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Diamond Hawkins and Lidia Debesay of Pothos Beauty: “The first step is starting”

The first step is starting. We both have a background in strategy, so we sat down and envisioned every possible way we could build this. We hopped on a call, made tea and started dreaming. We used the design thinking framework to work through our ideas. At Pothos Beauty, from the start no idea is […]

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The first step is starting. We both have a background in strategy, so we sat down and envisioned every possible way we could build this. We hopped on a call, made tea and started dreaming. We used the design thinking framework to work through our ideas. At Pothos Beauty, from the start no idea is too crazy of an idea for us. As a young person with an idea, you’ve got to be a little bold to make it a reality — it was and still is imperative to remember our WHY! That motivates us to keep going building, we know we have what it takes to make a positive impact on the world we live in.


As part of my series about young people who are making an important social impact”, I had the pleasure of interviewing Pothos Beauty Founders: Diamond Hawkins (Celeb Makeup Artist, Business Strategist and Social Impact Fellow) and Lidia Debesay (Mental Health Advocate, Sales Strategist, & Social Impact consultant).

They saw first hand the lack of representation and inclusiveness within the beauty and wellness industry. As black women, having 5 or 6 stores just to gather all of our beauty/wellness or house items was a norm.

They hated the feeling of not being able to walk into a store with their diverse friends and having the ability to ALL leave with what they needed without a hunt. Not to mention, major retailers only carried major brands which didn’t leave much shelf life for smaller brands.

As a result, they created their social venture Pothos Beauty — -the FIRST FULLY Inclusive beauty marketplace where diverse brands and customers can connect and vibe together because INCLUSIVITY IS BEAUTY.

As a mission-focused marketplace, they aim to change the narrative around how consumers understand beauty and wellness, while creating infrastructures that actually give back to our communities, societies, and the world. A portion of all proceeds will be given back to support causes that matter! Pothos Beauty will roll up sleeves and rebuild the infrastructure of our societies in a positive manner.


Thank you so much for doing this with us! Before we dig in, our readers would like to get to know you a bit. Can you tell us a bit how you grew up?

Lidia: I was born & raised in Asmara, Eritrea. For those of you who don’t know, it’s a small yet beautiful country in East Africa. My father is a free spirited, ambitious, and such a great man who taught me to dream big and go after it fearlessly. He has always told me I was destined for greatness and that’s where my true power comes from. His life story is something that defined me in so many ways: integrity, loyalty, pursuit of purpose, and fighting what you believe in. He dropped out of highschool to fight for his country during the Eritrea- Ethiopia war, yet he has traveled the world and taught himself so many languages. My parents believed in education so they brought my brothers & I to America in 2007. My education background is in International business and Philosophy and worked in different spaces as a Sales strategist, served the youth as a mentor especially in the mental health advocacy, and social impact consulting in tech. I am super grateful to have lived so many lives, gained life experiences at 27 and I’m excited to see what life has in store for me.

Diamond: I grew up in Bridgeport, Connecticut to two young teenage parents. I grew up to two parents who came from very different backgrounds. My mother was a first-gen american from Greenwich CT, while my father was a man from North Carolina. Both of them were free spirits and allowed us to see ourselves and the power we carried that would allow us to change the world. They always encouraged me to try new things and figure out what brings me joy, and not adhere to the status quo of society. I tried many sports, arts and studies within the means of what we had. I traveled and learned about the world at hand when able. My educational background is in Political Science and Philosophy of Political Regimes. I have an MBA with a strategy focus and have worked in a variety of different spaces such as Makeup, Product Management, Social Impact (2x Nobel Peace Prize Summit), Marketing and more! I had a very great childhood, and I am thankful my parents were rebellious and loving in all forms which afforded me the opportunity to live freely! I would not be who I am today without them. I am the superhero that I am today because of them and the life they provided to me! Excited for the future!

You are currently leading an organization that aims to make a social impact. Can you tell us a bit about what you and your organization are trying to change in our world today?

We saw first hand lack of inclusivity in beauty, tech, and any organizations we have come across. We both believe that the human race comes first and our work is to create a space where everyone of all walks of life can come together and feel celebrated. We’re not only called to be market-disruptors in the beauty space, but to create a society where everyone is welcome and being their highest selves.

Can you tell us the backstory about what inspired you to originally feel passionate about this cause?

It was something we wanted to see for ourselves. We will be able to have a place where we would be celebrated. Diamond came by the ways of being a celeb makeup artist, while Lidia came by the ways of being a mental health advocate. Being lovers of social impact is something that bonded us. This is what inspired us to build a space that would impact the world at large. During the start of quarantine, Diamond had an interview with ELLE about her hair during lockdown, it was that moment after the feature where we realized the DEEP lack of inclusivity in the beauty industry! We were unable to gain access to the products that black women needed for their self care needs due to lockdown. Additionally, we noticed that the industry was landlocked by owners that were not black. This is what confirmed we needed to do something to shift the industry to reflect all people!

Many of us have ideas, dreams, and passions, but never manifest it. They don’t get up and just do it. But you did. Was there an “Aha Moment” that made you decide that you were actually going to step up and do it? What was that final trigger?

Honestly, we both have gotten super sick & tired of just being in spaces where we’re automatically canceled because of our race, age, and gender. Being the problem solvers that we are, we started strategizing how we can build a life where we can monetize our skills, gain financial freedom to be mothers someday, and impact the masses to heal and pursue their highest potential.

Many young people don’t know the steps to take to start a new organization. But you did. What are some of the things or steps you took to get your project started?

The first step is starting. We both have a background in strategy, so we sat down and envisioned every possible way we could build this. We hopped on a call, made tea and started dreaming. We used the design thinking framework to work through our ideas. At Pothos Beauty, from the start no idea is too crazy of an idea for us. As a young person with an idea, you’ve got to be a little bold to make it a reality — it was and still is imperative to remember our WHY! That motivates us to keep going building, we know we have what it takes to make a positive impact on the world we live in.

Can you share the most interesting story that happened to you since you began leading your company or organization?

Unrelated to building the company — we decided to drive from Austin Texas to Brooklyn NY to build Pothos Beauty. Until making the decision to move to new york we were only internet friends who met on Linkedin. We met in NYC, found an apartment and drove a truck from TX to NY in four days while chasing a hurricane during the pandemic. During that time we almost flipped over the truck at a gas station, and had to depend on the kindness of humans to help us.

Can you share a story about the funniest mistake you made when you were first starting? Can you tell us what lesson or take away you learned from that?

Initially we wanted to create an online beauty supply store and our goal was to make 1,000,000 dollars in 8 minutes. We figured if all the beauty supply stores are closed and we make an online one, the site would crash by the overwhelming amount of orders. That plan failed MISERABLY, but it gave us the opportunity to pivot and build the company you now see and most proud of!

None of us can be successful without some help along the way. Did you have mentors or cheerleaders who helped you to succeed? Can you tell us a story about their influence?

That’s a hard question to answer because we have so many people standing besides us. We’re so grateful to have mentors and people that help us in this life journey we’re on. Each week there is someone who has either heard us on a podcast, IG interview, twitter etc that has been generous to give a helping hand where they are able. We have spoken to influencers, publishers, beauty directors at major publications, editors in chief, founders, lawyers, models and the list goes on! This is a community focused business and the community is involved in building it. Truly a blessing! We are so excited to see PB take off and make the world a better place.

We want to give a special shout out to the podcast host who helped us share our story to the masses! You can find them here:

ELLE US:

https://www.elle.com/beauty/amp32213253/black-women-hair-coronavrius-covid-19/

FOUNDER GYM:

LOVE YOU, MEAN IT PODCAST:

THE PURPOSE PROJECT:

HIGH KEY ADULTING PODCAST

GOLD STANDARD PODCAST:

THE REAL REEL PODCAST:

Can you tell us a story about a particular individual who was impacted or helped by your cause?

We can’t think of one person. We have been grateful enough to receive calls, dms, or emails from people who are inspired by our stories. They often ask us if we’re hiring or how they can be a part of Pothos Beauty. That means the world to us! It’s a reminder that our work is valued and people are excited to see what we bring to the world!

Are there three things the community/society/politicians can do to help you address the root of the problem you are trying to solve?

YES!

  1. Support and provide funds for spaces of inclusivity!
  2. Help support our business financially so we can build infrastructures to create a more inclusive society!
  3. Share our story and build partnerships that will help the world in more positive ways! As we’re giving back a percentage of our proceeds to fund social issues our communities care about.

What are your “5 things I wish someone told me when I first started” and why. Please share a story or example for each.

If there were 5 things we wish someone told us before we started and why the would be:

  1. Rest — you are going to need it
  2. Make sure you set up a support system before starting. Many times as founders we forget that we need a support system to lean on. It makes all the difference on those hard days.
  3. Make sure your financial house is in order, have a plan of action financially before beginning if you can.
  4. Think about the strength of your network — be sure to connect with those people. You never know who will help you get to your next level
  5. TALK TO EVERYONE! The power of connecting with others will make all the difference of what you are building. The more people to talk to about our idea the better! More people know about it and it also keeps you accountable!

If you could tell other young people one thing about why they should consider making a positive impact on our environment or society, like you, what would you tell them?

Diamond: “You only have one place to live; why not make it a worthwhile and loving experience?”

Lidia: “Know that you were created for a purpose! Stay solid in your identity and what God has for you.”

Is there a person in the world, or in the US with whom you would like to have a private breakfast or lunch with, and why? He or she might just see this, especially if we tag them. 🙂

It would be an honor to have breakfast with Kamala Harrison. We’re living in a time where a multicultural woman is in the white house. Can we pause for a moment to process and celebrate how far we’ve come to see this moment!!!! She’s literally paving the way for every young person to dream boldly and achieve all their wildest dreams! It would be surreal to meet her!

How can our readers follow you online?

Check out our website at www.pothosbeauty.com. You can also follow us on all social media (Instagram, Twitter, Tik Tok) @pothosbeauty

Twitter:

Diamond Hawkins https://twitter.com/diamondhawkins_

Lidia Debesay https://twitter.com/lidiadgreatness

Company: https://twitter.com/pothosbeauty

Linkedin:

Company:https://www.linkedin.com/company/pothos-beauty/

Instagram:

Diamond Hawkins https://www.instagram.com/diamondhawkins_/

Lidia Debesay https://www.instagram.com/lidiadgreatness/

Company: https://www.instagram.com/pothosbeauty/

Company Website:

https://www.pothosbeauty.com/

This was very meaningful, thank you so much. We wish you only continued success on your great work!

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