Lucious Skin from Within

“The reason that I started this brand was to help increase the confidence and self-esteem of women all over the world.”

Clear skin is the holy grail. As a 30-something woman, I’ve been chasing it my entire life. I’ve been sucked into infomercial brands whose photoshopped outcomes made me eager and envious, tried everything from expensive routines to amazon products, and lately, even began dabbling in the world of Med Spas. But nevertheless, I find myself fighting battles with breakouts caused by stress, diet, heavy makeup, and more. Will there ever be a solution?

Well, Skin by Brownlee & Co may be just that! Based out of Cincinnati, Ohio, Brownlee & Co is a spa and skincare line that personalizes every experience in order to ensure those seemingly unattainable results. Owner and creator Sylvia Brownlee reminds women everywhere that good skin starts from within; that means, being mindful of what you put in your body and working to create a low-stress lifestyle in order to prevent your worries from showing up on your face. She works one on one with her in-person clients to cure their acne and heal hyperpigmentation. And for far-away fans, her website even includes a blog where she shares her specialized knowledge, a skincare quiz to create a personalized routine, and – of course – everything from cleanser to makeup for purchase. And while all her products are must-haves, Sylvia recommends clients of every skin type pick up a Cryotherapy ball, which soothes puffiness and even serves as an antiaging device. 

All the big names in beauty have recognized Sylvia’s expertise, from major magazines to national retailers like Target. And while Sylvia certainly celebrated landing a deal with this vendor, recognizing foremost the access it would give to clients across the globe, the contract motivated her to look ahead, asking “what’s next?” For Sylvia, the answer is “scale.” With an innately supportive spirit, Brownlee seeks ways to speak to and assist as many women as possible. This even includes other beauty business owners who are looking to launch or grow their own company; she offers virtual classes and hands out advice, welcoming innovation into the industry rather than viewing other entrepreneurs as competition. Perhaps it’s this mindset – in addition to her products and treatments – that makes Sylvia an inspiration and allows her own luscious skin truly glow. 

Starting your own business came with obstacles and you’ve talked about nearly giving up at one point – what was the biggest challenge along your journey? What was your biggest motivator?

I think that my biggest challenge was just building a clientele, building a base, and understanding how important marketing was. I would say my daughter would probably be my biggest motivator. I wanted to make sure I could show her that building and running a business can be done if you put in the hard work. Here we are, seven years later. And she sees the benefits of all the hard work put in, and she’s pretty proud. So that’s awesome. I love that. And now she’s in nursing school and has one more year left. She wants to do aesthetic nursing. So we could collab [and add a Med Spa to my company]! It depends on if she moves back, she lives in Florida currently, and what she decides. I definitely want it to be entirely her decision.

What is one piece of advice you’d give to a young professional who is looking to start their business/brand?

It’s kind of a two-part-er. One, don’t just go to what’s popular and, two, be consistent. Right now people think that you should be famous overnight, you should be making $1,000,000 overnight, and you should have a million followers overnight. And, remember, a million followers doesn’t equate to a successful business. You have to know what your goals are and stick to them. Don’t just, for example, become a lash technician because it seems like everybody’s making money and it only takes one class to do it. If you’re building a business, it has to be something you’re passionate about and something you want to do because there are going to be hard times. There are going to be times where, when you first start, you’re not going to have clients and you’re going to want to give up, but you have to stick to it and know that if you put the hard work in, it’ll come back to you.

What makes the Skin by Brownlee & Co. unique?

Honestly, I think it’s the customer service, the follow-up, and the passion behind the brand. I, myself, have dealt with acne and still do deal with breakouts, so I know what it feels like when your skin isn’t perfect and you still have to show up. The reason that I started this brand was to help increase the confidence and self-esteem of women all over the world.

What did it feel like to sign a contract with the Target? 

Honestly, it was it wasn’t even on my radar. It wasn’t on my list of things to do. So it was shocking at first – I thought their initial outreach was spam! It feels really good. When people see Target or hear Target they’re like, “Oh, my God.” It makes many more people feel like I’m legit. I think it means that the brand is well known, that it’s a good brand, that we stand behind what we say, and we want to show up for everyone. Target is a national brand and we want to be a national brand. We want to be known all over the world. I think this deal is allowing skin by Brownlee & Co to grow and create more brand awareness. Amazing! But for me, it made me think bigger and ask, “What’s next? What’s next?” It just makes me work even harder.

You’ve talked about how skin care includes emotional well-being, like learning how to deal with stress – what are your top two pieces of advice for having great skin?

Watch what you put in your mouth because everything you put in your stomach shows up on your face or your body. Some people don’t deal with acne on their face, but they deal with it on their chest and on their back. And everything you put into your gut shows up. Everyone is not as lucky to have great genes. So, if genetically your parents had acne growing up, or even as an adult, there’s a 50% chance that you’re going to suffer from that as well. But it could also be brought on later in life by stress. And stress is a major factor in life. So, it’s also about knowing your body. A lot of times people don’t know their body, so they don’t know when they’re carrying stress in that way – on their skin. Often, when I sit down and talk to someone who is complaining about a breakout, it can be something like: they just broke up with their boyfriend of five years and they are very stressed out, or it could be that they’re in medical school or in studying for a big exam. All of those things play a major role in skin clarity. So it’s always about knowing your body because if you aren’t aware of what’s normal for you, you won’t really realize when something’s off. And that’s not just in skincare, but that’s in healthcare as well.

What skincare items/methods should women to add to their nightlife glam routine (before putting on heavy make-up for a night out)?

Everyone should have some type of skincare routine – definitely including cleansing and some form of hydration. So, a hyaluronic serum and then your moisturizer before you glam to be extra hydrating will make your makeup look dewy. And then I think one of the most important things is to remember to take your makeup off. Do not sleep in your makeup. That is the worst, but a lot of people do it because they’re just tired and had a good night. But remove that makeup!

You’ve been a mentor to young women, even creating a self-esteem camp – why is nurturing others so important to you?

I feel like it’s important for young girls to have a positive role model to look up to. Not just me as that model, but other women that are involved in the camp as well. I teach the girls in the camp that they should all have that one person that you can talk to about anything. Sometimes in life, we can take for granted that someone that you can always talk to or vent to or discuss things with. . .  and not everyone has that. And I tell the girls that that is super important to have that one person. In my opinion, it can’t be a peer. It has to be someone older than you that’s been through life, will listen, and knows how to give advice kindly and without dictating. So having the camp allows us to give back in a way, but – by bringing in other female entrepreneurs or successful women – also shows these girls that this is what you can do. And we want them to understand that setting goals is important. Set those intentions now while you’re young!

What’s next for you and Skin by Brownlee & Co.?

I am focusing on what scaling looks like for branding. So, make sure that all of those processes and procedures are in place to do whatever is next. Sometimes, it’s that back-end work that is most important, so when opportunities do present, you’re ready.