Markette Smith Sheppard

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Meet Markette Smith Sheppard. TV personality, passionate travel communications professional and natural cosmetics ambassador. We spent a few minutes with her for one of our Famous 5 interviews.

1. How did you get into natural cosmetics?

I stumbled into natural cosmetics after life threw me a curve ball. It all started when I had a health scare about four years ago. I woke up one morning and felt lumps in my abdomen area. They felt like a tiny mountain range that went from small to large. Turns out they were 13 benign tumors known as fibroids, the largest the size of a lemon.

The doctors told me that fibroid tumors are a common occurrence, prevalent in about 1 in 5 women during their childbearing years, but mine had to be surgically removed if I ever wanted to have children.

I had the surgery and it took me weeks to recover and I actually didn’t feel back to my normal self for almost a year. One of my doctors suggested I see a nutritionist and work on cleaning up my diet. At first I thought, “Why?” But then I did my research and learned that a healthy diet, rich in natural and organic foods, is the best prevention for the tumors not growing back. I was sold.

So I started eating organic foods, including hormone-free meat and dairy, and growing vegetables in my backyard. I also switched to organic household cleaners. This went on for about a year until I started to think, “What more can I do?”

Remember that old Lily Tomlin movie The Incredible Shrinking Woman? It’s a story about a woman who begins to shrink because she’s been exposed to too many chemicals. There’s a poignant scene in the film where her doctor tells her she’s wilting away because of all of the chemicals in her personal care and household that she uses everyday. I never forgot it, and the fibroid experience made the film come back up in my mind.

Then one day it was like a light bulb went off in my head and I thought about my make-up bag. I researched the beauty products I had purchased over the years and what I found when I looked up the ingredients was shocking. They had things in them like parabens, endocrine disruptors and phthalates—all chemicals found in cosmetics that the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and National Institutes of Health warn could potentially have a harmful impact on our bodies.

So I started looking for stores where I could have a one-stop shopping experience for natural and organic beauty items. It was exhausting. Sometimes I would buy products from the farmer’s market, sometimes from the grocery store and sometimes I purchased online, but it was all very confusing and time consuming.

I have always had an entrepreneurial spirit, so I researched manufacturers and partnered with a distribution center to launch Messenger Beauty. I chose to stock my e-boutique with natural items from small businesses and companies with a commitment to sustainability. For example, my lipsticks are made by a woman in Pennsylvania. My No. 1 seller, the organic cocoa butter, is made by a company that buys its cocoa fair trade and gives 1 percent of its profits back to farmers.

I am proud that I deal with companies that care. My goal with Messenger Beauty is to inform, inspire and equip women everywhere with the knowledge and products they need to live naturally beautiful lifestyles.

2. What advice would you give for someone interested in learning more about beauty products?

I would say to start with the products in your own make-up bag and Google the ingredients, like I did. Then ask yourself, “Do I really want to put this on my lips? Do I really want to rub this on my face? Would I put this on my child’s chubby little innocent cheeks?”

If you have any hesitation, then there’s your answer right there. It’s time to go green with your beauty routine.

I also suggest that anyone who is interested in dissecting the beauty and skincare items in their household download the Think Dirty app. You can scan bar codes on your smartphone and the app will tell you whether it’s “green” or not. I am not affiliated with the app developers at all, but I found it very useful when I first started to go “green” with my beauty routine.

3. You were a former TV anchor, how did that background help you learn about the beauty industry?

Being in the TV industry, I was used to piling on the make-up. I would just sit in a makeup artist’s chair, close my eyes and let her go to town. All I cared about was looking good on TV and I never considered the chemical make up of what I was putting on my face until I had experienced the health scare. Back then, I also would experience regular breakouts and dry skin.

So when I started researching products for Messenger Beauty, I knew I wanted items that would help women look “camera ready” without compromising quality and my own standards of sustainability.

As a journalist, I had developed the research skills to be able to ask the right questions and check the right resources in order to learn the difference between a company that is “green washing” their products (basically, just saying their items were “all-natural”) versus companies that are truly committed to the environment and chemical-free cosmetics.

For example, one of the places I researched ingredients with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. I made sure all of my information was coming from credible sources before I launched.

4. The White House calls and Michelle Obama wants to hang with you this weekend in DC, what are y’all doing?

Oh, me and Michelle? We are hanging out in the Lincoln bedroom in our jammies watching an “I Love Lucy” marathon on cable TV. She’s braiding my hair and then I’m doing her make-up—telling her the benefits of natural beauty and personal care items.

I’m telling her about how I haven’t had a breakout on my face in more than a year and I’m saying, “Michelle, you did an excellent job with Let’s Move, but now it’s time to expand the messaging of living healthy lifestyles beyond our vegetable gardens to include natural and organic skincare—to help American women clean up their beauty regimens.”

She fist bumps me, tells me she’ll talk to her peoples about it and then tells me to shush! Lucy and Ethel are in the chocolate factory, the conveyor belt is about to speed up and that’s her favorite episode!

5. Which Member of Congress needs better make-up? Kidding. What advice would you give to a press secretary on the hill who is constantly applying make-up to his/her boss for TV?

First of all. Thank you for that laugh. I’m glad you were kidding. On a serious note, all of the female members of Congress are naturally beautiful in their own way. Their organic leadership, their natural commitment to public service, their fearlessness to forge ahead in policy making during these uncertain, ever-evolving times environmental shifts and digital revolutions—that’s what makes them most beautiful. And that’s the message of Messenger Beauty.

This is the message I would give to any press secretary on the Hill. Tell your MOC to—first and foremost— be yourself and let your natural beauty shine through from the inside out. Be genuine and be your own kind of beautiful… and never go on live TV without eyeliner, mascara and powder! (Seriously.)

I carry all three in my store!

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Markette Smith Sheppard