Lea Black: Entrepreneur, Author, Philanthropist.
Interviewing reality stars is a strange gig. You either love them or you hate them. Most of them are just obsessed
with the limelight and hope to stretch their 15 minutes of fame by making headlines every few months with a scandal. Trying to get them to say something besides “I’ll be launching my emoji app” in a few months is like cutting teeth. But once in a while, you get to sit across from someone who’s actually worth talking about. Lea Black was not only
fabulous and glamorous, but also philanthropic, motherly, and quite blunt, which I appreciated.
Lea Black is the epitome of #nofilter – not only for her upfront nature but also for her incredible skin. Even her voicemail tells people not to leave a message because she never checks it. Don’t you wish more people did that? Alongside her toy poodle named “Baby”, the conversation flowed about her passion for her skincare line, her fabulous and affordable evening bags, and helping at-risk youth. We watched traffic slow down to a crawl
as we enjoyed a late lunch on Sunset Boulevard
and I learned there’s so much more to Lea Black than being a Housewife.
We all have a reason why we get into the beauty industry. What were your reasons? Who or what were your influences?
I started when I was 18-19 years old, concocting my own products. Neither of my grandmothers ever had a wrinkle because they concocted this product with aloe vera gel and albumin. They’d just slather it on their face all of the time. It kept them so youthful. I found another company that made a similar product but it wasn’t as good, so I went to a lab to have it made and we called it Sudden Youth!
Do you think the skincare industry has changed for the worse over the last 25 years? Are they taking more drastic, less natural, approaches to promise women certain results?
I think that the original skincare industry was more natural, organic, and out of necessity and health. It’s become very commercial. There’s nothing wrong with that and there are a lot of good brands, but there are also a lot of brands that people just stick a label on and start selling. They’re not unique. Mine all have clinical studies that back up the claims we make. We use the best raw ingredients. Mine take years of perfecting and continuing. Now it seems like people just come out with a skincare line overnight.
As you got older, did your beauty routine get more intensive or less? What did you add in and cut out of your routine?
I started out using Sudden Youth a couple of time a week and I’ve stuck with that routine my entire life. In the morning, I use a wash, serum, and lotion. At night, I use a wash, serum, and cream. I use the exfoliant every 2-3 days and the mask once a week. I like to keep it simple. You don’t need 100 products. You just need a few good ones.
All of the products in Lea Black Beauty are under $30. For someone who exudes luxury and glamour, that seems like a low price point. What made you choose a more relatable price point?
I sell online at the wholesale price. When I sell it internationally they double the price. So I just pass the wholesale price onto customers here. I really believe that this product is the best product for women of all ages. I want everyone to try it, and everyone that tries it sticks with it. I want to to share the product with more people that are struggling with their skin because they don’t have to be!
The Real Housewives of Miami ran from 2011 to the end of 2013. How did that show change your life? Did the show open up any doors that you were surprised about? Did it close any doors?
It didn’t really close any doors because I conducted myself the way I do in life. I didn’t go crazy like some of these girls that try to do anything for attention. It opened some doors; I met a lot of new and interesting people. People recognize me often and I’d say it opened a door that way.
How did it change your public persona?
In the beginning in Miami, people knew me as someone who was married to a prominent lawyer who worked on charity a lot. I don’t know if people knew I had a skincare line. So people now know I have it. I think having the show made more people buy the book (Red Carpets & White Lies), but I didn’t write the book for other people. I wrote it because it was a fun thing to do.
Almost 20 years ago, you founded the Blacks’ Annual Gala, with donations to troubled youths. How did that become your chosen cause?
When I got married to my husband, who does criminal and civil work, I started seeing what happens to these families when the dad goes to jail. I couldn’t sit by and watch it. So I got involved with the kids because the earlier you catch them, the better chance they have of them not becoming criminals. If they do get in jail, most of them don’t have the money for bail or to get a decent lawyer. They become professional criminals.
How has focusing
on this cause changed your life?
It makes you stop and think about how lucky you are because if you were born into one of those families, you would turn out the same way. You have to have compassion for these people because they didn’t choose that life. They weren’t taught right from wrong. This is where they end up.
Has it affected the way you handle your own son?
One hundred percent. I expose him to it. I talk to him about it. I want him to see it. I want him to realize how lucky he is and realize that the world doesn’t revolve around him. He has to do his part to make it better for everybody.
My number one focus is my kid and his education. Two and a half more years (when he graduates) and I’ll still be obsessed but I won’t have as much control.
Do you find that outside of you and your husband’s influence, that the people he’s surrounded by don’t give him that example?
The school he goes to is very good about that. And his friends’ parents are really good. But in general, teenagers aren’t hit over the head with it enough. Most teenagers, including my own, have a sense of entitlement that the world is perfect. They don’t have any idea what struggle and effort and survival are, or what waiting for your next meal or getting beat by your parents feels like. You can tell them all day long but they don’t get it because they haven’t experienced it.
Is there any other cause you’re passionate about? Do you do hold other events throughout the year?
I go to several events a year and send out donations. I also support two or three other charities that are also for at-risk kids.
And everything else…
You have a collection of jewelry and handbags. Which came first and what was your inspiration
behind these two lines?
I’ve had the skincare line forever. Then I did the handbags out of necessity because every after-five handbag that I saw that I thought was unusual, unique, and would last forever was $2-3,000. I put out a whole line of bags that are under $300 and they look fantastic! There was no reason to have a $3,000 bag just to go out at night! I started having them made and people starting asking about them!
I started a jewelry line because I’m an addict for fine jewelry and costume jewelry. So everywhere I went, people wanted to know where I got this and that and I started having them made. People love it! I get a few pieces of each one and move on. I have a lot of trunk shows to promote my products.
What do you wish people knew about you?
I’ve never really cared if people knew me that well. All of my life, I’ve never been one that’s jealous of other people. I hope that everyone’s successful, has a bigger house, bigger car, bigger diamonds than me; they’re not affecting my life. I never really cared too much about what people think as long as they’ve drawn their conclusion based on facts, not hearsay or rumors. I do care about what people say because I think if you say something you should be able to back it up. That would annoy me when someone would say something that is absolutely not true and have no basis in fact. That happened a lot on the show. I felt compelled to defend myself out of integrity. I feel people should deal in facts. People live in a non-factual world and draw these conclusions and consider them facts. Everyone has their own truths but there are facts!
What’s next for the Lea Black brand? More beauty products? Another book? More TV shows in the works?
I made an agreement with the publisher for three books. I already have a second book in my head. The next one is [also] Jackie Collins-esque but it would be easier to determine [the identities] of the characters. It’d be more gossipy and I’d throw a lot of people under the bus because they’d deserve it. I worried a lot about camouflaging and not hurting people’s feelings [in the first book], but then I learned that people are offended if they’re not in it and they’d rather be in it in a way that’s not flattering than not be in it at all. Page Six said my book’s the next Jackie Collins book. That’s good enough for me!
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