We had the good fortune of connecting with Lashelle Ullie and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Lashelle, can you tell us about a book that has had a meaningful impact on you?
Social Impact: How does your business help the community or the world? As an esthetician, I truly believe that when people look good and feel good, they really can do good in other aspects of their lives. I also believe in breaking down toxic masculinity, and one way I’ve been able to do that is through my skin care and grooming services. I am able to show men that self-care is self-respect, and that a good skin care routine isn’t just about vanity or being “feminine” — and there’s nothing wrong with embracing that aspect of themselves, either. I view what I do as part of a holistic hygiene and wellness regimen. We spend money on a good diet, the gym, and clothing — I help my clients see that things like facials and brow grooming aren’t just about “pampering,” and even so, they shouldn’t feel ashamed about treating themselves. I try to meet my male clients where they are in that journey. It’s really about taking care of the largest organ in your body and making sure that it’s healthy because it’s our first line of defense. It’s about putting our best face forward so they can have that confidence in their professional and personal lives — that’s not a male or female thing. As a HIV positive Black gay man, I’ve also experienced first-hand the power of self-care on my own self-esteem as well as in my clients. which is why I created my foundation, I Am Back. When I was in recovery from substance abuse, I remember the times when I didn’t feel my best. So I started volunteering at Covenant House, women’s shelters, and drug and alcohol recovery homes and gave people free beauty and skin care treatments. Now I go to treatment and resource centers and offer free workshops to help people look and feel their best, even if it’s a little lipstick or a massageI just wanted to do something because I understood what beauty really does for someone who really needs that emotional and spiritual lift.
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?
I am in the business of self-care and bringing awareness to its importance in the quality of life. What sets me apart is how I blend my beauty and grooming skills with psychology concepts in order to create a new type of personal care clinic. This approach can help bring self-empowerment and self-enlightenment that produces an elevated sense of holistic health. It allows me to have a more direct and positive impact on how my clients view themselves both externally and internally. In this self care revolution, I am excited to educate and broaden this particular perspective of self-care. The process of developing my unique approach to beauty and grooming was not easy. When people think of beauty, they often think of something superficial. Beauty is often used as a marketing tool to change who you are or aspire to be a singular ideal of what beauty should be. But after my own self-discovery journey and working with people who have been through life-threatening illnesses and recovery, I’m able to channel my experiences through beauty to heal and empower from the inside and out. I had to look to those experiences to help me overcome the challenges. The lesson I have learned along the way is to do the necessary internal work to change your life to heal and grow. Put God first and do something that makes you happy and let go of the expectations. I want the world to understand that I am not perfect; I do not try to sell “perfection.” It’s about being of service to those who need it using the gifts God has given you…THAT is the essence of my business and brand.
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.
I’d definitely make it a point to take them to E. Baldi in Beverly Hills. This is my go-to restaurant for authentic Italian food, and I love its European ambiance, style, and elegance that feels unpretentious, mixed with fine dining. A night out would include the Sky Bar at the Mondrian hotel, it’s a West Hollywood hotspot that is great for mixing with LA’s sexy and chicest set, and there’s cool music and a chill vibe. Of course,West Hollywood is also a boys town— the hottest, most fun area for the gays in Los Angeles. If we’re going for a more low-key night, I’d take them to see the LA Philharmonic. I go here to experience the best in classical music and theatre. It’s a place that speaks to my spirit! The Perch in Downtown LA is also one of my favorite restaurants. I’m a romantic for the feel of the 1920s and 30s, and on the rooftop of this place transports you back in time! It’s great for French cuisine, Friday night cocktails, and socializing. While we’re in the area, I’d go to the open-air center Row DTLA, ArtShare LA, and the Art Walk — these spots are the urban pulse of the city and the best new artists in LA.
The Shoutout series is all about recognizing that our success and where we are in life is at least somewhat thanks to the efforts, support, mentorship, love and encouragement of others. So is there someone that you want to dedicate your shoutout to?
There are so many people and communities that have helped me get to where I am today. My professional mentor, Damone Roberts, who’s also a Black gay man, had a successful and internationally-renowned salon in Beverly Hills. He took a chance on me and shaped me into the business owner I am today. My spiritual brother, Derl Howard, is my mentor from church. He keeps me on the path of growing in understanding with God! I also owe so much to my recovery community. They have given me a fellowship and community of sobriety, self-love, and support. My spiritual community has also been a source of inspiration: One Church LA, Agape Church, and Change Church. I love listening to their spiritual messages and teachings daily to stay in practice. I’m also inspired by DeVon Franklin and his ability to blend his love of God into all that he does professionally and personally. Last but not least, I have to give a shout-out to my nieces and nephews —they have inspired me to be an example of pushing through limitations to be a better human being.
All image credits in file name — CREDIT-LUCRATIF, CREDIT-Kei Moreno, etc. All others: Courtesy of Lashelle Ullie”