Welcome to the first edition of Clean Corner! In this new blog series, we will be highlighting people in the clean beauty industry we admire – whether that’s a blogger, influencer or brand owner. Our goal is to shed light on the ins and outs of the clean beauty industry, get intimate with our favorite people, and introduce you all to new faces and brands you may have never heard of to further enrich your clean lifestyle journey. So, expect to see us pop in every now and again with a new interview about coming clean!
We’re kicking off strong with Lisa Fennessy who many of you know as the blogger from This Organic Girl. Her reviews are thorough, and her recommendations are informed and thoroughly tested. She is respected and loved by so many of us. But today I wanted to understand what makes Lisa tick. We think you’ll fall in love with her just as we have. Have fun reading the interview, we think it’s “wicked” (Boston Adjective!) good, if we do say so ourselves!
What is the best memory from your childhood?
My Dad was born with an entrepreneurial fire in his belly and he always worked odds and ends jobs until he landed his own bar/night club in his fifties. Growing up, I vividly remember this one time my Mom sewing t-shirts for my Dad’s friend to sell. Our entire porch was filled with “Life’s A B*tch” tee’s that my parents told me said “Life’s A Beach”. Although they didn’t really think that one through because I was in high school at the time and could read. At various points in my Dad’s life he was a king palm tree planter, used car salesman, hot dog stand guy and a window washer to name a few.
My favorite job he ever had though was truck driver/furniture deliverer. He’d be gone for weeks at a time delivering furniture all over the country. And although I’d miss him terribly each time he would go, I was giddy with excitement for his return. He would unload all the empty, HUGE furniture boxes into our living room, and we would make houses, villages, cities…cutting out doors and windows, laying sidewalks and roads, coloring fairways and ponds. And then we would spend hours making up elaborate stories to go along with our corrugated wonderland.
I know you grew up in Boston. I lived there for several years and loved it. So, the question: If you could bring one thing from Boston to Atlanta (excluding friends and family), what would it be? Why?
Um, The beach. Obvi. I thrive near water. I love the beach, the salt air, the wind, the waves, the sun warming every inch of my body. The laying on the sand on an old furniture pad for hours and hours. I grew up going to the beach and it’s such a big part of my childhood, my spirit and my soul.
Also, Boston has some really poignant, really effective, really satisfying trash words that really help you get through the bad days. The south doesn’t have much of that. I mean there is only so far “Bless his heart” will take you.
What is the best piece of advice you have received and why?
Don’t eat yellow snow. Just kidding. Although, keep that one friends. It’s a good one. One piece of advice that I got from a mentor when I was in my twenties has always stuck with me. I was studying and working toward a national certification and feeling all sorts of “less than.” I wasn’t as good as my peers and I felt I never would be. Skill came natural to others and it wasn’t coming as naturally or as quickly for me. And I was getting pretty down on myself about it.
That’s when a mentor told me, “There is space for everyone in this field and everyone has a place.”
Meaning we all have unique talents we bring to the table and just because they are not valued in one specific situation, they may be incredibly valued at another.
I think this applies to the online world now too. There is a place for you and there is a place for me, and we all come to the table to enrich this space in a way that’s unique, insightful, creative and passionate. Best part? There are unlimited seats available at the table so belly up sister.
I imagine, as a blogger, you switch up your routine all the time. What is the one product that has stood the test of time throughout the years?
Can I say a category? Before I started exploring clean beauty, I had never even heard of a “face oil.” And even if I had, there would have been zero appeal for me to put an oil on my face. I mean let’s be honest, I worked all day trying to get my face to be less oily with Noxzema Pads, finishing powders and face blotters. ADDING oil to my face? That would have sounded so gross to me.
But then I tried oils and they changed my skin. And after using oils for 5 years now, I swear I look younger today than I did on my wedding day 10 years ago. Face oils for life!
You are one of the first people in clean beauty who has written about their journey of going Gray. What was the most surprising thing you discovered about going Gray?
That I actually like the way I look now. I was so sure I was going to do it and hate it but I did it and I absolutely love it. I really never expected that. I also wasn’t ready for all the internal work that came along with the process. Coming to terms with my self-image, my identity, my story, deciding what gets to define me and what doesn’t. I didn’t realize all of this would surface just because I changed my hair color. It’s really been such a beautiful process. I’ve documented/journaled about most of it on my blog if anyone wants to follow along.
What is a fun/quirky and wonderful fact about you that most people don’t know?
I am a nationally certified ASL Interpreter which was my full-time job for 15 years before I started blogging full time.
What would constitute the perfect day for you?
It would start out with what I like to call Y.M.S. It’s the new age G.T.L. (gym, tan, laundry) for all the Jersey Shore fans out there. Y.M.S. is hitting up the yoga studio, then face masking and then topping it off with an extra thick smoothie. I mean, what’s better than that!?
If it was the perfect day then I would follow this up with some variation of trail walking, boutique shopping or exploring in the afternoon. And then early evening wine with my girlfriends to round it all out.
Maybe somewhere in there I win the lottery and cure cancer too.
If you could wake up tomorrow having gained one quality or ability, what would it be?
Oh my gosh. Hmmm. I am one of those girls who has to hire everything out because I don’t know how to do a thing! My husband and I often joke that between the two of us we have to hire someone to change a lightbulb. In all seriousness though, our dish disposal was broken last week for five days until we realized all we had to do was hit the reset button on the outlet. I mean, you would have thought we won an Olympic gold the way we were cheering and high fiving. My Mom on the other hand can change a toilet, install a ceiling lamp, whip up some lemon meringue and sew a wedding dress all in a day. I kinda wish I could do that.
What do you consider the greatest accomplishment of your life, not counting your kids?
I STARTED playing volleyball freshman year in high school and I made JV instantly. Most likely I got granted a spot on the roster because I came rollin’ in at a lanky 5’10”. It definitely wasn’t the Dee Brown t-shirt, Cross Colours yellow jeans shorts, scrunchy socks or Keds that caught the coaches’ eye on the first day of tryouts.
That fall, one of my high school coaches saw potential in me and encouraged me to attend a week-long summer volleyball camp so I did. There, one of the coaches encouraged me to try out for the local Junior Olympics team, so I did, and I made it. The Junior Olympic coaches told us that if we worked hard, we could get a college scholarship. And the seed was planted.
For the next three years I worked my tail off. I never skipped a practice or a workout at the gym. I literally remember making my parents drive me to the gym on Thanksgiving. I was 100% dedicated both mentally and physically to the goal of going to a good school. Something outside of my local community college which would still have been a stretch financially.
Three years later I got offered a five-year, full ride to play D1 college volleyball at Northeastern University in Boston. Here I majored in Journalism with a concentration in Public Relations/Advertising- a skill I put on hold for 15 years but use on the daily now. I know winning this scholarship was a major fulcrum in my life. And there’s no way I would be where I am today without it.
What led you to transition to a clean routine? What clean products do you think could be improved upon as a category? I know that mascara has been difficult for companies to get right, although I love LilyLoLo and Vapour..
My son was born with eczema that’s triggered by dairy, but it took me 18 months to figure it out because no doctor ever mentioned or suggested the potential correlation. That was really the moment I knew I needed to take our family’s health into my own hands, so I started researching the crap out of everything which led me to realize the average American’s everyday toxic load is NO JOKE.
That was essentially the catalyst. Then I found my passion in continuing the conversation through the lens of clean beauty.
There are a lot of great, if not better, swaps available today for conventional beauty but a few categories are still severely lacking like hair dye, shaving cream, teeth whiteners, a variety in men’s cologne and purple shampoo….just to name a few!