he had captured the audience of four young women who were seemingly hanging on to his every word. They were captivated by his open and engaging demeanor. He turned around, briefly had our introductions. Then a few minutes later, I agreed to interview him the next day.
The very next day, I met the dynamic and lovely Indie Lee. She felt vehemently as I do about the effects of what we place into our body is just as important as what we apply onto our skin. Her journey from working as an successful accountant for HBO to the devastating reason behind the creation of her own brand of all-natural beauty products was so compelling, I had to know more of her.
The three of us all sat down for a conversation about trends, health, self-esteem, spirituality, why Beautylish rocks, and society's perception of what beauty means.
This was the result.
Me: Is there enough brown beauty representation in the industry?
Jeffrey Paul: There is, but everybody’s trying to find a formula where everybody can “fit in”. The cosmetic industry wants to show something new - making sure that each market is tapped and that it’s balanced. Trying to find something that’s universal for everybody - trying to find what we all have in common. But for me, what everybody has in common is the soul. I don’t differentiate between color, sex or anything…I don’t care. I don’t care what the body jacket (outward appearance) is. The approach is how it’s being displayed and how people are presenting it. They’re (industry) doing it in a way that’s digestible for people. But now, the doors are open now that we have Obama as president.
Me: And the first lady gives what a lot of younger women of color aspire to, which is grace, intelligence and a sense of a more practical approach to beauty. Generally speaking, young girls are affected by what they see in the media.
Me: As far as trends go, what kind of colors or looks do you see us rocking in the Spring?
JP: Well, as far as the trends happening on the runway, we see a lot of florals and prints, a lot of Spring colors which can be (translated) bold or it can be soft. There’s definitely the presence of femininity and “pretty” next season. With women of color, the trick is to make those colors stand out. If you really want to follow the trends – let’s say you wanna do a lilac eye shadow. You have to use a base that will slightly lift the skin tone so that the color appears appropriately to the color hue that it has. If white is the absence of color and black is the presence of all color, the darker you get in the color spectrum, the color hue shows less on the skin. The trend can be wearable, it’s just how you apply it is the key. Women can wear the trend of they want to, but it all boils down to your skin tone, and what is gonna look best on you. If lavender is gonna look like crap on you, don’t wear it.
Indie Lee: I think you touched on a very universal theme, and what you said really spoke to me which was that beauty really comes from within (from the Brown Girl Beauty panel).
JP: It does.
IL: Nourish the body, nourish the soul, nourish the mind…
IL: ...and true beauty comes out. And I think the other point is, just because it’s a trend doesn’t mean you should wear it
IL: Or just because it’s a trend, doesn’t mean it’s a trend for YOU. That’s what they’re doing. I’m never gonna look good in a neon color. Nor will I be wearing those…(looking for the word)
Me: Pool shoes?
IL: Yeah! It’s not gonna happen. I’m a heel girl.
Me: Me too! When ballet flats became trendy, I couldn’t do it. I needed a little heel.
IL: Does that mean that I’m not trendy? But you know, there’s something to be said about a classic style and really embracing who you are and what looks best for you. I think that what you were resonating on stage was to focus on the soul – this is where true beauty happens.
JP: Oh, I’m so glad that came across.
IL: It spoke to me.
JP: I wanted to add more to that. I was so ready to start doing affirmations for people.
Me: I would’ve loved that!
JP: But I didn’t wanna hog the panel.
Me: Because it’s not the audience for it? I think you’d be surprised.
JP: Well, I didn’t wanna hog the panel and be “Okay, it’s all about ME show” because I have a big mouth drowning everybody out. People would tapping on the Mic saying “Hey! time’s up!”
(Laughter from all of us)
IL: I also wanted to say that everyone here wants to look beautiful. No one wakes up and says “ I wanna look like crap today!” Everyone wants to look beautiful. However, unless that insides…you know, it’s gotta come from here…(pointing to the heart)
Me: How do you find that belief that you’re insides (soul) matter? Is it something that you hone over time? How do you display that all elusive confidence?
JP: We’re all born the same. We’re all born as little beautiful babies that only know how to love. Everything else along the way has been learned behavior. Not to say that I learned it from my parents or I learned it from society. It’s okay. I just recently learned that from my therapist. I told him…”So I learned XYZ from my parents.” He said, “That’s okay, you learned it because you were supposed to. You were supposed to go through it for your soul’s evolution.” So what that’s saying is that we’re all beings that are souls first, which is everything. The other (external) stuff the body, the sex, the haircolor, the skin color all of that is secondary. That’s not who you are.
Me: That secondary stuff really plays on the confidence part. Then, we have the conditioning…
JP: Then we have the conditioning. Social conditioning, parental conditioning, etc. But, it’s okay. You were born into this life to learn from it and grow from it. It’s not who you are.
Me: That’s a great way of looking at that. So, how would you translate that to young brown girls to learn how to celebrate herself?
JP: By celebrating and loving her exactly the way she is. Constantly reassuring her that she’s beautiful exactly as she is, at that moment. She always will be (beautiful). Everything else (values, sense of self, etc.) is just adding to that beauty. She already has it all.
IL: You know that idea of 80/20 (80% perception, 20% reality) we make these things up in our head as we evolve through life. All the challenges that we learn from, all the challenges that we go through, defines who we are. And I think in terms of confidence, it’s gonna come and it’s gonna go. Then you’re gonna stumble, and then you’re gonna self-doubt. Then things might hold you back then finally, you’re gonna go forward. That’s the process to get where you are at that time. I believe that everything always happens for a reason. You don’t always know it and you may not see it now. Ultimately, you make a very conscious choice to live everyday. One of the things that I’ve said is I really wanna live my life and leave a legacy. And that’s what I’m passionate about.
JP: That’s beautiful.
Me: How did you get started in the business?
IL: I was an accountant for HBO. It didn’t have anything to do with beauty and everything to do with the financials and the numbers - which is very helpful in starting a business. I went to the doctor’s and I was told that to get my affairs in order because I had a brain tumor and was given 6-9 months to live and to say goodbye to my children. And I was like, “uhhmmm, yeah, I don’t think so.” Then, I said to myself, “No! I’m not gonna die!” Later on, when I found out that environmental toxins or substances had most likely created this tumor I said “Oh my God, I’m gonna make it throught this, I’m gonna create healthier products and then create a platform to stand on top and say hear me roar, you can make a difference, start reading your ingredients, start making a few changes. You don’t have to change everything, but some changes like educating yourself to be healthier is important. It’s not just about healthier as far as what you’re putting on. It’s what you’re putting in you body, who you’re talking to, who you’re surrounding yourself with.
JP: Our thoughts create our future. Most everything boils down to a thought. And thoughts can be changed.
IL: And I have not stopped. From the moment I woke up and the doctor said “Welcome to your life” …I have not stopped. And I take everyday as ”Oh my God! I woke up today! It’s a great day! Let’s go!”
Me: You’re amazing!
JP: That’s so awesome.
IL: That’s why I love what I do.
Me: Did you go through any radiation therapies or cancer treatments?
IL: It wasn’t cancer. I had a brain disease caused by environmental toxins. It could have been something that my mother put on her when I was in utero. I think it’s really important that this generation doesn’t realize that what they’re putting on their bodies right now does affect their reproductive cycle. Unfortunately, I have a very advanced case of rheumatoid arthritis so I take a form of chemotherapy to keep it I check. I’ve tried everything from holistically eating, etc. I just have to take it (right now). So I said, “Okay, you know what? This is what it is right now.” And one day, there will be something that I can do for it that will be natural.
JP: I have a couple of books for you. One is from Andreas Moritz. He wrote all these books on health but he wrote this other book called The Amazing Liver and Gallbladder Flush. He’s amazing! I had eczema and I was gaining weight, not feeling healthy, had red spots underneath my eyes. And I was going, “ This isn’t my body!” So I said, I know that liver is all about the skin, why don’t I do something for my skin. Why not do a liver flush?” I consulted with a Chinese doctor about doing a liver flush. So, I decided to do various flushes for my body, detoxed for a whole year and the eczema went away.
Me: How did you decide to take that route?
JP: I don’t drink. I’m mindful of toxins and what does to my body.
Me: So you abide by healthy living.
JP: I live a healthy lifestyle.
Me: Do I hear a book?
JP: Yeah, I’m planning to create a book about internal health creating your external beauty. Everybody can write a beauty book, you can just copy the techniques. But it’s how you combine the techniques with the affirmations that go along with them. What you’re putting into your mind, what you’re putting into your body that’ll create the difference.
Me: When will this come out? I’m really excited about this. (laughter)
JP: Sometime next year. I started creating the workbook to go with the videos which I plan turn into a book. But I still need to include the spirituality and the nutrition. And (I believe) this is where beauty is going. That’s why I love Beautylish.
IL: Thank you! Yes! (Beautylish) is a very inclusive, healthy, online venue for people who want to feel beautiful. Everybody wants that!
Me: And it’s also empowering to know that there’s a resource you can go to and retrieve all these beauty/lifestyle info that serves you. It’s a wonderful and safe place to know about all aspects of beauty.
IL: Yes. They offer and feature different product lines. I’ve created an incredible opportunity and a space about combining beauty and health. So there’s that part, along with the ability to say you have a choice, you have a voice. And until everyone starts making those choices, raising their voices, we’re not going to see a change in this marketplace.
Me: As a makeup artist, I decided a long time ago that I wanted to use non-toxic, cleaner type of ingredients when it comes to makeup and this is something that I feel very passionate about from the very get go. I’ve been to several tradeshows, seminars, classes and I’ve found that there’s not a whole lot of presence out there when it comes to nontoxic makeup.
IL: It’s just starting and to be honest it’s very expensive to start a line. I know because I’m self funding. And I’m just putting my products out there and I believe that if I continue to do what I’m doing it’s gonna happen and success will find me. But I’m here in this business to provide another choice.
Me: There are a lot of non-toxic products out there, you just have to look for it. I have products in my kit that are non-toxic and green. My issue is availability (the ability to a store when I’m low on foundation, lipstick or powder). Majority of the stuff that I have in my kit I’ve ordered online. The efficacy is there, you just have to look for it. I’m always hoping that they’ll offer sample sizes so I can try it out before I commit to a full size.
IL: You’re right. Presence is key. You know, Tata is also another resource that goes out there with her products, does the research and does the footwork for you. One of the things that I appreciate about her line is her delivery of luxury products that are non-toxic.
JP: I think we should talk about products more.
Me: I’m all for it.
IL: I’m in New York, always.
JP: Whoa! That’s funny, I just got a text from New York. We got great reviews! (from the panel)
IL: You guys rocked!
Me: Yup! Good news travels fast! :)
I hope you enjoyed this post. Have an awesome day! xox
Laugh, Love, Live Positive