Like A Boss: Finding Empowerment While Advocating for Safer Beauty Products
We have a chance to come across so many strong, resourceful women in this community who approach motherhood in beautifully diverse ways. We would like to tell some of their stories.
First up is a mama who has recently relocated her small family, began a small business, and is motivated to make a huge social impact by the way she lives her life. Welcome, Jocelyn!
“I grew up in Massachusetts with my twin sister and openhearted, passionate parents. I’ve always been supported to do whatever I’ve wanted in life – this was the greatest gift my mother ever gave us. We were taught to believe we were strong capable women who could follow our heart.
I’m not sure I ever learned to be financially responsible though. My life has always been more about passion and heart.”
Finding Her Voice
True to that pursuit of passion, Jocelyn fell in love with opera in high school:
“All I wanted in life was to be an opera singer. From high school to about age 33 or so, this was my main passion in life. I pretty much sacrificed everything for that. I wouldn’t talk for long periods in order to preserve my voice.”
Having completed her undergraduate degree in upstate New York, Jocelyn continued her graduate studies in opera. She moved to Chicago and became a massage therapist to help finance her singing career. Ultimately, massage led her to become a self-described “anatomy geek”, as she began teaching anatomy courses at her massage school.
A Blind Date
After a summer spent in Italy when she was 28, Jocelyn met an opera teacher who offered her an assistantship for graduate school. She packed her bags and headed south to Atlanta, completing her graduate studies over a two-and-a-half-year period.
While in Atlanta, living with roommates, falling in and out of love, but most importantly, learning, Jocelyn was set up on a blind date:
“The day I met Charles, I returned to my roommates and told them I had met the man I’m going to spend the rest of my life with. I was planning to leave Atlanta, but Charles had just won a position with the Atlanta Symphony so we ended up staying.”
The Big Apple
In 2008, Charles was offered a 1-year position with the New York Philharmonic. The engaged couple moved to the Big Apple together with Hazel, their chocolate lab, or as Jocelyn describes her, their 1st child together. Once in NYC, Jocelyn realized that although she had been a big fish in a small pond while at grad school, this new experience was going to be something entirely different. Everything started to change for her, and after so many years of pursuing her passion for opera, she began to question herself.
“I knew in my heart that opera singing was not how I was going to spend my life. I just was convinced that I couldn’t give up any more of my life as a sacrifice when I knew that wasn’t meant to be. I started drinking coffee and wine – the whole world became open to me all of a sudden.”
Feeling Alive and Loved
And with this realization came the question: “what do I want to do with my life?”
Jocelyn has always been drawn to chanting and yoga, even traveling to India and spending 30 life-changing days in an ashram the year before moving to New York. So she pursued a new passion: she went to Laughing Lotus for vinyasa yoga teacher training. She was drawn to the focus: your devotion to your own wholeness, what makes you feel alive and loved.
You Can't Put Words to It
After they moved back to Atlanta and got married, Jocelyn became pregnant at age 36:
“I never had a timeline – it didn’t apply to me. I always knew being a mom was one of the most amazing things in the world, but I didn’t always know that I would become a mom. Becoming a mom is by far the most life-changing decision – up until then my life was about me & my passion. But becoming a mom, you realize the giving and the love that you give, feel and receive – you can’t put words to it.”
After their daughter Stella was born via medically necessary caesarean, Charles and Jocelyn began a grueling experience as Stella struggled with severe allergies, eczema and other skin problems. It was the beginning of a long road for a mom who was so focused on holistic interventions. Jocelyn tried everything natural for her daughter’s medical issues, without success : natural balms, alternative doctors. The only things that worked were wet wrapping Stella’s limbs at night to help her sleep and the use of medicated asthma pumps.
“I was putting things on Stella – directly into her pores as soon as she got out of the bath – products full of possible carcinogens. I trusted pediatricians for relief. I would put Cetaphil on my 6-week-old baby, even though I was never comfortable with it. Something felt ‘off’.”
During these difficult years, as Jocelyn tried to address her daughter’s physical discomfort, she and her husband had decided not to have more children. They couldn’t imagine how to care for another infant when they were already up for hours every night caring for Stella’s allergies, barely sleeping at all.
“I knew there was another one who was supposed to join us. But Art was not planned.”
Their son, due on Valentine’s Day, was born a day early following a traumatic 48 hours of back labor ending in a forceps vbac.
During the early days home with her baby, a close holistic friend who was aware of the struggles with Stella’s severe allergies, and who herself had suffered allergies since childhood, approached Jocelyn about her own small business with Beautycounter. This company aims to provide safer beauty products while offering educational information about ingredients and health.
Initially awkward, Jocelyn ended up buying some skin products just to encourage her friend but soon discovered that these were the only products that helped soothe Stella for hours at a time.
“Charles was actually the one who encouraged me to pursue starting my own business with Beautycounter as a way to help our family financially – yoga teaching wasn’t helping enough with finances.”
So even with no direct sales experience, Jocelyn was convinced that these skin products that were the only way to soothe her daughter might be worth learning more about. She signed on as a consultant with Beautycounter and now sees this small business as a “mission” – another passion.
“I can’t do something just to make money. I have to do something that tugs at my heart. I see this as a movement. It takes me out of my comfort zone – anything that involves talking about money is hard for me. It’s hard to charge what I think I’m worth. This company has stretched that in me. It’s for moms, dads, kids – all of us. Yoga means ‘union’ and ‘connection’. This work, too, is a type of connection, a form of ‘selfless service’ – I do feel there’s a sense of serving the greater good by reorganizing the way we approach our health. Beautycounter is a B Corp (benefit corp). It uses commerce to benefit the planet and the people (like Ben & Jerry’s, Tom’s shoes, and Patagonia).
There is advocacy work being done in Washington, DC.”
Jocelyn and her family moved to Toronto, Canada in July 2017 when her husband Charles won the job of principal percussionist with the Toronto Symphony. They see this as a fun adventure and great opportunity for him. To some degree, Jocelyn feels like she’s returning to her roots by coming back up North.
Trip to DC
So as her daughter is now 6 years old and her son almost 3, Jocelyn continues to pursue her passion for social change with Beautycounter in Canada. She has the chance to travel to DC this year as the company is sending its top 100 American consultants to advocate in front of Congress and other representatives for more health-protective laws in the personal care industry. This is all part of the company’s 5th year anniversary on March 4th.
To boot, Jocelyn has added 6 new members to her team as of December 2017, including her mother and twin sister.
A Huge Honor
“For me to envision going back to our country and advocating on behalf of all of us, for moms who are going through what I went through with my daughter, for girls who are suffering from health issues – this would be a huge honor to represent both Canada & the United States in that respect.”
A Sense of Empowerment
I have always felt a little guilty for not being better with money, and for instead being someone who has always followed my passion instead of following ways to make ends meet. Now I feel empowered as a woman – mostly stay at home – predominantly at home – my son goes to a few hours of daycare. I work during naps. I can drop and pick my kids up. Sometimes I might work 4-5 hours a week and sometimes 10-15 hours a week. I feel like I’m having an impact on other lives. I can help other women start their own business and offer that same sense of empowerment.”
Making a Social Impact
“As a mom I was feeling that I wasn’t connecting outside of mom-talk stuff, and this offers a whole other level of being involved in the world and feeling like I have purpose and worth. I have always done ‘my passion’ but I was never paid well for it. This is the first time in my life when I can make a social impact and make such a financial contribution for my family and for others as well. It’s been awesome!”