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Meet Steenah Brennan of E Y E B E H O L D B E A U T Y in Greater Sacramento Area

Today we’d like to introduce you to Steenah Brennan.

Steenah, let’s start with your story. We’d love to hear how you got started and how the journey has been so far.
Over ten years ago, I founded and started E Y E B E H O L D B E A U T Y due to the lack of diversity in the professional makeup artistry world. During my childhood to adolescent years, I did print modeling for a well-known agency in New York. Unfortunately, I didn’t always get the same treatment or have my makeup done by makeup artists like the other models. Most of the artists had never done makeup on a person of color and others didn’t carry a vast shade palette that would be flattering on people with deeper or rich skin tones. Eventually, I met with a makeup artist who not only specialized in doing makeup for tan to deep tones, but who also took me under his wing and began to mentor me into becoming a professional makeup artist. Soon after, I started my own makeup artistry business to help women who are often marginalized and overlooked feel beautiful in their rich skin tones.

In 2006, I moved from Newark, N.J., to Florida for college and to be closer to the other half of my family. Halfway through my first year of school, I found my love for designing and creating unique structures and decided to major in architecture. I began to rebrand and expand my company into a more creative lane that would put me in a position to give back to women like me. Since then, I’ve gotten married, had a baby and moved across the country. My passion for making women feel beautiful and seen has been with me every step of the way.

As my makeup business continued to thrive, I was able to start setting capital aside to build and launch the extension of the E Y E B E H O L D B E A U T Y brand, SB by Steenah Brennan. The brand, which began in 2019, offers custom apparel, logo & graphic design, handcrafted quality jewelry, mystic offerings, and coming soon natural handmade skincare products. Unfortunately, COVID-19 also hit in 2019, crippling the makeup artistry side of the business. As a result, I stopped traveling and taking appointments out of safety for my clients as well as myself and my family.

I decided to turn this unexpected hardship into an opportunity to lean more into SB by Steenah Brennan. I dusted off my sewing machine and began making masks to donate to essential workers, unhoused people around the city and other folks in need. I put out a call on social media asking for monetary and material donations to aid in my efforts to supply my community with essential PPE and received an overwhelming response. People from around the country donated fabric and supplies so that I could continue making more masks for our country’s most vulnerable populations. As my funds began to dwindle, I started selling masks to those who could afford them so that 100% of those proceeds went back into buying more supplies for individuals in need and health care workers at no cost.

What started out as a makeup artistry business to help enhance the beauty of marginalized women has grown into so much more over the years. I always knew I wanted to be someone who gave back and uplifted communities like mine that are often underrepresented, underserved, and lacking access to much-needed wellness & health spaces. With that in mind, I completed two longtime goals of mine this year: becoming a certified 200 hour registered Yoga teacher (RYT) and founding an online yoga studio, Asè Mune Yoga.

We’re always bombarded by how great it is to pursue your passion, etc – but we’ve spoken with enough people to know that it’s not always easy. Overall, would you say things have been easy for you?
The road for me has had multiple uphill battles. From registering my business to being on the verge of losing everything I built. Through it all, I never gave up because I have drive and determination. I don’t just do this for myself, it’s my heart’s desire to help create opportunities that enrich people’s lives who are in need. I’m the first one in my family to have a business. Figuring out things on my own was the hardest part of this entire journey. It’s hard to know what you need to know when you are in uncharted territory. In my 2nd year of business, I ran into a financial hardship that almost whipped me out. After doing more research, reaching out to a trusted financial advisor, I got back on track and invested the money I had wisely moving forward. My mistake was buying materials and equipment too fast without having a good understanding on how to market my company, customer’s wants/needs, and the actual demand for the services I was offering. Much of what I invested my money in upfront could have waited, the lesson was well learned and made me better in the end.

So, as you know, we’re impressed with E Y E B E H O L D B E A U T Y – tell our readers more, for example what you’re most proud of and what sets you apart from others.
My business is a small but sustainably sourced and run operation. Most of my designs and creations would fall into the minimalist realm because I believe in letting the pieces speak for themselves. Forging inclusion and space through creativity and wellness across the E Y E B E H O L D B E A U T Y brands. My goal is to create custom pieces while remaining ethical in my sourcing of products used to bring each customer’s individuality/expression of themselves to life. My company offers superior handcrafted quality products that speak to the individual in you. I specialize in bringing people’s vision to life. Be it through makeup, photography, graphic designs, or handcrafted jewelry that can be customized to suit your need or purpose. It is one of my top priorities to provide excellent customer service while continuing to uplift and service underserved communities. I believe one of the top reasons people don’t support a business anymore is because of their customer service experience. People will never forget if they were treated poorly and how it made them feel, so I make it my business to treat everyone with respect even if they don’t purchase from me. I want customers to know that they are valued, seen, and can trust that my company appreciates them unapologetically. This is a company that believes in truly embracing one’s culture in all its beauty.

My ultimate vision is to help people connect and see themselves in the products and custom creations I offer. I’m most proud of the community I am building with a fellow businesswoman and good friend in the health/fitness industry. She asked if I would pair with her to create a wellness scholarship that helps black women and girls of modest means break into the health and wellness realm. Asè Mune Yoga and Vibing on the Mat (by Ja’Nel Johnson) created the annual Her Wellness Scholarship Fund this past July. Our first scholarship recipient recently completed her yoga teacher training, and we are looking to expand a sponsorship program so that we may help more women of modest means obtain access to wellness. Despite my humble beginnings, I’m happy to be able to uplift and create opportunities for others by way of my business. It’s the customers who make all that I do possible and the reason I create products with them in mind.

So, what’s next? Any big plans?
My plans for the future is to continue to grow SB by Steenah Brennan so that I may continue to use sales & proceeds to fund Asè Mune Yoga in raising up more scholarship recipients. It is my hope that I will be able to continue to make an impact in the community as well as partner with more groups, business owners, and sponsors to keep giving back. With COVID still very present, I plan on pivoting to more virtual interactions with E Y E B E H O L D B E A U T Y makeup artistry to do my part in slowing the spread. I am currently building an infrastructure to host more virtual one-on-one makeup lessons as well as virtual masterclasses. Even though we are in quarantine, I believe people should still feel beautiful if they choose to dress up, even if it’s just to go to their living room for a movie night in.

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Steenah Brennan

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