Getting Free with Beauty Entrepreneur Lauryn Penn | Insights from The Brand Unveiled Podcast
In this podcast episode, Brianna sits down with Lauryn Penn, founder of Posh Pretty Collection LLC and freelance makeup artist of 10 years. Lauryn shares her journey as a Black Woman Entrepreneur in America. Lauryn discusses her struggle with PCOS and how speaking up was a turning point for her. For Lauryn, the beauty industry is vital for her mission to inspire confidence in women through her words and business endeavors.
Brianna: Intro (00:00):
Hey you guys. It's your girl, Brianna Régine and I am so excited. We have our first guest of The Brand Unveiled Podcast of 2023. Not only is this guest our first guest in general but it is our first highlighted Black Woman Entrepreneur. As part of my agency's Black Woman Entrepreneurs of America Campaign, I cannot wait for you all to hear Lauryn's testimony. Honestly, as a Black Woman Entrepreneur, there are a variety of different biscuits in this episode. Please take some time to listen to her story and more importantly, learn about her business. And when you're done, please go and support her brand, whether that be through liking, commenting, sharing with someone who would resonate with her brand, or need her products, or buying a product yourself, or all of the above. All of her information is in the description box below. Enjoy this episode.
Brianna: A little bit about Lauryn (01:12):
So today we have our first highlighted Black Women Entrepreneur of America on the podcast Lauryn Penn herself. Lauryn Penn is the founder of the Posh Pretty Collection LLC. She's an entrepreneur in the beauty industry as well. Lauryn believes that the beauty industry, the look down on, is vital to the growth of the female community. Lauryn feels that she is called to the female community and called to speak confidence into them through her words and her business ventures. In addition to founding the Posh Pretty Collection, she also has 10 years of experience in freelance makeup artistry. She earned a bachelor's of science in 2019, majoring in business management as the first entrepreneur in her family. That's what's up. Lauryn is blazing her own trail, proving that nothing is impossible without God. Hallelujah [laugh]. Her goal is to prove to her family and other women like herself that your dreams can come true with hard work and focus.
Yes, Lauryn, I am here for it. So let's dive right on in. Or actually, no, it'll probably be best to give people a little bit of insight as to why I wanted to amplify you and why I wanted to have you on this podcast. I know that you and I met because we sat on the same panel in New Jersey years ago, and I remember meeting you then. Super kind, super sweet, confident, and every now and again I would see you on my timeline talking about positive messages and just trying to uplift women, particularly women of color. And the latest video that I saw, I was like, first of all, how come I have not seen her content in like forever? Instagram is a hater. Okay. But when I did watch it, I was like, wow. Oh yeah, she's the bomb.com, everything that she's saying. Absolutely. Amen. That is a message. So I was like, lemme hit her up and see what she got going on, what she's doing. So take us back to the beginning. And the beginning being you 10 years ago, realizing that makeup was your way of not only showcasing your talent and what you wanna communicate with the world, but also using it as a tool to amplify other women.
Lauryn: How It Started (03:50):
I started doing makeup when I was around 15, 16. And I started doing it as a hobby. I had never taken a makeup class or anything before. I was on YouTube University. And I just mimicked everything I saw until I perfected it and felt that I was good enough to then start making profit from it. But I realized the more I thought about it, it was something I was doing for confidence. Because in my younger years, and even still today, I suffer from symptoms of PCOS. Mm-hmm. And one of the major symptoms of PCOS is excessive facial hair. And I then realized that I felt more pretty or more confident with makeup on. And so makeup wasn't an answer for me, but it also helped me hide a little bit.
Lauryn: On Confidence (04:47):
That's why I was so engulfed by it but it's not something that I spoke on. I knew it was probably visible to the naked eye, but nothing that I really wanted to speak on. It wasn't until I'd say, maybe three years ago that I kind of just accepted it for myself so that I could move on. But I was in a place where I needed more confidence. And so by me doing others' makeup, it allowed me to also boost their confidence. Sometimes they saw more confidence in me than I saw in myself and I just bounced back off of other women's energy and their confidence. I always wanted to be that person to boost somebody else's confidence because I wanted somebody to boost mine. So makeup became a big thing for me and it was profitable, but it also was sort of a, I don't wanna be deep, but sort of like a ministry for me.
Because not only am I beating your face, but I'm reminding you of how pretty you are. I'm reminding you of how gorgeous you are. Some people will say “Oh My God, you’re making me so pretty” and I'm like, no, I'm making you prettier. And so, it just became a big thing for me. It boosted my confidence and then I realized that when I boosted my confidence, I was also helping other women to boost theirs. So it wasn't just about the makeup for me, it was more so the message behind it.
“It boosted my confidence and then I realized that when I boosted my confidence, I was also helping other women to boost theirs. So it wasn't just about the makeup for me, it was more so the message behind it.”
Yeah. You can get as deep as you want on this podcast. Yes. [laugh], this is your platform. I'm quite spiritual myself, you know, being an entrepreneur, God is everything. God is the center. Absolutely. Absolutely. My decision making. So if you wanna go there.
Yeah, we can take it there.
We can go there. [both laugh], We go there. I wanna touch a little bit on if you're comfortable, your experience with PCOS and more. So just like the ways in which it made you realize that one, I feel this way. Two, I know I'm not the only one that feels this way and therefore I'm going to transform my pain for the lack of a better word, into purpose. Take us there. Like what was that shift like? Because before you get to that moment of I'm gonna do something with my experiences, you're kind of in the thick of it.
Right? So whatever comfort level that you're willing to share, just give us some insight into how you got from A to B. Because I've seen a lot of women, particularly Black women dealing with PCOS and endometriosis and not properly being diagnosed. And I feel like thankfully due to social media now I see it all of the time. But I definitely know in the healthcare system it is not prioritized as a possibility for us and therefore giving a cure for it.
Lauryn: On PCOS (07:51):
Yes. It was something that I struggled with for a long time. It began being visible to me at around like 11, 12, 13. That was my sign. For other people, it's different. It may be your ovaries' reason, maybe if you even have a hard time losing weight and things like that. But my short side for me was the hair, the exacerbation hair. And it's like when you think about your face, that's how people see you. So it was like, I wasn't happy with the way people were seeing me and that definitely is a confidence lower. And so I struggled with it. I would cry all the time. I would be upset. I thought like I wasn't gonna have a lot of friends. I thought that nobody would ever maybe wanna marry me cuz who wants a girl with a hairy face.
And it just definitely dampened my mood every time I thought about it. I went through every solution in the book. I started using over the counter stuff like Nair or Sally Hanson and things like that. I've burned my face using those. For those who may not know, those are temporary hair removers and they remove the hair from the surface, but they do not remove the hair from the root and because it's not being pulled from the root, it comes back faster. So if I would go through a session of Nair on Monday and by Tuesday morning, I had to do it again ''cause I didn't pull it from the root. So that became a little bit painful over my face. I would break out and I would kind of be red and it would burn.
And on those days I couldn't wear makeup ‘cause the makeup would start to burn. So I had to go out, you know, bare face or ugly to me. I would be in school and I would try to wear my hair down all the time. So it was kind of like not, you know, hiding. I would wear hoodies when I could. There were times when I really didn't even wanna look in the mirror because I just didn't like what I saw. But Nair is something that I used consistently, just maybe a little bit too much to the point that it was kind of breaking me out and having chemical reactions. I then moved on to waxing. I tried to get my face waxed the same way you get your eyebrows waxed at the nail salon and that wasn't working because you know, when you get your eyebrows waxed, it's like a very small piece of wax.
And for the amount of hair that I had, I would've been sitting there all day. And it also needs to be like, if, if you ever wax things like that, they tell you that hair needs to be of a certain length for them to pull it. But it's like, I'm not about to come outside with all of this hair. So it's like, I wanna do something for me to come outside, but then when I come to y'all for the solution, y'all can't grip it. And so it was just an ongoing thing and I used to be so upset, like this is never going to end. My next resort was laser. I tried laser hair removal when I was 16 years old, if I remember correctly. I got it done for my Sweet 16 and I went over, I found somebody who, you know, would pay for it.
And it was the most horrific experience in my life. It hurt so bad. First of all, I have a very low pain tolerance. So that's already one. The laser, the zapping of it and the consistent zapping of it. I was in there bawling, I was bawling and I was like, I never ever, ever wanna do this ever again. And I didn't. And then I tried something that's called, I hope I don't mess it up. I can't think of the name. Oh my God, I can't think of the name. It's gonna come to me. But it's a type of laser. But the difference is with laser, they can zap more than one hair at a time with the other, I can't believe it's not coming to me. But the other, they only zapped one hair at a time and it also wasn't as painful.
Okay. So I started doing that. The only thing with that is that it is more about an out-of-pocket thing. Laser you can get covered under insurance. It was like, do you pay for it and stay there all day? ‘Cause they’re doing it one by one. Or do you let your insurance pay for it and you could have it done in 10 minutes. So I started doing that and then I was just kind of, I was just over it. It was one of those things where I hate it but I'm over it. Yeah. Like, maybe this is just what I'm supposed to be. Whatever. That freed me though, and I'm so grateful I did it because now I can talk about it today. I went on social media one day - on Instagram, and I know you haven't seen my content in a while, but you can attest to the fact that I'm very transparent on social media.
I kind of made a little IG TV video and I was like, you know, “Hi guys, you know, my name is Lauryn and I suffer from, you know”...I always say symptoms of PCOS. I don't want to say it wrong, what is it? Endometriosis. Yes. And I said this is what I have and this is how it affects me. I have facial hair and same thing I'm telling you, I feel like I'll never get married. I feel like I'll never have, you know, have a husband because nobody wants a female like this and things like that. And when I posted it, I was nervous, obviously, because people judge you. But the outpour of the me toos, it was like, you know, “Oh my God, I also suffer from this”. And “I never wanted to say anything.” And “I always feel like this too”, and “What do you do and how do you do?”.
So when I spoke up, something about you now realizing that you're not the only one helps you to move forward. And that also helped, it helped me with my own confidence boosting and my indirect confidence boosting. So I was like, okay Mara, you can do this. And so I went to the doctor one day, my regular pcp and this was very recent May maybe like during the pandemic. And she was saying, you know, how you doing? I said, I'm good, whatever. And she looked at me and I was like, what? And she was like, so what are we gonna do about this hair on your face?
“...something about realizing that you're not the only one helps you to move forward.”
And at first I was kind of offended like Cindy, what are you talking about? What are you up to? That's not why I'm here. And she was like, “You should let me laser you”. And I was like, “Since when do you do laser?” And she said, “I've been doing it for a while”, but she definitely wasn't doing it when I first started going to her. And I explained to her the same thing. I said, listen, I said, I'm not opposed to it, but I had such a bad experience 10 years ago that I'm now afraid to do it. Like the anxiety I have is out of this world. And she was like, Lauryn, let me do it. The best thing about that too is she is a Black woman and so she understood on a different level.
She was able to help me because she knew my skin. You know, she knew how to go about doing laser with my skin as opposed to the people I went to who were not Black. And it just makes a difference if nothing more, it just makes you feel comfortable. It makes you feel seen. Absolutely. and I was like, okay. I made my appointment and I got in there and I'm such a big crier. I'm an emotional person. I cried so much because of how it felt to me 10 years ago that I was even scared now and she talked me through it. You know, she made me understand that the machines are different now. There are different settings now where you can turn it down, you can turn it up and things like that.
“The best thing about that too is she is a Black woman and so she understood on a different level…and it just makes a difference. If nothing more, it just makes you feel comfortable. It makes you feel seen.”
And I was like, okay. And I sat back and I let her do it and it hurt, but it didn't hurt as much as it did 10 years ago. And I just was like, okay. And I remained consistent with it. And the face I have now, I really would never even imagine that I would have 10 years ago. Like, it was such a confident boosting for me. And you can see it. I usually go once a month. I don't really do it that often anymore. But when I first had the issue, I would go like once a month and slowly but surely you could see the differences. I would like to be stopped in the street or go to a restaurant or something. They were like, oh my God, your skin is so flawless. And it would just hit a different nerve in me.
I never felt that way, nor did I ever feel that I could have such skin. So I definitely think in the thick of it, of course, dealing with yourself. Sometimes we're our own worst enemy. Dealing with yourself of course, but then being freed by speaking about it. Mm-Hmm. And then being able to see that you're not the only person. And I think once you're able to admit something, once you're able to talk about something, then you can start the process of fixing it or changing it. So I think if I had not spoke up that day, I'd probably be in the same pity party or you know, feeling the same. So I would definitely say me speaking up was a turning point.
Yeah. You keep this, I noticed that you keep saying free. Like, I freed myself, I freed myself. And I love that so much because you're exactly right. The moment that you acknowledge Yes. Something that's there, the better equipped you are to yes. Confidently speak about it and then Right. Empower the next person to same thing. Tap into their voice and speak up. You know? Right. So I feel like your story is so beautiful and it'll resonate with so many Black women. For sure. And I particularly wanna call out the representation in the healthcare system and how when you got a Black doctor it was like, "Oh, okay, you see me",
Brianna: On the Current Healthcare System(17:58):
You're actually taking your time with me and you're picking up my social cues and things that I'm not saying and how I'm saying what I am able to say. Right. Like all of that matters a great deal. And you know, unfortunately in the healthcare system at large, there are so many stories where Black women are disregarded and not taken that seriously. And so I'm just glad that in your story you didn't let the negative experience deter you from giving a Black woman a Black doctor a shot.
Because that could also happen too. And I'm glad that she made you feel comfortable. Yes. Because that's how you should feel when you go into a healthcare environment. Or a beauty and wellness environment.
Lauryn: On Black Healthcare Professionals (18:52):
Mm-Hmm for sure, I can understand you being scared or anxious and things like that, but that's different from being uncomfortable with her. And now that you say it, I never really thought about it. But definitely her being a Black doctor definitely helps for sure. Because it's like I'm talking to somebody, you look like me, I look like you, you know, and you understand, I'm pretty sure as her being a doctor, you understand, understand that there are differences between our skin and other racist skin and things like that. So not only do you see me as a woman of color, but you see me in your expertise. And that definitely plays a part for sure.
Absolutely. So in the theme of freeing yourself Yes. How did you get from the point of pain, purpose, purpose and action, and now you are and have been solidifying your space in the beauty industry. Not only are you transparently talking about your experiences on whether it be body positivity or beauty specifically or your brand. Like how did you free yourself to start your entrepreneur journey and launch the, is it fair to call it the curvy brand at large with different pillars? Like how do you describe yourself from a brand perspective?
I would describe my brand as the Posh Pretty brand.
Lauryn: On being The Curvy MUA (20:23):
And I would be Curvy- the brand. Curvy came about, and this is a side note, but Curvy came about because as a makeup artist, I was trying to figure out who I wanted to call, how I wanted myself to be seen, how I wanted people to call me and things like that. And I went through different phases, you know, like, like some celebrities people, they don't always go by their real name. Right. It didn't really make a difference to me, but I was like, you know, let's just go for it. And I went through different names. I did my first name, I did my middle name, I did things that rhyme, things that went together. And one day I was just like, who am I? Mm-Hmm. And I was like, well you're Curvy and you're a makeup artist. And so I then changed my handles to the Curvy MUA and people now just call me Curvy for short. If you call me Curvy, I assume that I have done your makeup before or that you know me because of that. Because that was the only industry where people were calling me them. Now it's just stuck. But now that I've moved on to a different section of that and we'll get to that. But now I feel like the brand is Posh Pretty
So take us to your moment of purpose, which we spoke about and that transition from purpose into action and it actually formulating into the posh pretty brand. How did you get that place?
Lauryn: On Building a Brand (21:46):
So I believe, and I will say this the day I die, I believe that for entrepreneurs, I believe that entrepreneurship can either be a skill or it can be a gift. For me, I believe that it is a gift. And I believe that because it's something that I like had to tap into. And once I tapped into it, it was something that came natural for me. My first entrepreneurial journey, I was actually, well, makeup of course. Then I was in college, I remember I was in college and I had a t-shirt business and at the time it was called "My Dog Can Talk". That was the first thing. And then it was all dolls, no plastic. So I was promoting, you know, like you just being genuinely yourself and not having to get the body work done and not having the fillers and things like that, whatever.
“For entrepreneurs, I believe that entrepreneurship can either be a skill or it can be a gift.”
But I was so passionate about my t-shirt business. I would record in between classes. I would go to class, I would have my best friend with me and I'd be like, record this video for me real fast before I gotta go to business law or whatever the case. And I would just be on the campus just doing my thing and just really didn't care about who was watching or things like that because I was so engulfed into doing something. And I realized that everything was coming together because not only was I doing that, but I had decided, I wanna say my sophomore year, that I wanted to major in business. I first started off as a business marketing major. And I was like, I don't wanna sell it. I wanna own it. And so I switched to business management and it kind of just made sense for me.
And I was so engulfed into the business industry. I love the idea of business owning and all of that. I just loved the idea of it. And it just went hand in hand with my T-shirt business. It didn't last because I was passionate about it, but that's not what I really wanted to do. I'm passionate about owning. And so as long as I owned it, I was like, it doesn't matter what I do, as long as I own it. Which then transpired more into me doing makeup. ''cause that was something that I wanted. And I just realized that that was my purpose on Earth. Not necessarily that my purpose was to make something, but my purpose was to be able to own. As I said before, I'm a first generation entrepreneur, so everybody's going right. And then you got me going left, you know, I'm taking the role less traveled, but as hard as it was, and as hard as it is, it comes easy to me.
It comes easy to me to get my feet wet. It comes easy to me to work a nine to five and be like, you know what? I'm gonna work Monday through Thursday because Friday, that's for me and I'm going to do that. And so while everybody's looking at you like, why would you ever do that? My mind doesn't work like yours. And that's why I said I'm gifted with something. Because when you're gifted with something, it follows you. Your gifts make room for you. You know? And it just came easy to me. It comes easy to me. Makeup came easy to me. And like I said, with the story of makeup, it wasn't just the makeup, it was the message behind it. It was the confidence behind it. And I always say my purpose is to help women or boost confidence, I believe because that's always the compliment given to me the most.
“When you're gifted with something, it follows you. Your gifts make room for you. You know?”