When brainstorming ideas for my blog, I thought of my favorite women that I follow. Rachel Hollis, Jenna Kutcher, Alison Faulkner… All of whom have made their mark and grown their legacy, while inspiring other women to do the same. A lot of the time, this is through interviews with different people who are experts in their field. I thought it would be super fun to do that too! This is the start of a new series, World Changing Women Wednesday. (Say that five times fast!) Every Wednesday I’ll be here, posting interviews with inspiring women from their corner of the internet. First up… My friend Stacie Lee Borges!
Stacie is an incredible gal who has made her mark on the internet. She is an influencer who shares everything from her daily life, the crazy antics of her cat, and her fashion and beauty finds to health issues, makeup and more! She’s grown an impressive following online and continues to strive to use that platform for good by inspiring women to be their best selves and never settle. Funnily enough, we met in Target! 🙂 Talk about a strong basis for friendship! Read on to hear more about her journey!
What is your name?
Stacie Lee Borges
Tell us a little bit about yourself, and your background! We grew up not too far apart, but never crossed paths until recently. What was life like for you up until this point?
That’s right, we did! I forget about that! Life for me was amazing growing up. I’ve only recently realized how lucky I was to have grown up in the middle of the forest. I didn’t know anything different before I left town. I honestly thought our trees and ocean and greenery was like this everywhere. I wasn’t truly homesick until I started to miss the river when I went away to college.
I left my hometown at 19. I went to Santa Barbara City College and then graduated from Long Beach State (GO 49ers!). I stayed in Santa Barbara for 10 years before moving to NYC for a little over a year. I came back home last October to save money. I’m currently getting my masters online and that’s about it!
I know you are an esthetician and an MUA! I love makeup too! What are some of your favorite brands and products?
Although I became licensed at 19 for esthetics, I didn’t really get into it until I was in my early 20’s. I double majored in college and at a certain point in the middle of my junior year I became overwhelmed with school, I missed beauty school and being in a salon environment. So, I signed up for beauty school, again, for a makeup program (yes, I was simultaneously going to college and beauty school at the same time, on top of work. I don’t know how I did it. Oh, to be a young twenty-something with energy again…). Once I became a licensed makeup artist is when I really started to dive deeply into ingredients in certain products and different makeup and skincare lines. At the time, I was engaged, my fiancé came into the relationship with a lot of debt so we were on a tight budget chipping away at that so I wasn’t able to afford the higher-end brands. Also at the time, my college town didn’t have Target so I was stuck with whatever makeup CVS was selling. Gosh, now that I think about it, we were so tight with money back then that I kept telling myself it was an ‘investment’ every time I bought the cheapest makeup from the drugstore; and it was! I started freelancing and soon makeup school easily paid itself off. I was getting really good gigs and making fast money. So, makeup is definitely an investment for me!
That being said, my answer to the question is drugstore makeup brands are my go-to for myself and my clients because that’s what I learned with. I personally would never use a MAC foundation on anyone because the likeliness of their skin having a bad reaction is very high. Basically, you just have to check ingredients with makeup products and drugstore brands have always come out on top with (most brands) not testing on animals and just the quality isn’t too much different from high-end brands. Just because something is more expensive, doesn’t necessarily mean it’s better. For example, L’Oréal and Gorgio Armani are manufactured by the same company, they just brand the packages differently. Same quality of ingredients though.
My favorite drugstore brand is Maybelline and then next would be L’Oréal. For high-end, I would say Kat Von D and Marc Jacobs never cease to amaze me. I’m a hippy when it comes to skincare. I go all natural. I love Lush products and the brand, Fresh the best.
Do you have any favorite beauty YouTubers? Any thoughts on all the drama?
Casey Holmes has consistently been my favorite for years. As far as any drama goes; it makes me sick. People get a little bit of money and turn into someone else. The thing about YouTube is that your personality naturally comes out in your videos. So, with most YouTubers, you can progressively see them getting more and more self-absorbed the bigger they get through their videos. If you search your favorite YouTuber’s first video vs. their most recent, 99% of them are a different person and that makes me sad. I hate seeing that and I promised myself that if I ever got to a level of having that kind of money, that I would remain the same. I never take any of this for granted. Always stay humble and kind and there will be no drama.
Other than skincare & beauty, what sets your heart on fire?
Movies, reading, writing, a good story, my cat and tattoos.
I have always felt like there were multiple careers I could be successful and happy at… If you weren’t doing what you do now, what would you be doing?
Something involving helping under privileged children. I have such a soft spot for kids who weren’t born in the best situations. Living in NYC really opened my eyes to that. I saw that daily. I used to volunteer at The Boys and Girls Club and I need to get back into that!
You have an impressive following online!! How did you start sharing content and becoming an “influencer”?
My ex fiancé actually encouraged me too and I fought him on it because I was embarrassed to really put myself out there. I remember him saying, “Nothing bad can come from it”, and that was what ultimately convinced me. I felt like I had life experiences and makeup tips that I could share. Also, I have something called ulcerative colitis and I really wanted to share my insight on that and maybe help other people. I just really want people to see my Instagram and YouTube and realize that life isn’t always perfect. I definitely put it out there that mine is far from that. So many other influencers stage their pictures and create a euphoric life on Instagram. I feel that it makes viewers feel less than they are just because they don’t drive that fancy car, or they don’t have a perfect husband like that. Comparison is the thief of joy and unfortunately that’s what social media is turning into. I don’t want other people comparing themselves to me and feeling bad. I want them to be enlightened by my page and my videos. I want them to know that life is far from perfect and they aren’t alone. A lot of brands have passed up with working with me because I don’t “stage” my life like other influencers. But, I could care less. I will never change what I feel is right for the sake of money or exposure. I saw a quote the other day that you actually posted! It describes why I will never stop sharing my life to the public over social media.
It said, “Every day that goes by when you don’t share your story-and you hold on to the answers-someone remains in the suffering that God delivered you from. I’m more scared of leaving this earth with my answers, than being judged for them while I’m here.” If putting my life out there is even going to help one person, it’s worth it and that’s why I became an influencer!
What are some of the biggest lessons you’ve learned from sharing your life online? Have you had any crazy moments?
I’ve learned that my parent’s generation will never understand social media and see it like I do. I’ve always wanted to use it as a platform to tell my story and possibly help others who deal with the same stuff in life. Not all social media posts are done in vain. Mine certainly aren’t.
As far as crazy moments go, it’s when people recognize me! It’s only happened a few times but it’s so surreal when it does! Like, I’m no one special, why are you asking to take a picture with me? One time in particular, I was living in NYC and was meeting up with a date that I had met on Bumble. It was our first date so I was a little nervous. I walked in to the restaurant and he had told me prior that he would be standing at the host stand waiting for me. I spotted him, we met and gave that awkward ‘first date hug’. The hostess walked up to us and told us to follow her to our table. As we were walking through an extremely crowded restaurant, I heard a scream from the table across the way. When I turned my head, a girl was running towards me saying, “Oh my god! Stacie Lee, I follow you!” Of course, the level of her voice made heads turn and my date was so, very confused. Especially when she handed him her cell phone to take a picture of her and I. Once my date and I got to sit at our table, I explained everything about Instagram and YouTube (which I usually don’t do until at least the second date!). He was very boring so needless to say, I declined a second date. But, I will never forget his face when that girl ran towards me! It’s funny thinking back on it!
Another time, I, once again, was talking to someone online on a dating app. We were deciding where we wanted to go for our first date. We went to a super fancy NYC restaurant that took both our names for the reservation. So, he immediately found out my last name and like any normal human being these days, he googled me. He saw my picture and then texted me and said, “Are you the girl in all the charcoal teeth whitening ads?!” I replied with, “We’ll talk at dinner.” Yes, I was the girl in the Carbon Coco teeth whitening ads, he found out right away! I’d rather get to know someone first before they find out what I do as a side hustle. It’s better explained in person.
You’ve been vocal about your refusal to settle down with the wrong person, which I think is so admirable! It can get tough, but I love that you know your worth and refuse to give in. What advice would you give other women out there who are in a similar season of life?
Never settle! I say that all the time! 90% of the people I went to high school with that I see getting married or have gotten married have mostly settled. I know this because, as you know, we came from a very small one-horse town! Where we grew up, everything you do in the dark comes to light. Everyone knows everyone’s business. It’s impossible to keep a secret. Sometimes I’ll see a post on social media about how happy someone is that they just got engaged and how their future husband is the love of their life. Then later that night, you hear about them getting kicked out of the local dive bar for screaming at each other (this isn’t a made-up story by the way! It happened!). Or people who have been together since high school and are comfortable with each other at this point, whether they’re happy or not, end up getting married just because it’s the “next step” in life. People settle. They just do and maybe sometimes without even realizing it. I don’t want to be that person.
What I would tell other women is, forget about your age. There’s this notion that everyone should be settled down by their 30’s. Who says that? It’s not written in stone. Never feel too comfortable to leave. Never ignore red flags; your gut instinct is smarter than your heart and head. Listen to it. Don’t care about what other people think. Which I know is hard, especially in a small town, but I’d rather wait another 10 years, maybe even be known as the town spinster if it leads me to happiness, than care about what others think. Lastly, never love someone more than you love yourself!
You recently started a collection with Stones Throw Boutique! That’s so exciting! What was this process like for you? Do you see yourself doing anything further in the fashion scene?
I never saw myself working in fashion, actually. But, I’ve found a love for it. I’ve always been a bargain shopper when it comes to clothes and so I picked pieces that were in style, good quality but inexpensive. We don’t have a lot of shopping options around here so people rely heavily on only one or two boutiques in town.
The process of it was scary for me! I was afraid no one would like what I picked but we’ve already had to make re-orders on pieces and that’s crazy! It makes me so happy. Going to the store’s website and seeing my name and my collection is so surreal. I’m so grateful for the opportunity that Stones Throw has given me, let alone believed in me enough to pick a collection! Crazy!
What’s next for you? Where can people find you?
That’s up in the air right now. Eventually, most definitely New York City again. Waking up every day in that city, burns a fire inside me to be successful and reach for the stars. There wasn’t one moment that I lived there where I didn’t feel motivated to do what I wanted to do in life. I swear, there’s something about the energy there that is unexplainable but yet so amazing at the same time.
What is the highest and lowest point of your life? What have you learned from those triumphs and struggles?
When I was 18, my best friend died and my parents divorced all within weeks of each other. It was right after I graduated high school. That was my lowest point. My world was flipped upside down and I’m not sure if it necessarily has ever flipped back to right side up. I don’t remember who I was before then. It’s so strange to think that at one point I lived without knowing what it’s like to lose a person. I also took my parent’s divorce suuuuper hard. I still do. I wouldn’t say that I necessarily want them back together but, of course, I wish they had done things differently in regards to their marriage for the sake of my sister and I. But, marriage is hard. I’ve been engaged twice and even that was even hard. At the end of the day, I understand it. It was just extremely difficult for me to realize that my parents are human and it still is. My sister took the blow much easier than I did even though I was quite a bit older than her. That’s still the way it is. I can’t explain why I have such a hard time with it, I just do. The silver lining is that I probably would have married my first fiancé thinking that everything works itself out in the end because I would have been comparing myself to my parents if they had stayed together. Their divorce definitely has made me so much more caution on knowing who I ultimately want to spend my life with and my worth. So, in some very important ways, I’m grateful for the divorce and I love seeing them happy.
As far as losing my best friend, that’s something I’ve never spoken on in all my years of YouTubing and putting my experiences out there. It’s hard to talk about. It’s been 12 years now, but I still cry just as hard as I did the moment I found out he was gone. I would say with time it gets better but, I’m not sure I believe that. Losing someone is the worst experience in the world. One second they’re there and the next they’re not and they never will be again for the rest of your life. It’s so permanent and so out of your control. I wouldn’t wish it upon my worst enemy. Since the day he left, I’ve been seeing counselors on and off. One of them told me that you never stop grieving. There are just times where you grief a little less for a few years and then periods of time where you grief more. The 10-year anniversary hit me HARD. I had this feeling in my gut to go to Thailand (I know, this probably sounds so random!) but I believed he was giving me that feeling to go there so I went. As I said before, listen to your gut. I was hardly in the financial position to go, but I had to. My friend and I landed in Thailand right on the anniversary of his death. So, we literally left the airport and went straight towards the ocean, luggage in tow. He loved white roses so I bought a bouquet at a street market and threw them into the Indian Ocean. That was the first thing I did. I didn’t even look at the scenery around me when I got off the plane. It was like, I knew exactly what I had to do right at that moment. For the rest of trip, I prayed a lot. I went to a lot of temples and just sat there knowing I was doing something for the both of us. I learned a lot about Thai traditions and Buddhists take on death. I talked to him a lot too (I probably sound crazy but no one understands until you lose someone). Going there was the best thing I could have done for myself at that time.
How did that experience shape you as a person? Has it affected the way you live your life today?
Very cliché to say, but I live my life to the fullest and I don’t take anything for granted. I’m a lot more in tune with my spirituality than I was before he passed.
What change would you like to see in the world? Do you think you can help achieve that?
Everything! I think so many things need to be changed in this world, I don’t even know where to begin. I guess to sum it up is for the world to progress forward. All I can do is be the best version of myself and have an open mind to help change that.
What is your most embarrassing moment?
I honestly don’t get embarrassed! I’m usually the first one to make fun of myself!
If you could meet one person dead or alive who would you choose?
My Dad’s dad. He died when my Dad was young and I’ve always wondered about him. I used to go to his grave site in high school and just sit there sometimes. I’ve never really told anybody about that until now, actually. My great uncle told me that I am a lot like him. He said that a few weeks ago and I haven’t stopped thinking it.
Food: Seafood! Hands down!
Coffee Order: ICED white chocolate mocha with coconut milk! (must be iced, I HATE hot coffee!)
Song of the moment: Music questions are always so hard! I’m a big fan of music from the 70’s. However, I do love rap and country! I guess anything that can make me dance at that moment is my favorite song! I LOVE to dance!
Dessert: Alllll of the dessert. I have a BIG sweet tooth!
TV Show(s): The Office. Amongst others, but nothing will ever be better than The Office.
Color: My Bengal cat is the love of my life and his eyes are the most beautiful emerald green, so green is definitely my favorite!
Celebrity: Leonardo DiCaprio (we’re soulmates, he just doesn’t know it yet.)
Place to spend money: Target!
IG Accounts to follow: @bgorgeousguurrl and @hdbeyoutee are my girls! They are so down to earth and relatable. Everyone should follow them! They have been the most positive influence and so helpful in this crazy blogging world. I feel like we always have each other’s backs when it comes to sharing each other’s pages to our followers. Usually bloggers ask for something in return but they’ve always helped me out of the goodness of their hearts and I’m so grateful for Instagram otherwise I never would have met them! Also, everyone should follow @justbrandi_. Her stories make my day.