“It’s Okay To Fail Because When You Fail You Get Closer To Success," Says Beauty Entrepreneur Lisa Aidoo
By Morgana Van Peebles
Tell me a little about yourself.
I currently live in Los Angeles. I moved here a little over a year ago and it’s been such a whirlwind of trying to get settled. It’s been forcing me to explore new parts of myself that I didn’t know were there. When you take yourself out of an environment you’re so comfortable in, and go to a new place, new people, new culture — you discover so much about yourself, and that’s the stage I’m in now. I’m someone who has been in the fashion and beauty industry and who has completely moved from that to real estate and creating my own business under that umbrella. But it’s not a complete switch, it’s more of a merger. My background and experience is who I am and contributes to the Lisa Aidoo I am in this moment. From all of my experiences, I take it and apply it to what I’m doing in real estate today.
You’re the founder of Laidoo Beauty, a lash line focused on enhancing women’s natural beauty, and that donates 10% of each sale to the Odoben Hospital in Ghana. When did you decide to start the company, and how did your partnership with the hospital form?
It started when I went to Ghana. Being Miss Ghana USA 2013, you have to have a nonprofit charity cause that you care about, and some type of give back purpose event that is orchestrated by you, and you pick the organization, or hospital, or whatever you like. I chose to work with a hospital specifically for children with spinal cord injuries. During that trip, I visited my dad’s village, and from there I was able to see where my father comes from and a whole side of my family that I had never met before. Right next to the house he had built himself was a hospital. We took a tour of the hospital, and I use the word hospital very lightly, it’s more of a health clinic or center because it doesn’t have the supplies or resources to be called a hospital. On our tour, we got to see all the progress that has been made and all the progress that is yet to come. I was able to see firsthand the conditions that some of the patients were living in. There was no running water, or stationary items, and a lot of the resources were donated from abroad. It was just such an experience to see how much was lacking, and how much we take for granted in America —basic things that we don’t think about that other people would kill for.
After you see something like that, you’re not the same. I came back to America and I wondered how I could continue to give back without it always having to come from my pocket. How could I generate a machine with income, that I could always take a portion of and give to the health clinic? That’s how Laidoo Beauty was started.
I thought about things that I liked, and I loved lashes. I still do, but back when I started Laidoo Beauty I was wearing them every single day—you could not catch me without a pair of lashes on. I’m not as much of a cult follower now, but if I put them on, it’s a great day. I picked my favorite beauty item, did a lot of research, talked to a lot of vendors, and created a brand and a story around Laidoo Beauty in that beauty is something that each woman contains, and products are just to bring out and enhance what is already there. Instead of completely remaking your face, which at the time was the trend, I wanted to emphasize that beauty is supposed to enhance what’s there, not create what’s not there. The lashes are all meant to be enhancements of your natural lash line, and how your hair naturally grows. Not everyone is the same, so we made different patterns that really gravitate to most women. Each pattern is named after a natural resource in Ghana to tie back into my roots and the trip that created the product. Ten percent goes to the health clinic in Ghana, and I say that, but I usually end up giving way more at the end of the year, I just guarantee 10% from each sale. It has created a way for me to give every single year without it always having to come from my pocket.
How has social media affected your career as a creator and entrepreneur?
Social media has been a bridge. I’m able to connect with people in Ghana, as well as London, as well as in my backyard. It’s just such a platform to be able to talk and connect about things that a lot of people are going through but are not necessarily having conversations about. It’s a way to promote whatever visuals I have ready, or ideas. Social media is an enhancer. Now, it can be a disservice if it is misused. If you’re spending too much time on it, if you value yourself off of your social media, it can be toxic so you really have to use it for what it’s meant for and how it will help you.
Where do you see yourself and your business in the next five years?
In the next five years, I see myself as an established real estate agent, and with that I will be able to really push Laidoo Beauty on a more grand scale. With a secondary income, opportunities to get more investors would be greater. I would also be in a position to turn down business if it wasn’t something that I chose to do. I would also have more energy to put back into Laidoo Beauty because right now, it’s mainly going into building my real estate. I see Laidoo Beauty being a real force in terms of natural beauty. I see it growing into skin care, growing into a brand that women feel empowered by, and use to help tell their stories, and of course that of its roots in Ghana and the story as of the Odoben clinic.
You do so much from real estate, beauty, the Odoben Health Clinic, being an influencer and all around role model, to even winning Ms. Ghana USA in 2013. How do you manage to balance it all? Do you find it difficult to keep up with your skills individually, or do your interests often intertwine?
Some of my interests intertwine like when it comes to fashion and beauty, and Miss Ghana USA, those do. But it’s not all the time, every day is so different. Once you know what your goals are you start to focus on what’s going to get you there faster. For beauty and fashion, those are things that I will always have. Opportunities arise from that just because of the way I dress, the way I carry myself and present myself in terms of my makeup and clothes is always going to be a conversation starter. The opportunities in that realm come naturally but with real estate it is more strategic — a lot of networking and contracting, knowing what's going on with the economy and values and how construction will change the environment. I spend a lot of time reading and often trying to meet with people and things of that nature. Everything’s different. What are my goals this week? What are my goals this month? What are my goals this year? When you’re constantly in the know of that, it helps you organize what's really important to you.
The beauty and fashion industry in America is one of the most prevalent in terms of marketing, ads, and constantly appearing in our everyday lives... what is one piece of advice you would give to young girls of color wanting to pursue a career in an industry that was not necessarily built for us?
Show up. And show up with confidence. Don’t be afraid. I work in an industry where a lot of people think I’m the buyer or the client and not the real estate agent because the typical agent is a white man with glasses on, and that’s not me. I’m just completely who I am and people actually really like that. I bring something different to the table. I have a different way of connecting with people. I have a different perspective and way of communicating information that the next person wouldn’t. You’re different, but you’re different for a reason. Nothing changes without change so show up and don’t be afraid. Looking different is the advantage, but you also need to deliver. If you’re not delivering by lack of knowledge, by inexperience, or unwillingness, it will only diservice you and that’s when people like to tie in stereotypes. But if you know your shit and are willing to do the dirty work, and you’re hungry and look different, it is only going to benefit you.
With more work and social interactions taking place online, how do you find a balance between your screen time and being able to unplug?
I think when you’re in tune with yourself you know when you need to stop. I’m able to just kind of turn off and put my computer away when I know I need to, especially if I’m spending so much time on one particular thing and it’s not going anywhere. Sometimes I just need to put my computer down and go for a walk, meditate, read a book, and you know just not be on a screen. Even taking time to journal is so healing. I try to do it as much as I can, but sometimes I’m too exhausted. Squeezing these things in, not even in a scheduled way, just when you can, really helps make a difference.
What do you feel most accomplished for in your life right now?
I am really proud of myself for how far I’ve come in the short period I’ve been in LA. Yesterday, I just closed my first deal. This deal is something I’ve been working really hard on since January, with a high profile client who was looking for something very private and particular. I have been running inside and out of LA for maybe six months out of the nine this year, and I just was able to hand over the keys to his family and close that deal. That deal is a record deal that I and everybody in my firm can confirm they’ve never met anybody who's made a big value deal for their first closing at 5.8 million. The property was off the market before it was even seen. The last time it was sold was in the 90’s and that’s the thing no one will ever know! I signed a contract so I can’t say anything, or promote it, but for me to be able to do such a high profile deal in my first year, and again first deal, in an area I’m not familiar with — to make that happen I am so extremely proud of myself, my team, everybody that had a hand in it, my husband. It’s a blessing, and I know that if I can do this in a short amount of time, just knowing what else is possible for me.
Is there anything you would like to share with our readers that I haven’t asked you?
It’s okay to fail because when you fail you get closer to success. You learn how to do things better. And if you fail, you fail forward. If you feel you made a mistake, and it’s public, and you feel small, you’re thinking about it wrong. You’re on your way to being your best self, and everyone is experiencing what you’re going through in some way or fashion. So if your failing, you’re in the process of succeeding.
Ok, so this next part is just some fireball questions. Answer the first things that come to mind — describe your style in two words?
Timeless and lady-like.
Something you can’t leave home without?
What’s the best part of your job?
Favorite makeup item?
Um… I don’t have a celebrity crush, myself!
Closet must have?
A good pair of heels.
Current favorite artist?
I would have to go with a producer, Nana Kwabena. He’s really having a moment right now. He’s worked so hard for this and the music is awesome so I’m just really happy for him.
Who’s someone that inspires you?