Photography by RVP Photography.
Sylvia Brownlee knows the power of skincare when it comes to self-confidence. After graduating from cosmetology school, she spent ten years working in a high-profile salon before becoming director of education at a renowned skin care institution. In that role, while working with people who suffered from acne and hyperpigmentation, she discovered her passion, eventually taking a leap of faith and founding Skin by Brownlee & Co. in Cincinnati, Ohio, with the purpose of teaching others how to love and care for their skin. Recently, we sat down with Brownlee to learn more about her experience as a business owner, the best advice she’s received, and, as we celebrate Black Business Month, to ask her about other Black-owned businesses in her community.
TSG: Can you please tell us a little bit about yourself?
SB: I’ve been a licensed esthetician for twenty-six years, and been in business for myself for six years, specializing in acne and hyperpigmentation. We take the guesswork out of clients’ skincare routines.
“What I love most about owning my own business is being able to see what’s going well and where improvements can be made, and being able to make those instantly.”
TSG: What do you love most about owning your own business?
SB: What I love most is being able to see what’s going well and where improvements can be made, and being able to make those instantly. I also love the fact that every day I get to help increase the self-esteem and confidence of women through skincare.
TSG: What are you most proud of as a business owner?
SB: Being in business for six years is an incredible milestone to have hit, especially since COVID.
TSG: What challenges have you faced? How have you overcome them?
SB: Growing a clientele from scratch takes dedication and consistency, and staying the course was necessary. [I overcame that by] understanding that everyone is not your client, and that’s okay.
TSG: What’s the best piece of advice you’ve received?
SB: To not give up on my dream, find a mentor, and if you aren’t great at it and it takes up too much of your time, outsource it.
TSG: What’s next for you?
SB: Personally, I’m engaged, so planning a wedding and running a business is a challenge all in itself. Professionally, I’m also growing the brand and staying innovative to give clients more of what they want to see when it comes to skincare. We have a couple new products launching soon as well.
TSG: Do you have any advice for people who might be interested in increasing their support for Black-owned businesses?
SB: Share the information about the business with your network, and leave reviews—Yelp, Google—this is so helpful.
TSG: Can you provide a list of Black-owned businesses in your community that readers should know about?