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Lelamarie Kelly: “Never settle for less”

Journal — This helps to get both positive and negative thoughts out on paper. Its like venting. Combat negative stress — On the flip side of every bad thing is its omnipresent silver lining. Finding that everyday keeps the negativity at bay. Never settle for less — Choose to thrive over survive in all things. It’s ok to make the more difficult choice […]

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Journal — This helps to get both positive and negative thoughts out on paper. Its like venting.

Combat negative stress — On the flip side of every bad thing is its omnipresent silver lining. Finding that everyday keeps the negativity at bay.

Never settle for less — Choose to thrive over survive in all things. It’s ok to make the more difficult choice in the present so that you can truly thrive and grow in the future.

Move your body — Exercise is like an active meditation that helps to quick your mind.

Get enough sleep — Sleep is an underappreciated strategic advantage, take it when you can.


I had the pleasure of interviewing Lelamarie Kelly.

Lelamarie is the CEO and co-founder of Volto Urbano, a trained corporate attorney who formerly practiced at a top international law firm, and a single (formerly teen) mother to three children (two daughters ages 19 and 17and a special needs son who is 7). She left the big-law rat race to get closer to the skincare industry. After working at goop and on a small professional brand for several years, she took the plunge with her business partner to found Volto Urbano in furtherance of her personal mission: all women should feel authentic and comfortable in their own skin.


Thank you so much for doing this with us! Our readers would love to “get to know you” better. Can you share your “backstory” with us?

I was born and raised in the Philippines and moved to Honolulu when I was around 14 years old. I had my first child at 16 and second one at 18. I could have chosen to be comfortable with my friends and family with a basic 9 to 5 job in the hospitality sector, but that was never going to be enough for me. Instead, I applied to mainland universities and received a scholarship at the University of Southern California. I didn’t just study and raise two daughters there; I graduated with high honors and an acceptance in hand to attend the UCLA School of Law.

Can you share the most interesting story that happened to you since you started your career? What were the main lessons or takeaways from that story?

I started my career at a big international law firm. I was raised to value the security of a profession over following my instincts to create something entrepreneurial. What I learned is that despite my best efforts to really feel engaged in international corporate law, I cannot fully commit my heart and soul to a profession of business to which I do not feel a deep connection in terms of mission and performance.

As a direct result, the values and policies we employ at Volto Urbano encourage everyone to follow their hearts in business because someone will always give it their utmost effort rather than good enough when their hearts and minds are engaged.

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

I had the privilege of getting offers from both smaller law firms and behemoth, more prestigious firms. I decided to go with the latter and accepted an offer from a top firm’s San Francisco office . I wasn’t feeling satisfied with the nature of the work, the horrible hours or my home life, so I asked a high grossing female colleague how she balanced her family life with her career. When she answered, “you’ll never be the best mother or the best lawyer,” I realized my mistake in joining the firm. I knew deep in the pit of my stomach that I’d rather invest that time in my children and something I felt truly passionate about rather than the big law rat race.

None of us are able to achieve success without some help along the way. Is there a particular person who you are grateful towards who helped get you to where you are? Can you share a story about that?

My current business partner, Mark Tennenbaum. I met Mark through a blind date that had strong intellectual and mental connections without any romantic tingling — we became very good friends and over the years he encouraged me to make the leap from big law to explore entrepreneurship.

Ok perfect. Now let’s jump to our main focus. When it comes to health and wellness, how is the work you are doing helping to make a bigger impact in the world?

I am introducing a novel approach to looking at skin wellness — our environment and lifestyles are just as important as our skin type when choosing the most appropriate skin care regimen.

I want to further expound on that point by going so far as to say that we should be modifying our skin regimens daily based on the weather outside and what activities we plan for the day.

Can you share your top five “lifestyle tweaks” that you believe will help support people’s journey towards better wellbeing? Please give an example or story for each.

  1. Journal — This helps to get both positive and negative thoughts out on paper. Its like venting.
  2. Combat negative stress — On the flip side of every bad thing is its omnipresent silver lining. Finding that everyday keeps the negativity at bay.
  3. Never settle for less — Choose to thrive over survive in all things. It’s ok to make the more difficult choice in the present so that you can truly thrive and grow in the future.
  4. Move your body — Exercise is like an active meditation that helps to quick your mind.
  5. Get enough sleep — Sleep is an underappreciated strategic advantage, take it when you can.

If you could start a movement that would bring the most amount of wellness to the most amount of people, what would that be?

Change the way you look at skincare because your natural skin, when well cared for, is always one way we can lead with our most authentic selves.

What are your “5 Things I Wish Someone Told Me Before I Started” and why?

  1. Persistence and grit. When one thing doesn’t work out, don’t let it sink your boat.
  2. Our mistakes are our most important teachers and almost always the prelude to success. There were critical moments in my life where I had to choose between the status quo or the unsafe scary choice.
  3. When the status quo is less than what you see for your life, shake everything up to create and seize the opportunities to take your life to another level.
  4. Choose to thrive over survive in all things.
  5. Your family and friends will appreciate the value of your time much more than any employer.

Sustainability, veganism, mental health and environmental changes are big topics at the moment. Which one of these causes is dearest to you, and why?

Environmental change is very important to me because it goes to the heart of why I created my skin care line. Environment is just as important as skin type when determining an individual’s skin care needs.

What is the best way our readers can follow you on social media?

Thank you for these fantastic insights!

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