Finding a niche in an ever-evolving beauty world is no easy task. Much like every other area of the business, beauty PR is a completely different ball game today than it was even five years ago. Amid the masses of brands, influencers, and media outlets struggling to find and redefine their identities in the age of social media, Liv Lewis is working behind-the-scenes with one underlying goal in mind — purpose.
Lewis started her career in the throes of agency PR over 15 years ago, after graduating from the University of Maryland®, College Park, with a communications degree. After a post-baccalaureate internship at a boutique firm in Paris, and working as a temp for Unilever Cosmetics InternationalTM stateside, Lewis realized that her calling was beauty PR. “As I was interviewing for full-time work, one of my colleagues at Calvin Klein® gave me advice that informed my career,” she recalls. “She said that in-house roles were great, but if I really wanted to learn the fundamentals of PR, working at a public relations agency was where I would learn the most and at a fast pace.” From there, she became an Assistant Account Executive working on launch strategies and media relations outreach for accounts like Neutrogena®, Bath and Body Works®, and more.
Since then, she’s navigated her way into an executive role, which has become about so much more than helping new products hit shelves — and that evolution of her job wasn’t by chance. Lewis specifically strove to hone in on the projects and people she felt most passionate about, and the fact that she was often one of the only women of color at the table in meetings helped her to shift her focus. Today, she works to create a more normalized presence for women of color — the largest consumer category — in the beauty space. Here, she shares the not-so-straight, but lesson-filled road she’s taken to find her personal and professional purpose.
Spotlyte: Tell us about your current role.
Liv Lewis: I’m the Senior Vice President of Client Experiences at Egami Groupsm. Egami Group is an award-winning, integrated multicultural marketing and communications agency that activates a brand’s purpose. We do this via three touchpoints: culture, community, and cause. My job is to ensure that our clients’ objectives are met, and that we deliver strategic, creative, and breakthrough ideas that over-deliver on expectations. Currently, I work on the communications efforts and influencer strategy for the My Black Is BeautifulTM brand (a retail platform and haircare products line that acknowledges, elevates, and supports all that is beautiful and varied about black culture) and Olay’s® African American-focused initiatives.
Spotlyte: How’d you get into this role?
LL: Very intentionally. After taking a three-year sabbatical — I exhibited signs of burnout and I also had an identity crisis! — I was trying to figure out who I was as a new mom and an executive in a very demanding field. If I were to re-enter the communications field, I knew that I wanted to be at a place that did work that was purposeful and I wanted the opportunity to add value. I wanted to take what I had learned and pour it into an agency that was looking for someone with my experience — and trusted, respected, and welcomed my ideas and recommendations. I also knew I wanted to do work that mattered!
Egami Group’s founder, Teneshia Jackson Warner, was one of the pioneers of “purpose marketing” and pushed the idea that doing good was good for business. I have immense pride in knowing that the agency I work for was one of the first to be doing work that was purposeful, and it spoke volumes about the kind of work that I’d be doing.
Spotlyte: Have you strategically positioned your career path to focus on women of color (WoC)?
LL: Actually, no! My background is primarily focused on targeting the general market — but because I was typically one of the only WoC in an organization, I was pulled in to provide counsel when the agency was working on a campaign that targeted multicultural women. It wasn’t until I started working on the My Black Is Beautiful platform that the work started to feel personal, and that the conversations I was having with my clients were the very same conversations I was having with my friends. It didn’t feel like work to me — the programs I was working on felt like passion projects.
Spotlyte: From your perspective, how has the beauty industry evolved since you started working in the business?
LL: I’m not gonna date myself, but my career began in the early 2000s. Back then, there was a lack of representation (ethnicity, race, gender, etc.). If you looked at advertising or the images portrayed, there’d be one [type of] individual — and even that didn’t feel inclusive. Today, brands would be considered tone deaf if they didn’t evolve to have an inclusive approach to their narrative and images. Brands like Fenty® shook up the industry in their approach. They set the bar for what a truly inclusive product and campaign should be.
What happened post-Fenty is that iconic brands began trying to do the same, because they were seeing how well the brand was doing. You can also tell that the individuals who work on the brand are diverse, because the campaigns and insights are spot on. It’s been refreshing to see the shift — I felt seen because I saw myself in the ads, I saw representation across the board, and it felt good to know that my daughter would see images of diverse beauty reflected in beauty ads.
Spotlyte: What do you think are the biggest challenges right now, specifically for women of color, in the beauty industry?
LL: I don’t want to say “biggest challenges.” I don’t want WoC to think we made it and that we can relax. The first thing I would say to WoC is to keep going and reach higher. The second thing I would say to WoC is to make room for others. Be the person that becomes the bridge. Be the person that looks back and helps others navigate this field. Be the person that is vocal about lack of representation if they see it, or bias if that is depicted.
Spotlyte: How do you feel about the fact that brands seem to finally be making diversity and inclusion a priority? What do you think caused the shift?
LL: I don’t know if I would use the word “priority.” There are some brands who are afraid to say anything, because of the fear of getting it wrong. I can understand the fear, because we have seen brands get it wrong — that is why you hire experts to help them create and tell their diversity and inclusion stories. There is much to be done. Yes, brands are checking the box, but it’s not enough.
Spotlyte: Tell us about your makeup routine. What do you do daily and what do you use?
LL: Because on any given day, I could be in the office for a meeting with a client, run to potential lunch meetings, or go to an evening event, my routine accounts for what I call “stacking” — being able to take a look from daytime, then transition to nighttime. This typically involves a red lip.
First, I prep: After cleansing my face with Olay Regenerist® Luminous Foaming Cleanser, for additional moisture, I spray Mario Badescu [Skin Care]® Facial Spray with Aloe, Herbs, and Rose Water, followed by Charlotte Tilbury’s® Magic CreamTM and Magic Eye RescueTM. I prime my skin with Laura Mercier’s® Foundation Primer in Radiance Bronze.
Spotlyte: What’s next?
LL: If there are no events scheduled for the day, I use Laura Mercier’s Tinted Moisturizer with SPF 20 in Mocha. I correct any blemishes with Bobbi Brown’s® Skin Foundation Stick in Warm Almond. It gives me enough coverage without my skin looking overly covered. For my eyes, I usually go with a bronze/gold color, and I’m obsessed with The Nubian By Juvia’s® Pressed Pigment Palette. The colors are vibrant and really make my eyes pop. My go-to eyeliner is KVDTM Vegan Beauty’s Waterproof Tattoo Liner. For the waterline, I love Smashbox® Always Sharp® Waterproof liner. I wish I could wear individual lash extensions, but my eyes are very sensitive. So for mascara, I use Hourglass® — it makes me look like I have lashes! I believe in the power of a manicured brow, so I use Anastasia’s® Brow Pencil in Dark Brown and Tinted Brow Gel.
For cheeks, I use MAC’s® Blush in RaizinTM and highlight my cheekbones with Becca® Shimmering Skin Perfector Pressed in Topaz or Opal. (For a softer, more natural look, I’ll opt for Opal. For a bronze or glowed-up look, I’ll go for Topaz.) My lips are one of my favorite features. I typically use a nude gloss that has a hint of pink. My current obsession is Pat McGrath Labs® Lust:Gloss® in Flesh FantasyTM. For a more pigmented or polished look, I use MAC's Retro Matte® Lip Colour in Gemz and RosesTM. It has a pink and gold hue that is simply gorgeous. My other go-to is Fenty’s Gloss Bomb®. I dust with Laura Mercier’s Translucent Powder in Medium Deep, and finish with 2-3 spritzes of Caudalie’s® Beauty ElixirTM.
Spotlyte: What about days when you have an event?
LL: I use MAC’s Studio Fix® Fluid SPF 15 liquid foundation and MAC’s Studio FinishTM Concealer SPF 35 in NC45. For eyes, I spend more time and attempt a bronzed smokey eye using The Nubian By Juvia’s Pressed Pigment Palette. I’ll go the extra mile and wear false lashes to make my eyes stand out; I use KahlanaTM #21 by Huda BeautyTM false lashes. To complete my look, I rock a red lip! I’m drawn to orange-based reds and obsessed with Fenty’s StunnaTM. For a bolder red, I wear MAC’s Retro Matte Liquid Lip Colour in Fashion LegacyTM.
Spotlyte: What's your skin routine? Please share what you use and how often.
LL: I’m a believer that if you don’t take care of your skin, then all else won’t work! I exfoliate and moisturize in the morning and evening. To exfoliate, I’m obsessed with Ole Henriksen® Pore-Balance Facial Sauna Scrub. When applied to skin, there is a warming sensation and the scent is delightful! I’m obsessed with sheet masks — honestly, it's ridiculous. I love GlamGlow’s® Selfie-ApprovedTM Cleans + Glow Sheet Mask Trio — I use them weekly, typically on Sunday, as part of my self-care routine.
Spotlyte: What's your anti-aging philosophy?
LL: My philosophy is similar to how you would think about a great bottle of wine — it gets better with age!
Spotlyte: What's your hair routine, either daily or weekly?
LL: I wear protective styles all the time, mainly because I don’t have the time or patience for my natural hair. In between protective styles, I use My Black Is Beautiful Golden Milk Product CollectionTM. Pre-styling, I use Creme of Nature’s® Pure Honey Leave-In Conditioner, and for moisture, I mix a cocktail of Pantene® Gold SeriesTM Hydrating Butter-Creme and Intense Hydrating Oil, and apply from root to tip. When I’m wearing a protective style, I use Head and Shoulders® Royal OilsTM products, because they really help with scalp health. The Instant Soothe Scalp ElixirTM is my absolute favorite!
Spotlyte: Do you have a self-care routine? What does that look like/involve?
LL: Yes — and it involves surrounding myself with all the things that bring me joy. It’s taking care of my mind, body, and soul. I’m very intentional in setting priorities to ensure I put myself first. It wasn’t always this way, but after facing burnouts, I’ve learned that if I’m pouring out of an empty cup, then my kids and responsibilities at work will suffer. My routine begins very early in the morning, at 4 a.m.
Spotlyte: Why so early?
LL: The wake-up time is something I can’t believe myself, but I’ve realized that is when I'll be able to focus — before my kids are up. The day starts with meditation, prayer, a cup of strong coffee, and then I head to the gym to workout. This helps me to maintain the stamina of very long days and also alleviate stress.
I’m a huge believer in getting plenty of sleep, because a lot of my work is mental — if I’m tired, I find that I’m not at my best for client deliverables! Because I get up so early, I typically am in bed by 8:30 p.m. I love the CalmTM app, because it helps with meditation techniques, sounds, bedtime stories (even ones for adults!). I don’t look at devices 45 minutes prior to bedtime — I put all devices on “Do Not Disturb.” I use the 45 minutes to plan for the next day, read, and stretch. I spray my sheets with The White Company’s® Sleep RelaxTM Lavender and Chamomile Soothing Sleep Mist. Finally, I love to take a clarity break in August every year and use this time to get quiet and get clear on goals, recalibrate, and rest. Many decisions are made during this trip.
Spotlyte: When do you feel most beautiful?
LL: After I’ve rested and have practiced self-care. For a long time, I was focused on external beauty; as I’ve gotten older (and wiser), I’ve realized that if my inner-self is nurtured, I reflect that outwardly. I get some of my most creative ideas when I’m either applying moisturizer or waiting for my mask to dry.
Spotlyte: Any 2020 beauty trend predictions?
LL: We'll continue to see products and initiatives that assist in helping women love the skin they are in — the continued rise of celebrating and accentuating the uniqueness of women of color.
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