Temi Marie's light and pleasant voice fill my small study as we chat on the phone about her career, femininity, and the power of makeup.
Temi built her beauty profession at a young age. As we speak, I dig a little into her younger years and eventually draw the colourful line from her past to now. She laughs as she recalls being limited as a young girl by her strict African parents (something we admittedly share, and yes, laugh about together!) so she stuck to the occasional swipe of mascara or lipstick in the shades of blue or purple. Her mother, hailing from Nigeria, was a fan of putting on her ‘wedding best’ and dressing up, something Temi speaks about with pride. The cultural connection between Temi's career and her Nigerian heritage is faint if you are not looking for it, but it's there. So is the role of her family in her course to make up as a profession. She reminisces about doing make up for her sister, her friends, and anyone else who would ask.
That marriage between helping people and providing beauty services really came to fruition when Temi's uncle suggested she take her skills and volunteer at a local women's shelter, she tells me. Temi offered her services to women who were survivors of physical abuse, and I make the connection between makeup and domestic violence almost immediately. There is both physical and emotional damage that occurs with this kind of abuse, and makeup has the ability to heal emotionally and physically. Assisting women with the reclaiming of their body and self-confidence was "rewarding", Temi goes on to say, "that really convinced me to turn it into an actual profession."
Philanthropy has always been mixed in with her professional life though. Her establishment of HERDAY, a Toronto networking platform that allows women from all walks of life to connect during a series of seasonal events is only one example. In a fast-paced city, it can feel incredibly lonely and demanding, so it came naturally to Temi to create a space that is genuine and uplifting. An intimate social refuge from negativity, HERDAY is all about community and the resiliency of strong women. While it is a collective arrangement, it also allows for different enclaves of women to find their voice and embrace their femininity—whatever it means to them. If you are getting the vibe that Temi is creating a group for impromptu life-coaching to happen, then you're totally spot on.
Now, we know that feminism and sisterhood can be co-opted and capitalized on. It can be difficult for women, particularly Women of Colour, and Black Women to find spaces that put their interests first.
"There's no agenda here..." she explains, "it's not for profit, HERDAY is authentic".
I pushed further on the topic of authenticity and paired it with the idea of self-care. As a busy woman whose job centres around making other people feel safe and beautiful (among other things), I wondered how Temi took care of herself by asking what self-care looked like to her. "It's not just about a face-mask!" she laughs, "there's no uniform look for self-care. As someone who is in the business of self-care, I've learned that it must be both inside and out. It should be free of judgements, and be self-driven!" While Temi stresses the importance of doing things by you, for you- it is imperative that you remember to look for allies. "Balance is super important."
When I ask her about the women who inspire her, she mentions the women she surrounds herself with. Her closest friends: one, an entrepreneur, and the other a nurse "are regular women! They open doors without even realizing it."
Sitting there, hearing such a confident woman share her life and experiences effort, I ask if she had any gems to share with me and readers. She begins to list them. "Keep your circle small! It's okay not to have a huge group of friends. Remember your purpose!" she exclaims, "surround yourself with good energy, and people who remind you of your purpose too. You attract people as you work, the road to your goal doesn’t have to be lonely. It's okay to need people, to ask for opinions." I ask what advice she'd extend to her younger self, aside from what she already shared. "If I could go back and tell younger me that she had the potential to inspire others I would, which is why all the advice I've given is really still relevant." she shares. "Some girls aren't taught they are powerful."
"You don't owe everyone all of you at once. Be picky, be aggressive, learn to say no." I personally enjoyed the idea of being "picky" and urged Temi to elaborate. "Observe the right things, keep the energy you want and need around you. Keep mentors and connect with people! It's okay to demand help. As women, we're taught to give and give. You should take away from people, to learn from them."
That idea of being a tad selfish with your energy and time pulled the conversation in the direction of reclamation. When I ask what Temi had reclaimed for herself, she responds with "I'm still reclaiming!" I laugh, and she continues. "I'm reclaiming a lot of what was taken from me because of trauma I'm dealing with. I'm reclaiming space, a lot of it. Energy. My feminine vibrations and everything I am capable of. I'm consistent and driven, I want to keep that up! I can be overly empathetic, I want to be able to reclaim that also. Boundaries. Those are so important. I want to reclaim those also."
There is so much up next for Temi Marie, her excitement ringing clear in her voice. Emotionally, there is a lot of closing doors. A lot of "summer cleaning" if you will. Out with the bad energy, in with the good. With HERDAY, she hopes to build more partnerships and expand with other like-minded women in the city of Toronto. With her brand, keep an eye out for her eponymous skincare line, formed thanks to guidance, tips, and tricks provided by Temi's grandmother. Along with a podcast where she'll undoubtedly drop gems like the ones in this interview.
As aforementioned, "some girls aren't taught they are powerful" and Temi Marie surely is an example of what happens when they are.
Photography: Hazel Lee, Carine Zahner
Styled by: Vivi Diaz
Assisted by: Andy Yoon, Andreya Klobucar