We had the good fortune of connecting with Alexis Holman and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Alexis, what was your thought process behind starting your own business?
“Something’s gotta give.” That was my thought process behind starting my own business for several reasons. I was working at Starbucks and I hated it there. The manager and coworkers were amazing but, it just wasn’t the place for me long term. I had gone vegan about a year prior and I had begun to change a lot of my eating habits, but food wasn’t the only non-vegan variable in my life– I’d found that makeup, too, included a lot of animal based additives. I had been a freelance makeup artist for a couple of years and, naturally, I started reading the back of makeup labels. A friend once told me “it’s almost a political movement to be vegan” and, boy, was she right. In the past years, I’ve found myself reading food and cosmetic packaging, exhaustedly exclaiming “WHY is there pork in this?” or “Was milk absolutely necessary here?” and my favorite, “Bugs?! Oh come ON!” but such is the life of anyone determined to change their physical and mental health. Anyway, my new interest in a plant-based diet, propelled my interest in plant-based cosmetics, as most of my favorite products were far from plant-based.On top of that, they were expensive and didn’t last very long. So my thought was, “I’m going to make plant-based makeup products that aren’t a million dollars a bottle” But I didn’t want to just do products that were plant-based but had a crazy unpronounceable name and had been toxically processed; I wanted literal plants– actual flower petals, organic essential oils, raw and natural butters — to be the basis of my brand. Through a whole lot of trial and error, my Vegan Skincare Bar, Brelon Essentials, was born.
Can you give our readers an introduction to your business? Maybe you can share a bit about what you do and what sets you apart from others?
Brelon Essentials is the first Online Vegan Skincare Bar. What that means is, similar to beauty bars, we cater to all things skin related– soaps, makeup, fragrance oils, even durags, all of our products were created with great skin and adequate skincare in mind. Additionally, every product is vegan and organic, made from actual plants. Some of them, though not recommended, are even edible. That’s what sets me apart from others. The initial goal has been and always will be to remind people that plants are for more than just hanging in your house and putting in your salad. Centuries ago, before there were major beauty brands, our ancestors lived off the land. You can even see it throughout biblical text: plants were used for everything from marriage preparation to spiritual and physical purification: they were very important. People long before us still desired to be beautiful and heal skin ailments, but before we had mass factories and environmentally toxic chemicals, we had plants, so that’s what I want to go back to– that knowledge that you don’t have to process and extract everything that goes on the skin in order to get it to function the way you want to. Raw natural plants do the trick on their own.
Of course starting your own business isn’t easy, but no one ever talks about the mental aspect of it, just the physical, so that’s what I want to highlight. During the time of COVID, you’ve got a ton of small brands like yours popping up here and there and though mine is unique in its own way, I think it still gets a little discouraging seeing that your market is drastically over populated. And then with celebrities starting their own brands left and right, you hit this kind of depressive point where you’re like “Okay, why am I doing this again?” I spent a lot of time talking myself out of that hole, I still have to every now and then. There’s also that issue of doubt that tries to creep in unnoticed, where one moment you’re super confident and the next you’re looking at all the other successful businesses, fairly certain you’ll never be as good as them. Which brings up yet another challenging mental aspect; We know rule number one in any career path is to not compare yourself to others, but it can be difficult not to, especially when it seems like the business never hit any hardships, it was just popular from the start. The best way to conquer any of the mental trials ownership brings is to force yourself back to reality. Literally do whatever you have to do, take a nap, go for a walk, pray, cry, scream a little bit, vent to someone you trust but do something that’s going to help you clear your head. A solid support system is so important in these situations, even if that “system” is only you and another person. Mental health is generally pretty underrated, but since the physical work can be so taxing, we often over look the mental strain business owners go through. It’s so easy for sleep deprived nights to turn into stressed out days, but this is why taking a breather, and a nap, can be so helpful. I’m a big bible reader so for me, its helpful to read what scripture says about staying calm and over coming challenges. I also find that comparing myself to myself has made a world of difference. Being able to see where I was in comparison to where I am or what I know compared to what I thought I knew always puts a smile on my face. Your biggest competition truly is your old self, not other people or brands. I try to be better than her, who I used to be, every day, in every way.
But all in all, I’d say I’m proud of all that my business is. It’s been tough and I’ve had to make some changes, including a complete rebranding, but I’m excited about just being able to acknowledge that I made something that not only works, but helps people and allows them to feel more confident.
Let’s say your best friend was visiting the area and you wanted to show them the best time ever. Where would you take them? Give us a little itinerary – say it was a week long trip, where would you eat, drink, visit, hang out, etc.
Alright, so truth time… I am THE worst hostess. I’m a far better tourist because I like to see new places but at home, I like to be in the house curled up with a good book or on the couch binge watching Downton Abbey or I Love Lucy or something from Animal Planet. But, when I was slightly more sociable, I was a major brunch girl. I like my wineries and nice views so, on the first day, we’d probably do something like that: find a nice place to sip wine and eat crackers at. I really like the San Antonio Winery so that could be a cool day trip. Then on day two, we’d probably find some new spot to eat lunch at. I’m big on hidden gems and undiscovered restaurants so that’s one thing that’s a must do for me. I live in Santa Clarita so on day three, we could explore the western part of town. I think way back when, that specific part on and around Main street was very wild west-ish and while the culture can be a bit of a bittersweet memory depending on your side of things, it is nice to explore parts of history. There’s also some great places to eat there. Day four I’d like to find a nice park to walk around and take pictures at. There’s a lot of great spots in Northridge I’ve visited, that are great just to sit at and watch the ducks. Day 5 we could find more places to eat at, but I’m going to be honest, at this point in the week, I’d have run out of ideas to entertain my guest. The good thing is, my real life friends are homebodies too and prefer to do one thing during the week then hang out at home the rest of the time, so me not having ideas wouldn’t be so terrible. Day six would be muddled through like day five, though I’d probably see if they had anywhere they’d like to visit. People tend to want to see downtown (though I’m not a fan) so maybe we’d do that. We could even take pictures on notable streets, like Rodeo, just to say we went. Day 7 would be the last day and the best one because we’d be observing our day of rest and going absolutely nowhere. Doing extroverted things is pretty difficult for in introvert so that Sabbath would be a highly anticipated one for me. We could have wine and enriching discussions in the house while soaking in the best view of them all…the living room.
Who else deserves some credit and recognition?
It’s been a long, hectic, year-long journey and with any long, hectic journey you’ll need to make several stops along the way to recharge, recuperate and remember to enjoy the view. That’s how I look at everyone who been apart of my journey in one way or another: they’ve helped me recharge, recuperate and remember to enjoy the view. It’s unfair of me to single one particular person or one particular event out without excluding several others, but I am astoundingly grateful for every single person who has done anything to keep me grounded and help keep my business afloat. Of course I tell them this frequently, but I appreciate the opportunity to do it publicly. So, for every family member, friend, former co-worker, acquaintance and even complete strangers who decided to take a chance on a small black owned business… Thank you. Thank you for reminding me that, in all I do, put The Most High first. Thank you for keeping me grounded both physically and spiritually. Thank you for reminding me to slow down when I’m running around like a chicken with my head cut off. Thank you for being my model and brand ambassador. Thank you for trying products and giving feedback. Thank you for your rave reviews on my men’s masks. Thank you for being my first sale. Thank you for sharing my posts. Thank you for following my business on social media. Thank you for encouraging me when I felt low and like my business wasn’t going anywhere. Thank you for booking me for your wedding. Thank you for buying my products as a gift for your husband. Thank you for listening to me vent. Thank you for being my shoulder to cry on. Thank you for purchasing from me. Thank you for entering my giveaways. Thank you for the business advice. Thank you for reminding me that my time IS taxable. Thank you for checking on me, just to see if I was okay. And for every other event that I don’t have time to spell out here…thank you for helping me recharge, recuperate and remember to enjoy the view.
Instagram: @BrelonEssentials https://www.instagram.com/brelonessentials/
Twitter: @BrelonSkinBar https://twitter.com/brelonskinbar
Facebook: Brelon Essentials https://www.facebook.com/BrelonEssentials/
Youtube: Beauty by Brelon https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCn5WN3e57BavnIVgey7aPWA