Meet Tracey Brown, Testament Beauty’s Newest Team Member and 30-Year Beauty Veteran
There are beauty experts…and then there is Tracey Brown.
Since launching Testament Beauty, I have met many wonderful people, from our incredible customers to our brilliant retail partners and many fellow founders. Few have touched me in the way Tracey Brown has. Tracey is one of the most dynamic, energetic, driven, dazzling and wise people I’ve ever met. She’s also a bonafide beauty industry veteran with over 30 years of experience, from being in the room where Sephora.com launched, to working with countless founders, established brands and up-and-coming ones, too!
For that reason and so much more of which you’ll read below, Tracey is Testament Beauty’s new Account Manager, with a focus on the Southeast U.S.
I caught up with Tracey to talk about everything from the first beauty product she ever used, to the sage words of wisdom imparted to her by matriarchs. Read on to learn more about Tracey and check out her site, Blinging Beauty, and follow her on Instagram.
Sophia Chabbott: Welcome to Testament Beauty! We’re so excited to have you on the team! First things first: When did you first know that you were a beauty lover?
Tracey Brown: I was very young, around 8, in the mid '60s. My mom had these creamy pastel Avon stacking eyeshadows that I would play with. I had baby blue lips, chiffon yellow eyelids, lavender cheeks — I suppose I was ahead of my time! In junior high school I started buying Glamour and Vogue magazines and I was mesmerized by the fashion and the makeup. It was then that I started tearing the covers off and collecting them for my own inspiration.
S.C.: You were giving Euphoria vibes, pre HBO! What was the first beauty product you ever purchased?
T.B.: My first beauty purchase was a Bonnie Bell Lip Smacker Roll-On lipgloss. I was so excited, but I had to hide it from my mom; I was banned from wearing makeup. Little did she know...
S.C.: What’s your approach to beauty and skincare?
T.B.: My approach to beauty and skin care has evolved over the years. I survived purple disco blush. I was a Clinique pink lipstick and blush girl during my early 20s. Then Sade hit and I was all about matte red lipstick — M.A.C Russian Red to be exact. And my makeup was super matte powder and a dark brow and I was working a ponytail. You could not tell me I was not Sade's twin! I have transitioned from full-on face of makeup to minimal makeup now that I'm in my sixties. I do believe that less is more.
As far as skin care, I used Noxzema and straight alcohol on my oily skin as a teen. Ugh. I was in a horrific car accident at 20 (ended my college trajectory) and once I could walk, my mom sent me to Italy to live for a time. (My mom started international travel at an early age, an anomaly for a young Black woman in her late teens) While in Europe I was fascinated with the pharmacies and various stores where I could buy cosmetics. I bought better skin care and started collecting makeup. I was able to get a student visa so I enrolled in an art school, but performed quite poorly. However, I learned so much about light and anatomy that I decided I wanted to be a makeup artist when I returned to the states.
Now, I read the labels when it comes to my skin care choices. I have taken some fabulous classes from Rebecca James Gadberry, a leader in aesthetics and cosmetic formulation. From her I learned what to look for and what to avoid in a skin care product. So, now, I want simple, efficacious products that keep my skin glowing!
My mom died from CLL (Chronic Lymphocytic Leukemia) in her sixties and I have been diagnosed with the same. So clean beauty is extremely important to me!
S.C.: You’ve had such an incredible career in the beauty industry — from being part of the launch of Sephora.com to planning at Nordstrom in Atlanta. Tell us a bit about the lessons you’ve learned along the way.
T.B.: Wow, I have learned so much from each from my journey in the beauty industry. I have to first give props to my mentor from Esthetics/Cosmetology school, Sheila Gay. She saw something in me that I didn't see in myself. So, immediately upon graduation I opened my own business and she partnered with me. I took advanced education classes. I partnered with Dermatologists and worked with burn survivors. I started using brands that featured glycolic acid, so I had personal training from Dr. Murad at that time. From there I became a trainer for L'Oréal Professional.
That experience opened the door for me at Sephora.com. I worked in Education as well as for the Beauty Advisor. I was introduced to every major product line at that time — at that time we had the founders train on their product lines. Dr. Perricone was all the rage then (2000), Ole Henricksen, Jared Blandino from Too Faced among many others. I always say that I wish there was a beauty packaging category on Jeopardy because I would run the category.
I also worked for prestigious brands like Chanel, Laura Geller and Smashbox as an international makeup artist and trainer. I moved to Atlanta in 2018 and wanted an easy job since I was headed to semi-retirement. So, I was hired by Nordstrom to manage their Ad Tech department. Weird name, but I had so many brands under my purview online and in-store , which all advanced skin care and tools, hair care and tools, wellness, niche makeup brands and tools and more. That included all doctor brands like Dr. Dennis Gross, Perricone MD, Dr. Sturm and others. Clean brands like Tata Harper, Tula, Natura Bisse, Omorovicza, Arcona, Augustinus Bader, Supergoop, Elemis, Caudalie, Kypris, Erno Laszlo and I can go on. Spa brands, K-Beauty, and tools like Bio Beauty, NuFace, Dermaflash and more.
I suppose my point in mentioning all the brands is that I have had an inside look at not just ingredients, but marketing, brand positioning and trends which is invaluable to me. I have learned that there is room for everyone in the beauty industry. I have also learned that clean beauty as a category is taking precedence in the industry. I learned that it's important to be a mentor. I had fabulous mentors over the years and I continue to pay it forward. I have learned to give, philanthropy is important to me. My main focus is young at-risk women of color. To that end, I partner with brands that have the same values and do workshops that include wonderful products for them.
S.C.: You’re also an influencer and an author! Describe how you approach your reviews and what products most interest you?
T.B.: Yes, I am! I have to say having my interview with Pat McGrath in the throes of Fashion Week was the most thrilling event of my life! I started a beauty blog, Blinging Beauty in 2008, when I was recovering from a few orthopedic surgeries (due to that car accident years ago). At first I was just a beauty blogger, then I kept drilling down and determined that I was a voice to Black women as not only a voracious consumer, but also a professional. I realized I was on to something when Bold PR reached out to me and I started working with them. At the time Vapour Beauty was just launching and I'm happy to say that I was instrumental in spreading the word about that beautiful clean brand. Next thing I know, I'm working with every PR firm and brand in NYC. It was exciting. I had a huge team of interns. I was able to attend New York Fashion Week as a reporter as opposed to a makeup artist as I had in the past.
Regarding my reviews, I look at the claim of the product and do they stand up to those claims. I look at what I deem as hero ingredients. I also use products for an extended period of time so as to have an honest opinion of the results. I really hate that so many influencers don't even use products or use them one time and give them a rave review. I won't do it. My integrity is more important to me.
I have a rating system of one to five, but now if a product is below a four, I won't even waste my time writing about it. Why? Oh, and regarding the name of my blog, this is how it came about. I was doing makeup for a bride and her ridiculously large bridal party. As I was applying my go-to bridal blush, Nars Orgasm, one of the bridesmaids asked, "What is that bling you just put on her cheeks?" And I thought to myself, one day I'm going to use "bling" for something I do professionally. And I did.
S.C.: What are 3 beauty must-haves that you simply cannot live without?
T.B.: Skin care: exfoliant, moisturizer with SPF, eye cream. Makeup: Concealer, blush, cream luminizer. I know, I cheated.
S.C.: We’re so excited that you’ll be introducing Testament Beauty to so many new customers around the country! What is it about Testament that you’re looking forward to sharing?
T.B.: I'm so very excited! I love the back story. I'm a sucker for natural fragrance in products, You know that I read the label. I love the ingredients that are in Testament products. From the powdered coffee seeds to the Blue Tansy. I love the thought in the products. I love, love, love the packaging. The sensorial experience of opening the jar and taking that first whiff of the products, and the feel of the mask and 3-in-1 also.
I want to share to consumers and buyers that they don't have to ditch their current products, they can enhance their skin care regimen and results with Testament Beauty.
S.C.: Summer is here! What’s your summer skincare regimen and how do you shake things up for then the mercury rises?
T.B.: I'm in Atlanta and it's ridiculously hot and humid here. So I'm opting for a lighter weight moisturizer, for daytime. If I plan on leaving the house, a tinted moisturizer for sure. Eye cream and tinted lip balm. Definitely a soothing sleeping mask, Testament Beauty Moroccan Chamomile Sleeping Mask to be exact!
S.C.: What’s your motto/words you live by?
T.B.: Don't regret what you do out of love. Be in the moment. Love what you do.
Invest in good shoes and classic pieces — my fashionista aunt.
Moisturize — Mom's advice.
Laugh and eat your greens —Grandma.
Make your bed and you have already accomplished something for the day — my shrink.
A day without blush is a day without sunshine.