Pt. III – Jen Phuong and the Exploration of Intrapersonal Intimacy

On her company, Flaws of Relativity, the (outdated) standard of beauty, and empowering women from the inside out.

Things don’t always last forever and that’s what, I think, flux means — constantly evolving, changing, growing, and pushing your comfort zone.

For a while, staying out late wasn’t as appealing as when I was in my early-20s nor my standard of fun—and as I grow, I’m learning to find balance and meaning in the mess. So, now, I find the genuine act of connecting with people who know how to hustle and flow… is my kind of fun.

And beauty is this innate thing that makes you attractive.

Getting to know Jen

Tell us about yourself

I build things — sometimes — because engineers raised me and I have a smart-ass brother. I meet other humans occasionally because, through collaboration and conversation, there is innovation. I help individuals launch their businesses through events and workshops by connecting humans with each other under one roof and across the interwebs. I simply match the right products and services to the right people because I don’t manufacture anything.

How does your Asian cultural upbringing impact your views on beauty?

From a very young age, being Asian has definitely impacted my views on “beauty”. My permanent tan made it difficult to make friends in Vietnam when my family and I travelled there. The other kids would call me ugly and said I was lying when I told them I was from Canada. They didn’t believe that someone so dark would come from a country like Canada. In my pre-teen years, my caramel skin became something that most people sought after, I realized. However, I still didn’t feel beautiful because all my life I wanted to be fair.

What was the one thing you’ve always struggled with growing up and how did you overcome it? Or learn to cope with it?

I hated my Vietnamese name — Phuong—because people couldn’t pronounce it properly.

Talking Shop

Describe Flaws of Relativity in 5 words or less.

Vulnerable and badass women.

What motivated you and your team to start Flaws of Relativity?

We learned the hard way that building a business in a man’s world was not as easy as we thought. Equality is different from equity. We may be given the same resources and skill set but that’s not equality in any company or business.

Co-founders of Femme Theory, Jen and Mari

For Example:

You worked with a lot of clients that have a darker complexion, why did you start there?

I attended training sessions to learn how to make custom foundations and the instructors there when it came time to talk about skin tones. They said that working with people with darker complexions will be the hardest because their skin exhibits the most complex amounts of undertones. I found it fascinating that because of this fact, I got to play with more colours! It was a challenge for me but I figured if I started from the most difficult first, it would equip me for anything! I guess it was my mother’s mantra growing up — do all the difficult things first before going out with your friends; a.k.a do all your chores first before going out.

Your work focuses on clean makeup, skincare, and also including supplements. Why did you choose to educate and help women transition to cleaner products?

I guess I kinda worked backwards. I care more about the environment and the planet than I do about what I put on my face, therefore everything that affected the water and its ecosystem affected my choices in beauty products.

…our “truest” self is always there, the masks just change depending on how much you want to reveal to others or if you want to see it the other way…

Going sk-IN deep

Our culture has lowkey normalized wearing masks and “showing face” to protect ourselves from how people may see our authentic selves. How many masks do you wear, if any?

I wear them all the time.

What does self-care mean to you?

At first, I thought it was bubble baths and getting your nails done but it truly evolved to getting myself in check/in-line. It’s time to recalibrate my mood/my thoughts/my mentality because being around other people, you can be drained of your complete self.

How do you implement it into your busy entrepreneurial lifestyle?

When partners or clients cancel on me, I don’t take it personally anymore. I started to give people the benefit of the doubt and try to be more compassionate. So, when I decided to implement that into my business, I allowed myself to do the same — sometimes I need a reminder but I started to schedule myself into the calendar now.

Misc.

How do you define beauty?

When I think of beauty I think of my mom’s bathroom counter immediately, for some reason. Maybe because I recognized the difference between vanity and beauty from a very young age. Vanity is how you want others to perceive you — I think. And beauty is this innate thing that makes you attractive. That’s a bit of a round-about way of answering this question because I think beauty has a round-about way of representing itself.

Who are your influences?

It changes in intensity but since the beginning of 2019, Michelle Obama has been my biggest influence. She’s poised, speaks with conviction and is passionate about her mission and she does it all with grace.

Michelle Obama, Whitney Cummings, Paul Stamets, and her folks.

Do you have a dirty little secret?

My skin, my studio and my client kits (for consultations) are pristine but my car, my bedroom and my office is a mess (not dirty, but super messy)!

Eye of a Designer. Writer. Co-founder of Women United Project. Check out my debut co-authored book, #WomenLetsRise