creative partner, LARK Skin Co.
what does confidence mean to you?
To me, having confidence is not seeking permission to act like yourself. For so long I was looking to other people to validate me and my actions. It wasn’t until I got older I realized I don’t need others to give me permission to be myself.
I grew up in a loving home, but just like every family we had our turbulent times. Until I was 12, my mother struggled with disordered eating. As the oldest daughter of two, it affected my confidence in ways I wouldn’t sort out until later in life (read: now), but I got along just fine.
To me, getting along was making sure I was checking all of the boxes: graduate from a four-year university, get a well-paying job, get married, have kids and leave said well-paying job to watch said kids. And do all of this because that’s what you’re supposed to do, how you become normal and how you achieve success.
But somewhere along the path I realized that my future didn’t have to be a set of checked-boxes, it could look however I wanted it to. I was afraid of what everyone would think, but with the support of my husband and family, I left the corporate world and started my own marketing consulting company, SMALLSTRAND.
Ironically, that business is what connected me with Lisa Dolan, and after a few months I pressed pause on SMALLSTRAND and focused on LARK Skin Co. full-time. Becoming co-owner of LARK and Lisa’s Creative Partner has been everything I have pictured for my career. Just another way I’m realizing there are no accidents in life.
So now here we are, I’m sitting at the helm of a skincare company alongside my business partner. We have big ideas for growth and even bigger ideas for propelling this cultural shift. I’m feeling fulfilled, inspired and excited to execute our work. But there was something going on a bit deeper.
A few days after our second photo shoot for the campaign, I had a breakdown. All of these self-hatred thoughts I thought I had under control, or worse yet, I thought were “normal thoughts”, came flooding out of me at once. I felt like such a fraud — here I am working with the most beautiful women inside and out to promote confidence and break through cultural ideals — yet I am wrought with self-doubting shame. How can I preach something I don’t even believe myself? It's been a long time coming (about 29 and a half years), but I'm ready to do the deep work.
This entire process, from signing on at LARK to hitting “publish” on this webpage has been life-changing. This company, these women and this message are making a difference, and I am living proof of that. My true self-healing journey has just started, but I’m looking forward to seeing where it takes me.
"I felt like such a fraud — here I am working with the most beautiful women inside and out to promote confidence and break through cultural ideals — yet I am wrought with self-doubting shame. How can I preach something I don’t even believe myself?"
When is your first memory of feeling confident?
When I was younger, maybe 5 or 6, I started to write “books” for my family — a string of scribbles on the backs of pages from my Dad’s notepads. We would staple them together and I would pass them around from family member to family member, asking them to write “book reviews” on the back page. I collected them and soon had a library of my works. I've never been more confident in something I've created (otherwise not so sure I would have had a whole page dedicated to reviews!).
What makes you feel most confident now? How has this changed?
Now, I feel most confident whenever I’m creating. It’s like I’ve finally gotten back to my five-year-old book-writing self (why didn’t I listen to her sooner?). Creating now looks a little different — art directing photo shoots, designing websites, creating copy for marketing materials, but it ignites the same sense of joy I had back in first grade with crayons in hand, writing on that Fisher-Price desk.
When is your first memory of feeling insecure? Why did you feel this way or what made you feel this way?
I’m sure there are several before this, but my first real memory of feeling insecure was when I was 14. My skin went from normal and clear to severely acne prone and scarred. I was the youngest patient my dermatologist had put on Accutane at the time, and was told it was the worse acne she’d seen in a prepubescent female. To boot, my keratosis pilaris (KP) flared up on the back of my arms and top of my legs, so in addition to oral and topical acne medications, I also had to apply cream nightly and saran wrap my extremities to let it soak in overnight. Yikes.
I was never made fun of too badly, but the insecurities were there — they came from family and doctors trying to “cure me” as well as the media and beauty brands. All around I was unknowingly pressured to look a certain way. And because I couldn’t achieve clear, smooth skin, I “learned” I was never going to be that beautiful.
A lot of my skin concerns, including acne, KP and now hyper-pigmentation are still there, but that doesn’t drain from my confidence in the overwhelming way it used to. I’ve learned that that’s actually normal — I have changed my skincare routine and diet and now I’m learning how to love my flaws. I approach skincare with a nourishing mentality, not a fighting mentality, and it helps me grow in confidence.
What is something you’re most proud of?
I’m equally proud of two things: 1) quitting my full time job to start my own business, and 2) this Campaign for Confidence.
WHAT ADVICE WOULD YOU GIVE TO YOUR YOUNGER SELF?
Always be kind to others, but don't forget to be kind to yourself. An addition to the golden rule. Learned that one nearly 30 years to late!
How are you using your platform to make a difference?
I don’t want other young women to feel put down by beauty brands the way that I did starting at age 14. Especially in today’s world where you’re subjected to millions of marketing a day! I want to use our voice, our platform, to change the conversation around confidence and encourage women to embrace what makes them beautiful.