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BEAUTY OF LIFE | Part 1: Brandie

 Today we interviewed Brandie,

She is an entrepreneur, founder of a cruelty-free makeup brand, "Hollywood Hippies." 

Also, one with a remarkable story, that one of a fighter. 

https://www.instagram.com/hollywoodhippies/

https://www.hollywoodhippie.us/

 

BRANDIE
I do a lot of advocacy work, and the people know me as a part of being involved with child foster care. The reason I went that route, I was in foster care, but actually, I was not in it very long. I use that story to kind of filter what happens to kids that go through that system. 
 
But about ten years ago, I used to do a lot of advocacy work for child abuse awareness, and I've found that to be a dark subject and I've gotten in pageants so that I could have a light way of sharing that story. Over the years, it's evolved, and I still have always been involved, whether it's child advocates or rallies or motivational speaking. I've been affiliated with it, whether it's domestic violence, child abuse awareness, homelessness. 
I was homeless, as well.
My story is talking about foster care, what that was like to be pulled away from what you know. A lot of people have no clue what happens when a child is taken from their home. So I think some people have a curiosity there. Regardless of where my platform is, it's always the underlining message that is still the same, or the involvement is still the same. And it's advocating for children's rights.
 
ANNIE
It's that age of like such tenderness where they're so new to the world. 
 
Brandie: 
Kids? Yes, It's proven; I learned this through my advocacy work. It's shown at that age they're sponges, they soak up everything and so much, and so imagine the influence you have. And so the biggest thing for me isn't child abuse awareness and spotting out awareness. It's helping parents that don't, don't think about their communication, and how it impacts the child. Even if you think your child isn't exposed to child abuse, necessarily it's such a key to their success and their hearts and to nurture them. 
 
ANNIE: 
What got you to start doing all that? 
 
Well, I first started with therapy and healing. When you go way back, I'm a twin, I'm the oldest, and I have a younger brother, and I've raised them. It was pretty intense. I'm talking cops episode type stuff, all kinds of things from drugs to violence, to be exposed to all of that. I was exposed to violence, sexual abuse, child abuse, physical, mental, all of it. Some of that blackout. So intense that I walked out and I can't tell you what happened. I had to survive because I was raising a family too. So, when I was 18 or 19, I started going to therapy and didn't even think anything of it. Someone offered to pay for it. And I was like, "okay, whatever. Sure. It's free." And I realized I kind of needed something, but don't know why. Then I start having flashbacks and remembering a thing and that, remembering everything. That was a journey in itself
And that took years of development actually because what I thought I remembered continued to evolve. Now I'll be 38 soon. Not until recently did my healing come full circle. So it took a long, long, long time. I don't want to say that to derail it took years, but I don't want people to feel discouraged by that because everyone's story is different. For me, I was doing intense therapy work, and then when I got married, I was 23. 
I got married and just said I couldn't do it anymore. I looked at my ex-husband is kind of a savior, which is not good either. So I was married for 14 years. And so in that process, it kind of just went through the motions for a long time. Then my divorce, I would say I went back to full circle healing again.
Advocacy work came after I started doing a lot of inner healing trauma therapy. So therapy for me wasn't just talking about things. Therapy for me remembered things from remembering blackout stuff, and people didn't understand like, why do you want to remember your past? Like it's so hurtful. And it felt like I just had to so many gaps that I didn't know how to live in truth. 
I didn't know what my truth was, who I was because I had so many gaps. I would explain it like a puzzle with a lot of missing pieces. I'd just fit in there where they fit in, and sometimes I still don't. After I started healing, I started doing advocacy work, and that was back in 2006 — Foster children for me, my placement where I want to make a difference in older children. So 15 to even 23 because of my situation, I was aged out while I was in foster care, I wasn't anymore when I was 18. 
 
A relative adopted me that no longer had anything to do with me or my siblings. And so legally in the state when you're, aged out but you're adopted, there's no funding or no right for you. My parents weren't in the picture, anyway. It was hard. So I want to help those that were like me, 18 homeless, don't know what to do, don't know where to go. You stayed alive, but you don't have resources, you don't know how to write a check and don't know how to get a job. You have a good heart, but you don't have the resources, you don't know where to go. And so that was me. 
 
I really could have ended up being in sex trafficking or prison or a drug addict by this point in my life. The kind of colorful life that I had, those are your options as that's kind of where you go. But I had a good heart. I had some good there, but I could've given up. I could've said, "I guess that drug looks pretty good." I had to figure it out. I do know that there's a lot of children in that situation; that's where my heart is. I want to help them before they get lost, you know? 
They have the heart, and it's not their fault. When they go through these different foster homes, they're just staying alive. A lot of these foster kids create the habit of stealing. It began as an instinct to survive.
 
I didn't realize that when I was going through my training, they were talking about kids surviving. I was like, well, luckily I'm not a thief. I never had to do that. I never had to steal to survive, And it dawned on me, I did. I felt guilty for a second. When we're kids, that's exactly how it starts.
I remember being in the foster system; it was a group home. We Graham crackers, and every time I walked by that drawer, I would steal Graham crackers. I'm shoving them in my pocket. One day the drawer was empty, and I looked at the staff and said, "There are no more Graham crackers!" And they said, "Well, yeah, you have them."
That's a cute story, but that's how it starts, you know? Things I didn't have growing up, I was hoarding in that house. So clothes, toiletries, and food. I even did that as an adult without realizing it! One day I was like, "DUDE! My closet as packed! My pantry's stuffed, my bathtubs overflowing. So it even turned into a different habit down the road for me because I didn't ever want to run out.
I have a charity called the oven mitt drive. So the idea is that the oven, it represents Christmas stockings. So you think of children and Christmas stockings, you need, don't want to deprive them of their stocking. You know, when you look at the adult child, well, they deserve a life too. They deserve love and nurturing. They still deserve a stocking.
 
They're an adult child, but if it were your child, you'd probably still get them a Christmas stocking. We look at them and go, well you're an adult, figure it out. It's called adulting. But if it's your kid and you wouldn't say that to them, well maybe you would, but you would have some nurturing and guidance for them.
 
That's the message that the oven mitt drives sends; you're just as important. You have needs just like children. So they have a stocking, you have an oven mitt. We started doing that, and that was successful. We would make donations for homeless children and, and I did stockings for them. And then we've done book drives and backpack drives. There's always some sort of involvement that we do.

ANNIE:
 That's beautiful. In the foster care system, when you get, like when you turn a certain age, they just let you go?
 
 
Brandie:
It may be different now. It was the 90s, and I was in Minnesota. You age out of the system. I think now they have resources. Again, my situation was different. I wasn't in foster care when I aged out. I was in foster care when I was 12. My mother died when I was 13, and my father was in prison. We could have gone back into the foster care to get adopted, but my grandmother decided to adopt us, but then she didn't want us anymore. So then we all bounced around to different homes. When I was 18, I was still abused, and this time it was sexually by a family member. 
 
So when I was 18, I don't know if you'd call it running away, but I pretty much backpacked a big paper sack, one of these tall Brown bags, and I filled it to the brim and left. And so I was homeless again, but I was still in my car.
 
That's how I got into the beauty industry. I was homeless for a while. I needed a job and went and got a job at Dillard's; I don't even know why they hired me. I looked like crap. On the application, they asked, "where you want to work." I remember looking around, and I thought the girls were pretty, and I thought if they hire me in cosmetics, it means they think I'm beautiful, I didn't have any interest in doing makeup. I was just broken. 
They didn't hire me for makeup, but they hired me for cologne for men. They first hired me as part-time, but I quickly got to full time. Then I upgraded to women's fragrance, and then I got into cosmetics, and then management. Then I started just now became more of an actual makeup artist. 

I've traveled, and then I started working on film sets and movies, and working on the show won three Emmys and done some cool stuff. My resume stacked, and I've worked with a ton of celebrities — I kind of share all that.

 
Now even though I do advocacy work for children, I do motivational speaking that despite your account, we didn't get to choose our past; we didn't get to choose some of that brokenness. But we can choose how we want to amend it together and what we want to do with it.

I have this vision; sometimes it's a clay pot, and, hell, there are cracks in it. The light seeps through it. So if we want to, we can have perspective, and our scars can be radiant. To me, that cracked clay reminds me of our scars, and so we can have a message and let it shine through those cracks, you know, that's beautiful. And then we can help so many people that way.
 
ANNIE:
Resilience is powerful here. What is it that keeps you pushing? 
 
Brandie:
I would say, I could give you the cheesy answer and say, God.
I would say from the get-go journaling helps. I would say knowing where you start and continuing to see the transformation; sometimes, we're not aware. Photoshoots are a moment in time where it captures information, and you see your transformation. That's why I love photoshoots, but journaling does the same way, can go back and see the transformation in what you're writing. But I would say constantly keeping tabs on your growth.


Don't get so overwhelmed like, Oh my gosh, like you're not losing weight. We get so overwhelmed, and we haven't lost anything. I would say do your adventure, and it's kind of like me, I just lost 30 pounds, and I didn't even realize it. I didn't lose 30 pounds overnight. It's like I was still living my life doing my thing, and then all of a sudden, I realize, Oh, I've lost weight, but I wasn't absorbed about it. I'm just trying to learn to adapt to a new life. You learn to make healthy choices. You learn how to get through.

I think for me, the biggest thing when I started having flashbacks was how do I get through one moment at a time? I think people get overwhelmed when they realize their past; they realized what they're up against. "Oh my gosh, I came from a family of drug addicts and homelessness. There's no hope for me." There is hope for you. But instead of looking at the big picture, look at what can you do today.

When I started remembering my past, it was very traumatic. I didn't know how to handle normal situations. I had so much anxiety. You look at me the wrong way, and I would want to run. My anxiety was so bad, and it's because I had my triggers, but it wasn't your fault cause you look at me with your wonky eye doesn't mean it your fault! I didn't know that time, and it felt like everybody was out to get me.

Learning how to get through day by day, how did you survive that moment, and what did you do to get past that moment, and what can you do next time to get through it again? My coping mechanism was when I was at work; I would tell myself, okay, right now, you're dealing with this. Cool. If you're going to, we're going to work through this later, this flashback you just had, you got to get on the cash register and help this client get out the door. You can't be thinking about this flashback you had, but it's okay, it's cool. We're going to look at this. So I'd put my flashbacks on a shelf, and at the end of the day, I look at them and process them and journal. And that's, that was my surviving. That's what I did.

Continue to figure out how to make steps to move forward with whatever your story is, figuring out what's best for you, keep moving forward and then see the transition because it'll continue to grow and grow and grow. You're never done so, and it just keeps getting even better and better. That gives you hope, knowing the difference you make. That gave me hope back then. I remember going to my therapy session and going, "Oh my gosh." I was brand new. I remember going to her, showing her my journal, and like, "Oh my gosh, I'm so amazed by how far I've grown since I've started coming here." I was going for a few months. I remember she was like, "don't stop because one day, if you don't journal, you're not even going to remember. You're not going to remember this life right now. It's going to seem so far and so foreign to you." And she's right because I'm not that person anymore. I integrated and grew so much through trauma therapy and healing that when I talk about that past, it's like a movie I watched.


I would associate detach a lot. It's like PTSD, but what I dealt with was a little bit more intense than PTSD. I learned to survive, and I'm not ashamed. People have told me, Hey, maybe you shouldn't be sharing that stuff. Hey, you know what? I'm not taking on the negative energy that you have with what you just said. This is life, and I'm just here to be a vessel and to grow and inspire others because I think when you live in truth is when you can truly grow.

If you don't look at the truth in your heart and you're ignoring something, you can't grow.

I describe our hearts like a flower garden, and our flowers are all beautiful and real. And sometimes the flowers in our heart in regarding hurt like roses with thorns but then those thorns can protect us too. But sometimes we put fake flowers in our garden. Like we pretend like everything's okay. Well, fake can't grow. And sometimes we put material things in our garden where it covers the soil. A heart has to be a pure real garden with all real flowers. And so far, I've got something in my heart I need to look at, whether it be trauma or abuse or depression or whatever it is that a battle to get where I'm at. And that is true beauty for me.

 

Brandie Alea

(Wearing: Mardi Gras Purple Dress, Black Beauty Floral Blazer


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