Brooke DeVard Is Proof That You Can Pivot At Any Time

Brooke DeVard Is Proof That You Can Pivot At Any Time

The hallmark of creativity is rooted in the desire to bring ideas and spaces into the world that didn’t previously exist. Before our vision can ever become a reality, we first must see it in our hearts and mind first. And at every career turn to the early stages of her award-winning podcast, Naked Beauty, that’s been Brooke DeVard Ozaydinli’s edge. “I've always gone out of my way to create things that didn't exist before,” she tells xoNecole. “I've been the person to raise my hand to say I can figure out how to do it.”

Before she became a beauty maven, DeVard was a corporate marketing specialist with a career resume stretching across some of the world’s top companies, including Ralph Lauren and Viacom. Most recently, she acted as the Creator Marketing Manager at Instagram and spearheaded the creation of the official creators' platform. “At Instagram, they didn't have an account to reach creators at scale, so I said we should launch an account so that we could reach them.”

When she first launched her beauty-centric podcast, Naked Beauty, in 2016, DeVard was led by her passion for skincare and beauty and her curiosity for untapped topics around natural hair, DIY beauty rituals, and self-care, thus creating what is now the universe of Naked Beauty Planet.

If you allow your mind to wander back to 2016, memories of “girl boss” culture and the rise of dating content might come to mind. At a time when podcasts and YouTube videos gained ground in pulling on women’s desires for love and corporate ascension, DeVard sought to create an audio experience that spoke to the curiosities of the everyday beauty lover.

“I'm all for empowerment, but I thought, is there a space to talk about the best waterproof mascara if you're going to cry all night?” she shares. That question alone has since laid the foundation to produce over 250 episodes of Naked Beauty, with a community of devoted listeners from all ages and stages of life.

“I want everyone to listen to Naked Beauty and feel like they're having a moment amongst friends,” she says. “To feel like there's that intimacy. I try to allow my guests to feel vulnerable and to share their vulnerabilities.” A guest list of which is peppered with beauty gurus and public figures like Pharrell Williams, Gabrielle Union, and John Legend gracing the mics to share their unique beauty experiences — a feat that DeVard could not have imagined.

“I was really passionate about creating authentic conversations around beauty and self-care in a way that didn't feel geared toward a particular goal, but I had no idea that it would grow as much as it has,” she recalls. “I did not see that at the beginning, but I think passion, hard work, and consistency over time always wins.”

It was these same passions, as DeVard illustrates, that led her to go against the popular adage, “Don’t quit your day job," and follow her creative nudges.

Before taking the leap into full-time creative entrepreneurship, DeVard imagined what life would look like if she truly went all in and betted on herself. “I asked myself, 'What would you do if you weren't afraid? What legacy do you want to leave behind?'” she recalls. “I have always used my time and expertise in service of other brands and companies to build up someone else's vision; but what would it look like to give 100% to my own thing?”

No longer using the “scraps” of her weekends to put towards her creative endeavors and taking failure out of the equation, she drove into her second act as full-time host of Naked Beauty in early June.

“If you are in a position where you have this feeling that you could be doing more or pouring into your own vision and business, you should listen to that,” she says. “Take the leap of faith. You're only here once, you only have one life to live. You don’t want to have that lingering feeling of, what if I had done this.”

As she embarks on a new era of her journey, walking in purpose is what’s making DeVard feel most beautiful. “I feel really beautiful in this era of my life because I feel like living in alignment with what I believe is my purpose and calling,” she says. “I think that when you are operating from this mode that feels like you're listening to your intuition and listening to your higher purpose, that's when I feel the most beautiful.”

xoNecole: What are some ways that you found helpful in building your creative team when you were first starting out?  

Brooke DeVard: There are so many super-talented women that work in a corporate, medical, or tech career who have a passion and hunger to do something creative with the extra few hours they get in a week. And they just want to exercise their brain in a more creative way. I have found that if you put out a fun, creative project and ask people in your existing online community for support, you'll be blown away by how many people you would have never even considered would be able to help you.

That could be the person that could help you elevate your vision and potentially work with you part-time.

xoN: As we’ve reached a crossroads in the beauty landscape where beauty standards are being dismantled, and many Black women are embracing new cosmetic procedures, what is your take on the current state of beauty space? 

BD: I used to be a little bit more judgmental about cosmetic procedures. But as I've spoken to people on the podcast that do injections and lasers and Botox and all the things, I’ve recognized that is all a beauty choice. We have agency over our bodies the same way if I want to wear red lipstick or get lip filler. I've learned that it's not about what you're “supposed” to do, it's about people being able to choose the aesthetics that they want, and people are entitled to that choice. But I do think it's very important to do your research and due diligence to know the doctor.

"I've recognized that is all a beauty choice. We have agency over our bodies the same way if I want to wear red lipstick or get lip filler. I've learned that it's not about what you're 'supposed' to do."

Photo courtesy of Brooke DeVard

xoN: What are some of the biggest challenges you've faced while building Naked Beauty, and how were you able to overcome them?

BD: Being in a place where I knew I needed support, but I wasn't in a position to hire support. I do think that there's something really beautiful about that time period when you're just starting out on your creative journey, and you have to do everything. You're your own graphic designer and copywriter, but then when your team grows, you're able to brief them on exactly what you want.

There have been times when I've really needed help and wanted to expand myself in these ways, but it's all about patience and giving yourself time to grow at a rate that feels sustainable.

xoN: What advice would you give to someone who is interested in starting their own podcast or pursuing a side hustle in addition to their full-time job?

BD: I would say: just start. Don't let ‘great’ be the enemy of ‘good’ — and done is better than perfect. I think a lot of people get embarrassed about this gap between where they think they should be and where they are now. And if you're doing anything creative, your beginning product is probably not going to be great (unless you're like a prodigy). You have to just start putting yourself and your work out there.

People love to see a ‘come up’ and an evolution. It's an authentic part of your journey, so you've got to lean into those first iterations of your creative work, maybe, won’t be the best, and be okay with that. There's so much to be gained from putting yourself out there.

"People love to see a ‘come up’ and an evolution. It's an authentic part of your journey, so you've got to lean into those first iterations of your creative work, maybe, won’t be the best, and be okay with that. There's so much to be gained from putting yourself out there."

Connecting with other people and having an impact on others has to be what drives and motivates you — not looking cool, or having a certain amount of followers or vanity metrics — that's going to be the thing that allows you to open yourself up to sharing and expressing yourself. That's going to drive you versus getting it exactly perfect.

For more of Brooke, follow her on Instagram @brookedevard. Find episodes of the Naked Beauty podcast here.

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Featured image courtesy of Brooke DeVard

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