#SelfCare as a trending topic may be approaching the place where tired phrases go to rest in peace, but actually making time to tend to your mind, body and spirit will always be a necessity. For Shauntavia Ward, founder and owner of eleMINT Skin, taking care of herself meant leaving a decade-long career in nursing to start a beauty and wellness business.

Walking away from a steady paycheck and benefits to build a career from scratch in an already dense industry may sound like waking up and choosing chaos daily. But, thanks to an education in medicine, a love for beauty and holistic health and guidance from Meta Elevate mentors, the skinpreneur believes her choice will lead to work-life harmony while helping others on their paths to well-being.

Ward talked to Blavity about launching eleMINT, blending science and wellness practices in the beauty industry and getting support as a business owner from Meta Elevate.

Blavity: Tell us a bit about yourself and eleMINT Skin.  

Shauntavia Ward: I am a nurse practitioner. That's where I started my career 10-11 years ago. I became a registered nurse working in the ER — hated it. It was so stressful. It was a way to make ends meet, but I was entirely, incredibly overwhelmed. I quickly realized that I needed to transition into something that would be more supportive of my physical and mental health. So, I became a nurse practitioner [in 2016], and I started a [beauty and wellness] blog because I really wanted an escape. I was so stressed being at work, and I needed an outlet, a place to pour out my emotions, something that I enjoyed.

I would write about hair, skin and nails and some natural things you can do to achieve your best self, but it got no views. Nobody was looking at this thing, but it was a really nice outlet for me. eleMINT actually grew from that blog. 

eleMINT is a nontraditional day spa. We mostly call ourselves a facial studio. We offer facials that are plant based or [done with] food-grade ingredients. We do an apothecary-style facial. It's truly a bespoke and organic experience. The best thing that we do is cultivate the sense of skin positivity.

Blavity: Why did you decide to get into skincare?

Ward: When I became a nurse practitioner, I wanted to connect my passion with my expertise. I started to work in various medical aesthetics. I would do laser hair removal, plastic surgery — anything that has to do with beauty, I was in it, but from a medical standpoint. What I realized super quickly was everything that I enjoy in regards to beauty — for example, the true connection between beauty and wellness — was missing in the medical aspect. It was more about following societal beauty norms and being okay with traditional beauty consumerism. 

I felt like we were contributing to this disconnect between beauty and wellness. It was at a point in my life where I had to align more of what my own personal morals were when it came to beauty and how I could show up in my career with the experience I had as a nurse practitioner. So I opened eleMINT [in 2019].

Blavity: How has your health care background influenced your brand’s holistic approaches?

Ward: I think a huge part of what we do in medicine is educate. The problem is we educate sometimes, unfortunately, based around what insurance companies will approve. I think sometimes the education is misconstrued around traditional Western medicine standards. So, I would take the education piece, but more so educating clients on how to make more informed choices, how to ask the right questions, how to be an advocate for yourself and what living your best life and being your best self looks like for you.

Blavity: How has Meta Elevate helped you in your business? 

Ward: [In spring 2020] I was stressed in the hiring process of adding more staff to the eleMINT team. Once I finalized our team, I knew that great marketing would be imperative. Around the same time, I was having a conversation with a friend and fellow creative entrepreneur who knows good programming and keeps his ears to the streets on opportunities for Black-owned small businesses. He told me about a program that was designed to help small business owners like us develop strong digital ads strategies: Meta Elevate. 

I had a bit of hesitancy about the program. But honestly, it was a game changer. I had mentors, and we met every week for six to eight weeks, and I felt really comfortable. They took time to get to know me, to get to know my business and to figure out how they could best serve me.

They taught me solutions for digital marketing, and they gave me deeper knowledge for how to utilize ads and how to create marketing strategies and even graphics. It helped me connect more with my customers. Most of our customers find us through Instagram. Being able to create an ad that resonated with the customers and allowed them to see us and how we can serve them through our space has been invaluable. 

At a time when I felt overwhelmed, confused and misguided on growth strategy, Meta Elevate gave me confidence, support and a means to growth through compelling content and ad strategy. 

Blavity: What advice would you give new entrepreneurs?

Ward: Something that has been important for me, but also invaluable to my success, is understanding that, yes, there are going to be competitors in your field, but you need to identify them more as worthy rivals to be aware of rather than a competitor. Keep your blinders on and focus entirely on who you are, what your brand's message is, who you serve, why you serve them and continue to reevaluate that every few months to make sure that you're honing in on that message.

There's always space for you, and nobody can do what you do like you do it because you are the secret sauce.

Learn more about how the Meta Elevate program can help you reach your customers.