Beauty entrepreneur Temara Payton is a stunner, sure. But it’s not just on the surface. She has a relatable, yet ethereal energy, where you just know that someone is really living their life and their passion.
Chat with her and you also find a deep knowledge of the beauty industry, thanks to years of informal beauty education.
“I grew up in a home salon, practically—makeup, beauty, skincare, aesthetics, it’s what I know. It’s what I’ve lived in,” she shared.
Temara’s paternal grandmother, Verdie Payton, came from a sharecropping family. Lack of work down South led to the family migrating to Indiana in the late ’50s, a time when life for a Black family was extremely difficult. To keep herself busy while helping support Temara’s grandfather and the family as a whole, she enrolled in the Madame C.J. Walker School of Beauty downtown, a school later renamed as the Lelia College of Beauty Culture.
“My grandmother was always teaching me about keeping my skin and using sunscreen. She was teaching everyone in our family that. Heck, I got my first facial when I was just 12!” Temara laughs.
The cosmetology industry unexpectedly captivated young Temara’s interest, an interest that only grew when she went through a phenomenon that’s all-too relatable: unrelenting acne and eczema.
“We went to doctor after doctor and tried everything, but it was a never-ending cycle: Finally, we just stopped and went back to what we knew, what my grandmother was still teaching us. And that’s how my passion was born.”
Interest morphed into action, with Temara researching the world of beauty products all while pursuing an education in acting and theatre at Ball State University.
“My grandmother always said, ‘Don’t do hair,’ so I got an education,” she smiles, remembering.
The glow of the spotlight couldn’t keep her away from beauty though, and Temara’s professors quickly noticed her aptitude with makeup and skincare. She became the go-to resource for fellow actors and colleagues and while acting continued to take up her days, the evenings were filled with her own investigations into the world of beauty.
“I still act, it’s still my job. I call myself an actor, but my passion is born from the understanding that my body is my vessel for my work. So it’s important to take really good care of it,” she says. “That’s kind of where I experienced the intersection between beauty and skincare: both are part of my job but for the makeup and the visual to work, it’s important for my skin to be healthy and camera-ready at all times.”
What began as innocent advice to friends and colleagues morphed into something greater and in 2015, Temara made a decision that would launch her hobby into new territory.
“When I decided to launch a makeup line I remember my grandmother told me one thing: ‘Tell your clients that before everything else, they have to have good skin,” Temara recalls.
That one line made Temara take a step back, rethinking the business of what is now Eighty One Face + Body.
With $500 in her pocket and two years of intensive research and product trials, Temara was intent on creating a product targeted towards the issues that plague Black and Brown individuals the most: wanting smooth skin and wanting skin free of hyperpigmentation.
She created a face and body scrub to solve both woes and received rave reviews from friends and family. Now, it was time to think bigger.
“I reached out to my estheticians, the people who had helped me learn about my skin. Luckily, I have the gift of the gab, so with social media as my weapon, I started engaging with more and more people. My own estheticians were great: Two of them still even stock my products in their salons. I’m so, so grateful,” she tells us.
As the business turns four in November, Temara can hardly believe the amount of love she receives, both from loyal customers and new entrants.
“The ‘customer service’ piece is huge. I’m always focused on what’s working for my clients and what’s not, and being small and primarily e-commerce means that I grow a rapport with my clientele. A lot of people who choose me over the big players and have stuck with me create a relationship with me: I care about their skin, their experience, their progress,” she explains.
She’s set to grow again, launching a new product this summer while hoping to expand and collaborate with other entrepreneurs, possibly in the natural beauty industry. But as she speaks, the excitement building in her voice and eyes, the heart of the business, the heart of it all, comes back to home and Temara’s grandmother, who guides her, even today.
“She’s always focused on skin and health, and it’s what she continues to tell me: take care of your skin, the rest will follow.”
Most popular must-buys from Eighty One Face and Body:
E-Complex Face System: A unisex, two step facial cleanser system consisting of a sugar-based face exfoliator and a facial oil blend consisting of essential oils and botanical notes
E-Complex Serum: Facial oil
Lavanya Narayanan is a freelance writer in Indianapolis.
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