Angel had always been a beauty product DIYer. Her frustration not finding suitable products, especially once she ditched the chemical relaxers, led her to her kitchen where she experimented with pure, natural butters & oils. Going natural not only made her look fabulous it ushered in a new career as an entrepreneur.
La Belle Femme was created.♥
– as told to The Silver Women
Tell us about yourself.
I was born and raised in New Orleans. I feel fortunate to have been raised in a city with rich cultural influences – (African, French, Spanish, Italian and more). My first job was a library assistant at my high school, which surprised no one because I was always an avid reader. As a young child, rather than play outside, I spent my summer days at the library. Gulf coast summers are brutally hot!
Women who inspired you as a young girl?
My mother and my godmother are the most influential women in my life. My mother taught me the value of hard work and present sacrifice for future rewards. If you want something, you better be willing to work your butt off to get it. My mother also taught me the importance of pursuing your dreams and forging your own trail – even when those closest to you can’t see where you’re going.
My godmother, “Nannie”, was my personal Fairy Godmother. Not because she rescued me from a dreary dungeon, she simply indulged me. And yes, it was wonderful! I have vivid memories of shopping sprees to Godchaux’s (in the 60s’ it was THE department store in New Orleans) followed by fancy lunches (traditions I continued with my own daughter).
A music teacher and classically trained pianist, though she didn’t pass on that skill, Nannie did make sure I was classically trained in Southern etiquette like how to set a proper table with linens, china and lots of silverware. It’s why I love a beautiful tablescape.
Everything tastes better on bone china! #NoPaperPlates
What in your opinion is aging gracefully?
It’s a personal definition and for me, a work in progress. My goal is to be the best version of my present self. That means embracing life with an eye towards the future – because I’m looking forward to it. I’m intentional about self-care – physical and emotional health, which includes doing things that make me happy. It’s not vanity, it’s SANITY.
Women, who you think have aged with graceful integrity?
This is a VERY long list, but I will start with two of my favorites:
Nancy Wilson, an amazing songstress, and a classic, timeless beauty who rocked her silver hair long before it was fashionable. She was my silver role model.
Tina Turner. WOW. Her energy, legs, strut, radiant smile…and like me, she’s never met a stiletto she didn’t like!
‘My first memory of a television commercial
with products created for me with beautiful,
proud images that looked like me was for
Image courtesy Angel Cornelius
“The La Belle Femme woman is comfortable in her skin.
She is not mourning her youth but celebrating this new, vibrant season of self-discovery and possibilities.”
Tell us about La Belle Femme Beauty?
I never intended to start a company. I was simply creating pure, natural and luxurious products for personal use. But friends and family who received my ‘production overflow’ really enjoyed the moisturizers and soaps. They encouraged me to sell them. I began with an Etsy store and 15 months later, was discovered by ESSENCE magazine who invited me to participate in their BeautyBox subscription program. La Belle Femme was officially launched in 2016 when over 14,000 subscribers received a sample of the Pomegranate Kiss Body Butter.
The line has grown from a few body butters and soaps to over 15 SKUs with 6 additional products scheduled to launch this year. La Belle Femme is created with thoughtfully selected, sustainable ingredients.
Why hair care products?
My first strands of gray appeared when I was about 13 years old. With the exception of a few years in my mid-30s (when it came in strong), I’ve been comfortable with it. I used the same product for over 20 years, but it became increasingly less effective and in fact, seemed to do more harm than good. This was around the same time I began using natural butters and oils to make skin moisturizers, so it was a natural progression to experiment with making hair care products. I added nutrients to seal in moisture and combat dryness and porosity. I avoided ingredients that robbed my hair of moisture (sulfates, phosphates) or added unwanted color (violet pigments). The result is what is now known as the La Belle Femme 3 Step System, created to add vibrancy and shine to silver and blonde tresses – without moisture robbing detergents or harsh purple dyes.
“Women, who inspire me NOW?
I admire women who disrupt the status quo.”
Recently I was chosen to attend Project Entrepreneur, a conference for female entrepreneurs, created by Jenn Hyman and Jennifer Fleiss (Co-Founders of Rent the Runway – Fashion Industry disrupters.) Arianna Huffington (Media and Political disrupter) was a keynote speaker. I also admire Ava DuVernay and Shonda Rhimes (Hollywood disrupters) for creating works that represent the entire spectrum of the American experience, including women who are equally beautiful and strong.
First Lady Michelle Obama trailblazed her own amazing path, not in the shadows, but alongside her husband. And of course, Oprah. They thought she was disrupting daytime TV, but instead, her ripple effect became tide waves which even today continue to disrupt and influence culture.
ANGELS SKIN & HAIR TIPS
What’s good for your skin is also good for your hair.
Hydrate– I can’t stress this enough. I keep a water bottle handy at all times, especially as we gear up for warmer temps. My two-morning cups of café au lait don’t count, so I compensate for that by drinking a bit more than the recommended 64 oz.
Moisturize– The best time to seal in moisture (skin and hair) is when it’s damp. I apply body butter immediately after showering for a velvety smooth finish and health glow that last all day. My hair is naturally dry, so I use the same principles of locking in moisture by applying a leave-in conditioner that contains sweet almond oil, a nutrient-rich but light natural oil.
Protect– Skin is the body’s largest organ so whether you choose sunscreen, protective fabric/hat/sunglass or all of the above – cover up! I’m not saying you can’t enjoy the sun (we need Vitamin D), but you should take precautions to avoid overexposure.
Remember, EVERYONE needs sunscreen because EVERYONE can get sunburn. (Some of us just burn more quickly than others).
Summer sun will burn your hair, so invest in a few awesome hats!
It really depends on my mood. My daily moisturizer is Pomegranate Kiss Body Butter, a blend of sweet, spicy and citrusy notes. At the end of a long day or intense workout, a steamy shower followed with soothing French Lavender never fails.
For scent I love jasmine. A single bloom can intoxicate a room with fragrance. For the sheer beauty of design, I think calla lilies and orchids are divine!