When Lyndsey Brantley began her career as a structural engineer, she never dreamed that more than a decade later, she’d be a thriving entrepreneur running her own million-dollar beauty empire and teaching other women how to do the same.
We caught up with her to talk about how she transitioned from a corporate job to running an all-natural skincare and beauty education company, Camellia Alise.
What motivated you to leave engineering as a career to pursue the competitive beauty industry?
Well, I have a condition called PCOS (polycystic ovary syndrome), which caused me to have issues with my skin. Not only did I suffer with acne, but I also had excess hair growth that led to ingrown hairs and razor bumps when I’d try to get rid of the hair. I tried so many products, both over the counter and prescription, and nothing seemed to really work. I decided to do some research on my own and literally concoct a solution in my kitchen using natural ingredients. I was having more success with my own creation than with commercial products, and I knew there were a lot of people out there like me with the same condition, so I decided to see if I could sell my own products.
How did your experience as an engineer help you start a beauty business?
Engineers are taught to see everything in systems. We learn how to break down big concepts into smaller iterations, which I think is important to building a business. Engineers are literally taught how to build things, so whether it’s a physical structure or a business, the foundational elements are somewhat similar.
I want people to have the best skin they can possibly have because having problem skin can definitely affect your self-confidence. We now offer products to help prevent razor bumps and ingrown hairs and cleansers to clear up skin problems such as acne scars, stretch marks, and cellulite.
The beauty industry is a multibillion-dollar industry, and it hasn’t always been kind to women of color, especially Black women. How do you empower other women who are interested in this field?
Educating women on how to break into the beauty industry is probably what I love most about what I do, which is why I created the Camellia Alise Academy. We have women from all over the country and even different parts of the world who travel to Houston to take our certification classes. We’re actually getting ready to host a summit in Houston that will further educate women on starting their own companies, and we’re taking our classes on tour to New York, Los Angeles, Seattle, Dallas, and Orlando. When we teach women various body contouring methods, we’re not just giving them tools to start a business; we’re giving them a pathway to change their lives, and there’s no better feeling than that.
A lot of Black-owned businesses had to shut down during COVID. Given that you have a brick-and-mortar business, how did you stay alive during the pandemic, and how are you keeping the doors to your company open?
Because we also have a spa, we were mandated to close for a while when the pandemic first hit. That was worrisome, not only because we offer in-person body contouring services, but we also have certification classes for people who want to get into this industry. With our doors closed, I had to think of something quickly to make sure we didn’t go under. Since we already had a process in place to make our skincare products, we pivoted to start making hand sanitizer at a time when there wasn’t much of it to go around, and we also increased our e-commerce sales and marketing efforts to boost product sales at the time we needed it the most. Coming up with creative ideas definitely helped us.
Once we were able to reopen and start taking clients inside our studio again, we went back to making our regular products and offerings or normal wellness and detox services such as non-invasive laser lipo, skin tightening, foot detoxes, yoni steams, and facials.
What’s your goal for your company?
I want Camellia Alise to be a household name for natural beauty and beauty educational services because that’s what sets us apart. Our products are a natural option to what’s currently sold in stores, our body contouring services are a safer alternative to invasive surgeries, and our educational services help clients and potential spa owners to fill in their knowledge gaps in the beauty industry. People want to look their best without putting their health at risk and make educated choices on what’s best for them; it’s our mission to help them do that.