Smooth + Confidence Series: Courtney

To Be Careful + Carefree:
Courtney N. Phillips

 All photos taken by  Liza Boone ; hair + makeup by  Carol Woods

All photos taken by Liza Boone; hair + makeup by Carol Woods

The Smooth + Confidence series is our platform to highlight the skin, voices + stories of black women, from the Chicago, Illinois, to Accra, Ghana, through interviews + photography. It's important for our words and narratives to be captured with our pictures, for us, by us.

I met Courtney for the first time back in March around Abena's birthday + Hanahana Beauty's anniversary. Courtney is a literal shining example of black girl magic: She co-founded the black-experience focused platform ROYAL Media with her partner, is a model + signed with Ford Models + glows like nobody’s business. Courtney + Abena met through Black Girl in Om, set up a taco date that they actually followed through on, and ended up having a four-hour hangout + cooking session. After that she became one of Abena's closest Chicago confidantes + she's also one of Hanahana's biggest supporters. Enjoy this chat with one of the original #HanahanaTribe + make sure you follow her at @courtneynphillips!

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Adwoa SeiwaaHi Courtney! We’re looking forward to our Conversations with you + the ladies on Sunday. To get us started, tell us about yourself: Whether it's what you do, your passions, your drives, your faves, your feats—who are you?

Well, I'm an entrepreneur and model. I’m currently signed to Ford Models here in Chicago, been here for about three years. Me and my partner co-founded ROYAL Media about two years ago, formally, but we've been active for just over a year. We founded ROYAL to curate content + experiences to expand the narrative of black life. Using diverse modes of media—our web journal, photography, videography, talks, events, projects, and partnerships, etc.—to reach the community and provide a platform for those who want to tell their stories their way. It's my passion. We're actually rebranding in September, so look out for that. I'm really excited, to say the least—wish I could tell you more, haha.

Adwoa Seiwaa: Ooh, intrigue! I’ll def keep an eye out for that in a couple months. Your site + everything look so good already, but I do love a rebranding—so exciting + refreshing! And going off that, will you tell us how you start your day? What rituals + routines do you do to get ready?

Courtney: Most days I wake up around 6-6:30am, then go for a run and sit by the water. When I get home I stretch + do some yoga and then have breakfast—a good potato hash or oats with a smoothie. I work from home if I'm not on location for modeling, and I often come in and out for meetings or I go and sit at a coffee shop for a change in scenery. I like a calm workspace, so working from home is really fitting. Eventually, ROYAL Media will have an office, and I plan to bring a homey vibe to whatever space we decide on.

Adwoa Seiwaa: That sounds lovely, especially sitting by the water, the hash + that future home office. So as a black woman + creative entrepreneur, do you connect with the idea that you can be carefree + careful at the same time? How do you embody the notion of being a carefree black woman in your everyday life?

Courtney: I definitely connect with the idea of being carefree + careful. As a black woman, entrepreneur and model, it's important to that I don’t take in what people project onto me as far as expectations or stereotypes go. I have to look out for my own best interests + comforts first, and in a lot of instances, that meant letting go of relationships that weren't healthy for me or walking away from jobs or opportunities that made me uncomfortable. I know now that not everyone is going to listen or care about my well-being, and so being intentional about working with other women of color is very important to me.

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Adwoa Seiwaa: Snaps to all of that, yes. You have to do those things, because no one else is going to do them for you, and the same goes for taking care of yourself. What self-care and self-love practices do you currently engage in that relate directly to being carefree/careful or make you feel smooth + confident?

Courtney: Working out is really important to me. I recently finished a 30-day challenge of running every day to get into the habit of doing more often. It clears my mind and gives me that kick of endorphins, which helps me keep a level head if I run into an uncomfortable situation, and, in general, starting the day with the accomplishment of having gone on a run keeps my confidence high. Also, I'll be moving at the end of the month and one of the bathrooms has a clawfoot tub so I'm excited to start doing herbal baths surrounded by candles, plants and all that, haha.

Adwoa SeiwaaWow, that’s literally been one of my childhood dreams ever since I found out clawfoot tubs were a thing; If you move again, please take it with you. I’m not sure if it’s is a dream or a low-key nightmare yet, but I’m very, very slowly getting into running—I need should take on a similar challenge + rebrand myself as a runner. So as you know, "Smooth + Confident" became a tagline for Hanahana Beauty over a phone call with Abena had with her friend Kenya and has now become her everyday mantra. What does the phrase “smooth + confident” mean to you?

Courtney: To me, being smooth + confident means being comfortable in your skin, who you are at your core. Knowing your worth and moving through life with an effortless ease, not because everything is perfect all the time, but because through it all you know your grounded confidence and trust in God / the Universe will carry you through. 

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This year I'd like to do more early morning runs, add new habits of self-care, and create growth for ROYAL Media. Since we’re rebranding in September, I'm excited to see where this new energy takes us. And I'd like to see less self-doubt. I don’t doubt myself often, but every now and then I get in my own head and in my own way, which is where my self-care comes inhelping me maintain healthy work habits + confidence.

Adwoa Seiwaa: That’s a perfect roundup. What’s your mantra or personal golden rule? Do you have a quote, a lyric, a philosophy, or any words that you live by or want to incorporate in your life?

Courtney: Treat people with kindness, especially when you think they don’t deserve it. I definitely slip up sometimes, but I'm working on it. Truthfully, at the end of the day, the anger or attitude I may exude toward someone affects me more than them and I'd rather spend my time + energy on things + people I care about. The current mantras I come back to are "be thankful always" and "I receive love, understanding and abundance, and release criticism of myself and others."

Adwoa Seiwaa: Treat people with kindnessthe original golden rule—is my number one as well, and remembering to be thankful is my runner-up; I’m gonna steal your second mantra. Speaking of abundance + release, what’s one thing you want more of in 2018 and one thing you want less of in terms of personal growth.

Courtney: This year I'd like to do more early morning runs, add new habits of self-care, and create growth for ROYAL Media. Since we’re rebranding in September, I'm excited to see where this new energy takes us. And I'd like to see less self-doubt. I don’t doubt myself often, but every now and then I get in my own head and in my own way, which is where my self-care ccomehelping me maintain healthy work habits + confidence.

Adwoa Seiwaa: I feel all of that, very much, from the beginner’s end. Okay, so last, but not least, what's your favorite Hanahana Beauty product?

Courtney: Every product is a must, but right now I'll say my favorite Hanahana Beauty product is the exfoliating bar. It's the perfect shower product and really has your skin feeling smooth + moisturized all day long. I can't go without it in the winter.

Thank you for being our actual, radiant role model, Courtney! We wish you best of luck with the rebranding + can’t wait to chat with you this Sunday, see you soon!


Stay Smooth + Confident

- Abena Boamah