When Cincinnatian Sylvia Brownlee was laid off from her corporate job in the cosmetic industry in 2015, she didn’t know what her next move was.
As an esthetician and skincare expert with decades of experience, she knew she was passionate about helping clients feel comfortable in their skin, but she wasn’t sure what would come next in her career.
“Getting laid off actually kind of forced me into entrepreneurship,” she tells CityBeat. “I had to ask hard questions. What do I love the most? Where do I want to focus? I realized I wanted to focus on acne and hyperpigmentation.”
Almost immediately, Brownlee founded her Silverton-based company, Skin by Brownlee & Co., a skincare clinic that specializes in the prevention and treatment of acne and hyperpigmentation.
Now, seven years later, some of her most popular products are offered through Target via target.com.
Starting Jan. 23, target.com began stocking four of Brownlee’s products: the Cryotherapy Ball Facial Roller, the Blemish Chaser, the HydraBalance Moisturizer and the Balancing Face Cleanser.
When the major retail chain reached out to Brownlee on Instagram last March about selling some of her products, she thought the message was spam and ignored it. But the message included an email, so she decided to give it a shot and contact them anyway.
Now, people across the country can order her products online. All of Brownlee’s products that Target stocks sell for under $26, and Brownlee says the most popular product is the Cryotherapy Ball. The cold facial roller can help stimulate nerves to exercise facial tissue, tighten skin and reduce pore size and puffiness.
“It helps to reduce skin inflammation, and my clients rave about it,” she says. “It’s great for using under the eyes or over the eyelids.”
She also sells additional products on her website, including serums, scrubs and masks. Brownlee works with a chemist to create each product herself, using natural ingredients that are “good for the skin and body,” she says.
Friends and family gathered recently at a party in Over-the-Rhine to celebrate the Target launch, but they say Brownlee’s success isn’t a surprise to anyone.
Her sister, Courtnee Barnes, says Brownlee works hard and cares deeply about each client she works with.
“It was always her dream to own a skincare line,” Barnes says. “This is a long time coming. She’s so knowledgeable about skincare, and she really gives each client individualized care and boosts their confidence.”
In addition to the target.com line, Brownlee offers services to her clients at her business location at 7337 Montgomery Road.
Whether in person or online, Brownlee begins by assessing the many different aspects of a client’s lifestyle and diet, making recommendations to get them clear from the inside-out as quickly as possible, according to her website. Services include detox facials for acne, a brightening treatment facial, a rejuvenation facial and a custom-glow facial.
She also offers an “Away With Acne” program, which takes a personalized, guided approach toward helping clients achieve clearer, more radiant-looking skin.
“Clearing acne is about a lifestyle change,” Brownlee says. “I take a holistic approach. It’s about using the right skincare routine, but also it’s about being consistent.”
Acne is the most common skin condition in the United States, affecting up to 50 million Americans annually, according to the American Academy of Dermatology. Approximately 85% of people between the ages of 12 and 24 experience at least minor acne.
Brownlee’s basic advice for starting a new skincare routine? “Everyone should have four things in their skincare regimen: a good cleanser, a moisturizer, sunscreen and a toner. If you start there, you can always add to that.”
As a Black female entrepreneur, Brownlee has spent the past seven years building her business by herself. She says that at times, she doubted that she could develop a thriving business. But with support from her friends and family, she now has a waitlist for clients and is reaching thousands with her Target line.
“My advice to women who are branching into entrepreneurship is to just stay focused,” she says. “Nothing happens overnight. I’ve worked every day to keep getting better and to keep growing the brand. You have to have a different mindset to stay motivated. You have to have an amazing work ethic. Even when you don’t feel like doing something, you still have to do it. Because in the end, it’s your name on your brand.”
Skin by Brownlee & Co. is located at 7337 Montgomery Road. Learn more and shop at target.com or skinbybrownleeandco.com.