Skin Muse Kim: Diversity, Entrepreneurship, & The Importance of Being Seen


Skin Muse Kim:

Diversity, Entrepreneurship, & The Importance of Being Seen

Something I have really taken to heart over the last couple of years is how important it is to feel like you are seen and can be seen in the world. And it's so important because once you see somebody who looks like you doing something that you never before considered, it becomes possible for you to dream bigger, and put yourself in their place. Kim is a shining example of that person in my life. 

I grew up in a tiny town in upstate New York in a village with a population of 600 people. We were literally the only black family in town. Until the age of about 16, I had only been to a hair salon a few times in my life. All of them had been owned and operated by white women, who honestly had probably never met a person of color before, let alone touch their hair.  

Now, being a black woman from the Bronx, my Mom knew that these white women wouldn’t have any idea what to do with my multi-multi-multi cultural hair. But she appeased me once or twice after begging and pleading to get my hair done by a professional. It always ended in disaster.  

A few weeks after visiting one of these salons, long after I combed the AquaNet and hair mousse out of my hair, it was back to me, my mom and my sisters in the kitchen, or in the living room, our feet surrounded by piles of kanekalon hair, or the unmistakable chemical smell of hair relaxer wafting in the air. Both scenes accompanied by soft sniffles throughout our home, as my mom made her way from one tender-headed child to the next, the next Disney DVD queued up to go. 

You should know that
I keep knives inside my kitchen
Oh, not the one you’re thinking
—Jamila Woods, Bubbles

When I moved to New York City, one of the cool and exciting things was to finally be in a place where there SO MANY diverse salons with people of color; literally every and any color of human that you can think of!

What I failed to realize is that regardless of the color of your skin, hair is hair, and it's very difficult to find somebody who understands your hair. 

By the time I moved to Williamsburg, Brooklyn, my partner had already lived in the neighborhood for quite some time. Of course one of the first things you do when moving to a new neighborhood is to find your people! I remember he told me that there was a brown girl that owned a salon called Roots Radicals right around the corner from our apartment and that I should go and check it out. 

When I met Kim, the owner of Roots Radicals, I remember thinking that she was so kind but so cool, and I was intimidated by her. A recurring theme in my life is that the women that I am most drawn to for mentorship and friendship often intimidate me at first.

She was the first person who touched my hair and really understood it. She would say, Oh, your hair does this and this, and I would say YES! And then she would say, Oh, and it probably does this, this, and this, and I would say, YES! YES! 

It was the first time in my life that I really felt seen and understood.

Kim seemed so much further than I was in life. I mean, here was this beautiful brown woman who owned her own hair salon in a predominantly Italian and Polish-American neighborhood, that at the time was just beginning to become gentrified. She had employees and this incredible career, whereas at the time I was still bartending in a restaurant, trying to recover from the reality of the 2009 Great Recession: life and your career isn’t the linear path that was laid out to you by everyone you ever knew your entire life. 

I remember sitting in her chair one day a few years after meeting her. She asked me what was new in life and I sheepishly told her that I was getting my Esthetics license, trying to turn my skincare hobby into a career.

She looked at me in the mirror and said, “Elizabeth I had no idea that you were even interested in that. That's so incredible to hear! I'm so happy for you and I know that your license is going to open up so many doors to help take your business to the next level.”

How many different oils we know,
to turn our skin from brown to gold
—Jamila Woods, Bubbles

When the time came that Kim came to me and asked me to help her with her skin, it was such a pleasure for me to be able to give back to her. She had given me so much more than she ever knew over the years.

Kim came to believe and accept the lie that her skin was shit, and always would be shit. Over the years she tried everything to help to get her breakouts under control, lift her hyperpigmentation, and to create an even tone and texture throughout her face. 

Because I have dealt with similar issues in my own skin, and I have successfully helped other women with melanin-rich, problematic, breakout-prone, hyperpigmented skin, I knew that I would be able to help her too. 

Even though as a practitioner, I know my success rates, and what has worked for myself and my clients in the past, there's always something in the back of my mind that says, “You know, this might not work”, especially when somebody comes to see you as a last resort because they've tried everything else. 

With acne specifically, there are so many factors that contribute to it. From genetics to hormones to lifestyle, there are so many internal and external conditions that can go into causing it. At the same time, I know that if I do my best, and I get the highest quality, ingredients in the hands of my clients, AND they do their part, I've honestly never had anything but success.

Kim is a dream client and she stuck with our plan over the six month period that we have been working on her skin. She did her at-home regimen to a T, including (all PCA products) Facial Wash, A&C Synergy, Acne Gel, Clarifying Retinol, Clearskin, and superfine pumice stone (a favorite exfoliating hack of mine that is super affordable--when my girls are spending upwards of $400 on their skincare products, I try to find as many ways as possible to cut the cost, but still get incredible results!) mixed in with her cleanser 3x a week, and she came in to see me for four Advanced Facial Treatments. The last time I saw her, we did my favorite treatment: The Rejuvenating Facial with a 4% Retinol Peel

These are her results so far. Considering she’s had a lifetime of problematic, dull, breakout-prone skin, I’d say we are on our way to a lifetime of success!

What do you think of Kim’s skincare journey with me? Do you struggle with any of these problems?  I would love to be able to help you on your skincare journey! Drop me a line via email, or in the comments below, so I can be sure to speak to you about how to solve your skin concerns!