Beauty Entrepreneur Jodie Patterson on Her Unconventional Road to the Industry
Over at Doobop—an e-commerce site that offers a range of hair, skin, and makeup products carefully curated for women of color—beauty-obsessed entrepreneur and the company's cofounder Jodie Patterson heads up Loudmouth blog, a collection of insightful interviews with inspiring women, from Kerry Washington to Iman. According to Patterson, women of color were well overdue for a public platform that allowed them to have conversations about their specific beauty needs and to shop for products that targeted those very concerns.
But what qualified her to bring this innovative beauty initiative to the digital space? An "intentionally eclectic" career path she says. Here, Patterson walks us through her journey to beauty from being a circus acrobat (really!) to working with Zac Posen, and everything in between, plus the beauty tips she learned along the way.
How'd you get your start?
"My segue into the beauty industry was a lifestyle journey. I went into many different professions. Straight out of college, I was in book publishing as a junior editor. Then, I went into the music industry and worked with artists like D'Angelo on the management side. Next, I went into nightlife and launched Joe's Pub [a performance venue] at The Public Theater in N.Y.C. and did all of their public relations—I'm still a co-owner of the Pub to this day. Then, magazine publishing! I worked at Vibe on the sales side and then went back to PR. I set up my own firm and eventually worked as director of PR for Zac Posen.
"When I was pregnant with my second child—I have five children now—I realized that I needed to do something that would be compatible with the idea that women can have big careers and big families, so I decided to start my own beauty brand called Georgia. First, I launched with a retail store in downtown N.Y.C., selling brands from all over the world, to women from all over the world as the area was attracting tourists from overseas. I launched a brand [of skin and hair products] called Georgia as well and started selling the products in the boutique."
Was it difficult to transition into beauty having such a diverse career background?
"I wasn't very strategic in my business. I jumped into [starting Georgia] naively and passionately and did it all from the gut, so the transition to beauty was scary but also exhilarating. As entrepreneurs, we need to respond to our intuition because what the eyes can't see and what the fingers can't touch can take a business from good to great and from interesting to unforgettable. Use it, rely on it, and cherish it.
"The scariest part was going from brick-and-mortar to digital. Being up close with customers at Georgia and having long conversations about beauty all day, I was able to understand what they liked and what they didn't respond to. I ended up closing the store but continued blogging about everything that the customers and I had been talking about behind closed doors for so long. Eventually, I thought that women deserved a public platform [for these conversations] and that turned into Doobop, which is a bit of a store and a bit of a magazine. I thought the digital space was all about technology but storytelling is at its core. We just use digital technology to share our stories in ways we'd never dreamed before."
How did those past experiences prepare you for your beauty venture?
"Editing books was a thoughtful and mindful process. Being in the music industry you operate on what moves you physically and spiritually. Nightlife is all about feeling and first impressions. I was even in the Big Apple Circus! I was the acrobat on top of two other people, which was super scary but you train your body to work with your mind, practice, and do things that you thought you couldn't do. So I draw from all of my experiences in everything that I do. It sounds like a lot, but it all feels very relative to me."
Now, as a bona fide beauty expert, what has been the proudest moment in your newfound career?
"The most recent thing that really got me smiling was when I started looking at the beauty industry as the industry of identity. All the purchases that we make are about emotions that we have way before we get to the counter, which inspired me to open up the conversation over on the Doobop blog. I care more about what we're thinking than what we look like, and when I started talking about emotion, people said thank you! I was really happy that women were ready to investigate beauty from an emotional angle. I did an exclusive interview with Kerry Washington where we talked more about who raised her and where her mind was than we did about Scandal or her favorite lipstick color. And I had great engagement. I also have great engagement when I have conversations about my transgender son. People have different opinions about it but we should talk about things were once taboo."
Any beauty advice that you can offer women in each of the fields that you've worked in?
"Well, as a behind-the-scenes person in the music industry, of course you don't need to compete with your artist in terms of your makeup and hair but there's room to be slightly indulgent with your look. However, it's less about lipstick and more about attitude. In book publishing, just as the packaging of a book is less [of a priority] for a publisher, outward appearances are less of a concern too. You should look pulled together, but makeup doesn't say: "She's here to do the job." And although you would think that everyone is high-end in fashion, you'll notice that top editors and executives in the fashion industry aren't wearing a lot of makeup. They have a clean face, and let the clothing speak for itself. In fashion, the creative expression is through the clothing. In music, it's in the music, and in literature, it's through the quality of work."
How have those beauty standards changed now that you're an entrepreneur in the beauty industry—and on some days, a stay-at-home mom?
"In the beauty industry, you can play with makeup! I would never recommend highlighting every asset of your face all at once, but you can go into a meeting with a defined eyebrow or a bright lip and it's totally apropos.
"When I work from home, I take face breaks so I don't wear makeup but I do a whole routine a couple times a day. When I wake up, I put oil on my skin and after I take my kids to school, I do an eight-step skin care routine that I enjoy. I love the Caudalie Beauty Elixir ($18; sephora.com) and Nuhanciam Cleansing Micellar Water ($20; doobop.com). I apply Philosophy's [Purity Made Simple] Mask ($25; philosophy.com), then I brush my teeth, brush my hair and wash it off. Tata Harper [Rejuvenating] Serum ($98; tataharperskincare.com) is aromatherapy for me. I put it on and it changes my whole attitude at my desk. I've also been using an electric current tool on my face. I do it for a facial exercise to get my skin feeling a little perky if I'm sluggish in the morning. It takes about 20 minutes so I do it when I'm checking social media. It's the little things like changing your face game that are really good self-care moments."
Talks of a book are also in the works for Patterson—we'll keep you posted on the deets!