Were all growing older every single day. Its just a fact of life. But luckily, we have Vanessa Lee! In this interviewas well as through her work as a world-renowned medical aesthetic providerVanessa teaches us how to age with grace and intention.
The owner of beauty concept bar THE THINGS WE DO, Vanessa talks to us about how her listening skills set her apart as a founder and help her understand her clients needs. We also learn how representation is essential to a strong community, how to unwind outside a screen, and how to embrace what feels authentic to you through natural beauty.
Do you find beauty empowering? If so, how?
Absolutely. When I was in college and knew I had a big test coming up, I would wake up earlier, give myself a thorough body scrub in the shower, do my hair and makeup and step in that classroom with the mindframe of "I HAVE ARRIVED". It always made me perform at my best. I felt beautiful because I took the time to take care of myself. For some people it's working out and drinking a green smoothie. I absolutely think that beauty can empower you, it just depends on how well you can define what it is that makes you feel beautiful and your ability to utilize it.
Maya Angelou said, As you grow older, you will discover that you have two hands, one for helping yourself, the other for helping others. How do you feel your platform has impacted your own identity? How has it impacted a larger community?
We love Maya Angelou! Yes, it is known that most practitioners in my industry are white and being a woman of color (and our staff is 90% POC) in this field has brought so much to my attention unintentionally. Firstly, every week we have clients coming in saying that they feel so comfortable because the providers look like them because representation matters. We had a young Black gentleman come in for facials and said that he felt really relieved to have found us because on our website, our client Dj Dahi, who is a Black man, is featured and that seeing someone like him made him feel like this place was made for him. All of this has catapulted me to talk about the lack of representation of POC in my industry and to not just talk about it but be a part of the change by working with mentees and working to push the larger pharmaceutical companies towards inclusivity in hiring and in education.
Scenario: Its been a long week, and youre finally coming home to rest. Whats your go-to way to care for your mental health? Do you have any mini resets you take during the stressful times themselves?
I have a hobby that I think more people should take up that I just love to indulge in to unwind and take my mind off of things. I metal detect. I go on walks on trails and take my CTX 3030 to the beach and just have at it, and I can do this for hours. I have found some interesting things in the past but the enjoyment comes more from the mindlessness of scanning (and getting in my steps!) and being rewarded by these little treasures I find. I find it so important to enjoy something that doesn't involve work or a screen.
What advice do you have for other women aspiring towards entrepreneurship, whether theyre entering the beauty space or another industry?
Surround yourself with people who love to see you succeed. Its hard enough to transition towards entrepreneurship there are endless struggles (all of them worth it!), but to do this in the company of people who don't want to see you shine is a trap. Believe in yourself and be in the company of people who contribute to your wellbeing and happiness. Everything else is distraction and poor energy that will drain you.
At what point in your career as a medical aesthetic provider, did you realize that you had a unique talent? How did you use this insight to found your own company?
I recognized that I was on to something special when my patient list started growing exponentially by just word of mouth. Patients started to express to me that they had never had a practitioner treat them the way I did, which was puzzling to me because I didn't quite understand. After some deeper digging with patients, I learned that they felt that their previous practitioners did not truly listen to them, tried selling them on procedures instead of recommending what was truly best for them, and some of them had felt taken advantage of. I am a good, solid injector, but I am an excellent listener and like to think that I have mastered the skill of making people feel safe in my chair. A patient can tell when their provider is a true advocate for them, which builds trust, and once that trust is built, patients start telling everyone how exciting it is to find a practitioner that understands them. Word spreads very quickly.
I created The Things We Do with the intention for our entire team to be advocates for our patient's and their natural beauty and it has taken off in a way I never expected it to. Our clinics aren't high intensity, intimidating mill house-style spaces. Instead, they are known for their calming and nurturing feel but with the edge of some of the best, most reputable injectors in the industry led by the newest techniques.
To you, what does natural beauty mean?
When we say natural, we mean what feels authentic to you. Instead of coming in with the goal to look like their favorite celebrity or new filter from social, we focus on helping you look more rested, happier, and healthier through facial shaping, improving skin health, and profile balancing.
Part of your philosophy involves prioritizing inner beauty. When were so often faced with an emphasis on how we look, how can we reframe what matters most?
After giving a patient their beauty plan addressing their concerns, patients will often ask, "What do you think, do I really need this?" and my answer is always the same. I tell my patients that truthfully, none of us need any of this. As long as you are enjoying yourself and focusing on things that bring you joy, then for the most part, we are set! But, just like we also don't absolutely need certain bags or a matcha latte every morning, these skin and beauty solutions exist for you as an option. If our providers do detect an unhealthy relationship with a patient and procedures, we kindly refer them to our suggested licensed therapists who can be the real help in a situation that requires something deeper.
To those of us interested in anti-aging treatments, what advice would you give to help us get natural-looking results?
We love to use the term age support instead of anti-aging. For the most natural looking age support results I suggest using actives appropriate for your skin type at home (i.e. azelaic acid for redness, glycolic acid for superficial breakouts and congestion, Vitamin C for brightening, lactic acid to for gentle brightening and exfoliation) always paired with the use of sunscreen in the daytime. As far as treatments, I like to address the skin by type and concern as well. For fading brown spots and redness, I like gentle chemical peels. For dramatic skin smoothing and fine line reduction, microneedling is my favorite treatment, and for thickening skin that is thinning, PRFM (using natural growth factors from your own blood to stimulate your skin) is my favorite treatment! There are so many choices these days that help induce skin health but leading with your main skin concern is the way to go.
What tips do you have for women looking to share their wisdom with a larger audience?
My advice is to turn on the camera tonight and get going! Start with recording yourself talking about three different topics and chances are that you'll be gabbing for about 20-30 minutes. From here, you can cut and splice your videos for content on many different platforms and you can immediately get started with your TikTok, IG, and YouTube shorts. I was speaking to someone recently and she knew the reason why she wasn't growing was because of her lack of content and she kept saying to me, "I really need to get started, I just need to get started". I ended up telling her to stop saying what she needed to do and just do it! If you are consistent with your output of content that is quality because you have experience with it, your niche will pick you up and the needle starts to move. Just get started is my advice. It doesn't need to be perfect, it needs to be out there.
Dont forget that for every product you purchase in March, including wonderful anti-aging skincare products, a portion of the proceeds will be donated to Movemeant, a non-profit that celebrates physical movement to unlock values like self-confidence, resilience, commitment, balance and community. Head to our Female-Founded shop to support women while you look and feel amazing.
While a self-described social butterfly, I find empowerment in my independence. Taking myself on a spur of the moment solo vacation, dinner dates to new restaurants or parts of the city where my company is solely the characters in the book I bring, visiting the local bar and getting to know the bartenders over a glass of wine… or 3. I find that intimate moments with myself leave me feeling brave, confident, and empowered to take on the world without depending on anything else as a buffer. It also gives me time to reflect, plan, journal and explore new places at my own pace.