say that it’s a regret, because you learn from every experience. But, what I try to do now is trust my gut instinct. There is no way for us to know without trying, and then you try to medicate the loss as much as possible. I feel like I’ve gotten to a place where I’m making more educated guesses.
EBONY: How has your inner voice driven you from being this small brand in your kitchen to a national celebrity-driven line?
LP: I’ve definitely had to rely on myself a lot. I’ve learned a lot because of it; I’ve grown a lot because of it. I’m very much a different person today than I was five and 10 years ago. I’ve gotten stronger; I’m less fearful of taking risks. I still get nervous, but less so. What I’ve learned is, I can’t always control what’s going to happen around me. I don’t know what’s going to happen with the economy sometimes. We don’t even know what’s going to happen with the weather. We can’t control the curve balls that will come to us, but I can control how I react to that. Am I going to let it get to me or stress me out, or am I going to learn how to flow with it? I had to recognize that things are going to happen and to take time to breathe and pray, because if I don’t do that I will just jump off a building.
EBONY: What have been the hurdles of being a Black woman boss?
LP: I feel like being in my business, being an African-American Women is a plus. It doesn’t hurt or hinder me. There are not a lot of African American-owned companies out there. There are more than there were when I got started, but still not a lot compared to our Caucasian counterparts. So that works as a positive as well. The only time it’s a negative is when you have to get people to recognize that, “Yes I’m an African American woman, yes my core customer is African American women, but that doesn’t mean that you can’t use it too and benefit from it.” But as far as handling the stress of it, I consider myself and take care of my health. I make sure I work out. Because I know that when I work out, I release stress. Although I don’t like being away from home, I try to use that travel time to just be quiet and order a movie. It’s amazing how nice it is to just be silent sometimes. If I know my kids are safe and everybody’s okay, I can set aside a few hours and take a break.
EBONY: How did you balance the transition of appealing to various women of color?
LP: It’s something you do through your marketing. Our language is, I think, more conversational. There may be some little things that African American women will pick up on more so than Asian women. But in general, I feel like our language is very open and conversational; we don’t talk down to you or over you.
EBONY: Did you ever feel pressure to appeal to a more "mainstream" audience?
LP: I don’t really think of it as appealing to a "mainstream" audience to be honest, because with the way our world is changing, people are going to identify less and less with the color of their skin. It’s just something that’s going to end up happening in the next 20 to 30 years.
EBONY: I think the major beauty brands that are trying to reach us have to realize there is a new generation that is not as focused on color or race.
LP: I saw Talib Kweli on Anthony Bourdain's No Reservations, and Anthony Bourdain was touring Brooklyn for all these different places to eat. Talib was saying when he was growing up, young African-American males had one uniform: it was Tommy Hilfiger, North Face, Ralph Lauren, etc. That was it. Everybody wore the same jeans, same shirt, same jacket and the same shoes. Then he said, "Now when you walk though my neighborhood, you have people who still wear the "uniform", but you also have kids in bright colored t-shirts, hair in mohawks, and they’re on a skateboards." Everybody is free to express themselves and to embrace the different cultures around them.
EBONY: What advice do you have for young entrepreneurs?
LP: The advice that I usually give is to know what it is about your business that makes you unique and really stick to it. I remember going through a period in my business where I asked myself, “Is my story really relevant?” I learned the hard way how important the DNA of your brand is, but you have to translate it into the day and time that you’re in. Maybe