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Laney Crowell, founder of The Moment

The day of our interview with Laney Crowell, she walked in and sat down as though she had done it 100 times before. Her experience working with people and innovative brands is clear; she has an eased demeanor, confidence, and a matter-of-factness about her that - as we came to learn - is a result of years of "going with your gut" and living out your truest passion. Read on to learn what it's like to go against the grain, take a leap of faith and define beauty on your own terms. 


Laney! You've had such an extensive and impressive career from working as a fashion and beauty editor to becoming the director of editorial content and social strategies for Esteé Lauder to now launching your own beauty / wellness site, The Moment. Can you tell us a bit about the journey that led you to where you are now? 

My entire career has been in fashion and beauty, from working in magazines at Elle and Lucky to working at a huge corporate brand. I've thought a lot about that journey because for the entire time I felt like something wasn't totally right. It wasn't comfortable. That's really where The Moment came from; from wanting to take all the things that didn't feel right about body image, beauty, retouching, every aspect I've witnessed and felt really uncomfortable with, and wanting to redefine the meaning of "beauty" and talk about it in a totally different, deeper, and more substantial way.

I equate having worked at a corporate beauty company for five years to getting my Master's Degree. It was awesome, but in the first month that I started, one of the women I worked with told me I would look like Hilary Rhoda if I lost 15 pounds. She didn't mean it in a mean way, but it very much embodied all my issues with fashion and beauty. Beauty should be a super fun, empowering, awesome industry and instead, it really promotes a certain look that is largely unattainable.


When you were working for these bigger beauty brands, did you try to change that conversation or did you feel stuck in corporate parameters? 

Oh, for sure. I think that's the cool thing about social media and working with influencers. It's an amazing new space because these influencers are real girls, real people. They come in all different shapes and sizes. They tell their own personal stories. I had the opportunity to bring a lot of that into the brand that I was working at. I hope it made a difference, but it's a bigger problem than just what you can do in one place. The movement is slowly turning though.


As a kid, what did you want to be when you "grew up"?

I remember sketching fashion designs when I was around 12, and was always just fascinated by that world, for better or for worse. I've also always really loved food, because I grew up in the kitchen with my aunts and my mom and my grandmother. My mom was a diplomat, and my dad was a lawyer, so there wasn't really these ideas of 'alternate' jobs. I think that was where I kind of was left in this confused state. I mean I majored in math, you know? When I left college, I was like, "I actually have no idea what I want to do." I worked at a movie production company. All these kids were reading five, ten scripts a week, and I would read zero scripts. The kid next to me one day said, "You read these magazines all day long. Why don't you go work at a magazine?" I moved from L.A. to New York not knowing a single person here.

I ran into Kim France, the editor-in-chief at the time of Lucky magazine, at Banana Republic on Fifth Avenue. I was such a fan girl of hers, because I read her editor's letter every month and I loved her magazine. When she walked out of the store, I told myself, "You have to say something to her!" So I ran after her and said, "Ms. France, I moved here. I'm having the hardest time breaking in. I've been interning full time for free, five days a week at Elle magazine for months, working double shifts at Barbuto every weekend." She got me my first job, and that was very cool. She wrote me an email after we met that day on Fifth Avenue and said, "You have the most important skill which is fearlessness." I was like, "If she only knew how fast my heart was racing when I talked to her." She was very supportive and cool.


Can you talk a little bit more about the importance of fearlessness and confidence within yourself? Especially in the workplace? I mean sometimes you have to 'fake it till you make it...'

I think that when you're in the flow and when you're doing what you're meant to be doing, that fearlessness comes a lot easier. When I was working in a corporate job and I wasn't in the right place, I felt a lot of fear. A big part of The Moment is our consulting for brands which I started doing first, but it wasn't until I started working on the editorial portion of the site that I felt like things were flowing and things were happening the way they were meant to be happening. The more that flow happened, the more confident I got. I think when you're doing what you're meant to be doing, that confidence comes so much easier. When your gut is telling you, 'You're not meant to be here,' it's really hard to be confident, which is what I think happens when you're not doing what you're meant to be doing.


So tell us about The Moment.

I didn't know what The Moment was going to become when I started it. I just knew that I needed to be creating something. It was really interesting because even before I knew what I wanted The Moment to be, the second I put that idea out into the Universe, I started having all these people and opportunities come to me so quickly that I almost couldn't keep up. When you're searching for these clues and then begin to see them, it's really exciting. I still tell myself every day, "I have faith that this is going to become what it's meant to become."

I was super focused on the idea of this balanced lifestyle of food and wellness. I grew tired of going to websites to search for a recipe and everything there either using unsustainable products or dairy or high-fat content or processed ingredients. But on the other hand, you search for "healthy" and it's so far the opposite that it's an extreme, "I only ever eat plant based. I would never touch this or that. I work out two hours a day." Neither of those extremes felt right to me. I wanted to create a site that was balanced. 

When these beauty opportunities and partnerships started happening, I said, "Okay, I have to notice and acknowledge this." I started incorporating beauty into The Moment. That was when I was like, "This is the beauty site that I've always wanted to create," which is a mixture of the right foods and products that are good for our minds and bodies. We're talking about beauty on a deeper level. That's really where beauty comes from. 



So, what does beauty mean to you?

To me, beauty means kindness. I think first of all, being kind to ourselves is something that doesn't get talked about enough, especially as women, as women that are working, women that are in big cities. I walk out my door every morning and I see a Victoria's Secret ad across from me. It's really important to be kind to ourselves and then be kind to others, and I really believe that we are our choices. And that becomes really empowering when you think about it like that. We're not good and we're not bad, we just are our choices. When we make a choice to be kind to ourselves, the people around us, the people we don't know and our home, this planet, that is beauty.


What do you do to practice self-kindness?

I think it depends on the day. I either meditate or journal every morning. For me, I find journaling to be really powerful. It sucks a lot of the negativity out. It's a quick fix. I call it speed therapy. When you write three pages in the morning, you get to some really deep places, really fast. I also use this trick whenever I feel anxious about something, whether it's the way I look or my career, or a certain situation I'm in, I say to myself, "Why are you feeling anxious? It's already happened. And it's great. It's exactly how you want it to be." That kind of just instantly changes the conversation in my head. It ends the questions. There's a quote that says, "Worrying is your mind imagining the worst." To me, imagining is manifesting. If you're worrying, you're manifesting the worst.


Since you've created a site based on beauty redefined, we've got to know you're must-have products. You have the best skin!

Thank you! I'm really into moisture, and I don't think I've ever gone to bed without washing my face. Right now, I'm really obsessed with Susanne Kaufmann. I don't know if you're familiar with her line. It's from Austria. It's really beautiful, and she is super passionate about botanicals. I use her milk cleanser. I use really gentle cleansers just to get off dirt and make up. You don't want to be stripping your face of it's natural oils or anything. Then, I always use a serum. I alternate between Marie Veronique Soothing B3 Serum and Susanne Kaufman Hyaluron Serum. It depends on my mood. And then I always use Everyday Oil all over my body. I use Vintner's Daughter Active Botanical Serum on my face as my last step. We just shot April, the founder, at her winery in Napa, and once I learned about everything that goes into making that product, I was like, "Oh, that's what makes this different." It makes my skin really, really happy. If I still need more moisture I'll layer May Lindstrom's Blue Cocoon on top. My face ends up looking like a grease ball when I'm going to bed (laughs). And most importantly I put all of those on my neck. You've got to do the neck especially with how much we're looking down at our phones and laptops. We have to stretch and massage it. That's night time. Morning, I just rinse my face with warm water and an organic cotton wash cloth from California Baby. About once a week I'll use Sunday Riley Good Genes. That is the key. I saw a huge difference in my skin when I started using that. It's a lactic acid. And for my body I started getting really into bar soaps and love both Saipua and Bastide.


Sunday Riley has the best looking products.

Every product I use has good packaging. I don't want to look into my medicine cabinet and not be excited about it. It makes it such a difference. I'm excited at night to go and play with my products and do my routine. Sunday Riley's Good Genes though is a magical, miracle treatment.


Are all of your products clean?

Yes. Everything is synthetic free. There's different variables in terms of how clean. Like, May Lindstrom is cleaner than Sunday Riley. For the most part, everything I use is from Cap Beauty, Follain, or Credo, all of which have amazing standards so I feel really safe when I buy something from them.


What changes did you notice in your skin when you started switching to clean products, especially since you came from working for a huge, corporate beauty brand? 

For me, my skin is very much a combination of what I eat and what I put on it. In terms of skincare, as I progressively get cleaner and cleaner, I'm probably like 99 percent clean at this point, I may still have a mascara somewhere, but since making the switch, my skin just gets better and happier, more vibrant looking and more alive. Literally, the cleaner I go, the better my skin gets.


It's insane how the majority of us, myself included, still use toxic and chemical filled products on our skin, which is our largest organ. It's not just what you put in your body, but also what you put on it.

It's crazy that we don't think about it. It's actually really ... I'm going to use a strong word here, it's really perverse when you think about an industry that calls itself a beauty industry, filling it's products full of things that are really harmful. It's gross and horrific. So many of my friends are having fertility problems and our health and stress issues are at a whole new crazy level. I think a lot of that has to do with A) our food and what's going into it that we don't know about. It's at a point that we can't even control it, even when we're trying to control it. And B) our beauty products that are being absorbed into our skin from our body wash to our lotion. It's like, "Oh my god, of course our bodies are rebelling."


We tie everything with this idea of legacy and what you want to leave behind, what you want your mark to be, this greater idea for life. Can you tell us what you want your legacy to be? 

I have a really strong, adventurous mom who taught me that I can do anything I set my mind to. She taught me to be fearless and as an ambitious woman, I am really passionate about supporting other women. I think it's really important to me that I hire women, that I foster their careers and support them. As well as women around the world, a lot of the items in our shop are from artisans that are creating these products to support themselves. Women are in the process of making a huge renaissance. I'm really, really excited about it. 


Any advice or tips for other women entrepreneurs or those wanting to be?

I think doing everything with grace is really important. I think that it's really easy as a woman to feel angry, especially as an entrepreneur, you get told, "No," so many times. You're not taken seriously. You have to work twice as hard as your male counterpart, if not three, four, five times as hard. It's hard not to get angry about that. I think the successful women that I really admire are the one's that are kind, have a sense of humor and are going through the whole process with total grace.


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