On the Map: Sable Massingill
At Beauty Atlas, it is our mission to explore the concept of beauty through an anthropological lens. To uncover global products and ingredients that are used for beauty purposes, and to share the cultural experiences that influence a person’s beauty ideals. When we come across women whose vision aligns with this ethos, we consider it our duty to share their stories.
Through Beautyscapes, a website dedicated to sharing beauty products sourced from around the world, Sable Massingill has introduced her readers and consumers to facial oils from southwest Africa to serums from Finland. Today, Massingill is vying for the opportunity to bring an ingredient passed down for generations in her family to the masses through a campaign with online beauty incubator, Volition. Learn more about Massingill’s hopeful product, her travels, and the inspiration behind her site, here.
What inspired you to launch Beautyscapes?
Along the way I’ve opened many “businesses,” especially in my childhood. I’ve always been a creative entrepreneur acting on new ideas. This led me to study public relations and business in college. I knew I wanted something that could combine writing, connecting people, and being involved in a lot of different areas. There is so much I’m interested in culturally, and Beautyscapes is my extension of that. It’s something that’s been building inside of me for so long that it had to come to life!
On your site, you say that we are “influenced by where we're from, where we've been and where we want to go.” Where are you from and how has that influenced you?
I’m from LaFayette, Georgia, a very small town. It has been a huge influence on who I am today. Growing up, both sets of my grandparents also lived in the same town, and I learned so much from them (still do, thankfully) from gardening and fishing to much bigger influences like being mindful of the Earth’s resources, preserving traditions, and the very important art of storytelling.
Surrounded by wide open fields, I had a lot of space to roam and ride my horses. The connection to family and the Earth that my hometown fostered is something I attribute to being able to more easily understand the importance of family relationships, traditions, and how that influences beauty among other things in other cultures.
Where have your travels taken you recently and how has the location left a lasting impression on you?
Recently, I explored Guatemala and Finland — complete opposites, but both are so gorgeous. In Guatemala, I was forever changed by the strength of the women. They carry so much tradition and talent and love for their families within them. Being able to weave and create with some of the indigenous women there was such a privilege. Next up, Mexico, Costa Rica, Morocco, and anywhere else I can manage!
How often do you travel and what are some of your favorite travel destinations?
As much as possible! I’ve actually dubbed 2018 my “free-range” year. I want to travel more than ever while working remotely this year.
My favorite travel destination is any place that feels inviting, like somewhere you could live, while also offering new adventures and places to explore. It may sound cliché considering I used to live there, but New York City will always be one of my favorite destinations for that reason. It’s like a revolving door, opening and closing. It’s inviting but at the same time, people are always in and out, which is a constant.
Tell us all about your Volition campaign.
Straight from the Stem [$42, volition.com to vote] is an aloe vera-based spot treatment and serum I co-created with Volition Beauty and one of my dreams come true! Volition is a San-Francisco-based company that is essentially, crowd-sourcing beauty and works as an incubator for real women with product ideas. They currently sell their products on their website, on QVC, and in select Sephora stores.
I submitted my aloe idea and it was chosen! We discussed my concerns, ingredients I wanted and didn’t want to be used in the product, packaging and everything else you could imagine! It was so empowering to have a supportive team with established relationships with labs, chemists, and vendors see my vision. After the product is formulated, Volition posts the campaign on their website and if the product receives 2,000 votes, it is produced!
So often, aloe is completely diluted in other skin care products. I knew I had to bring the natural consistency and benefits of aloe vera to the masses. The first time I tried the Straight from the Stem serum sample from the lab I almost cried! It’s an amazing texture and product that really holds in moisture while also purifying. Aloe is one of the oldest and most vastly used plants, I am thrilled to honor its history and benefits with this product.
What are some ways your family has used aloe vera?
Once, my dad badly burned his finger and his first response was looking over to me, wincing in pain, and saying, “Sable! Go up to your Nanny’s and get an aloe leaf!” My grandfather would also create tinctures and many herbal medicines using aloe.
Do you hope to create a full skincare line someday?
As long as it helps to contribute to the well-being of all involved and a more circular economy. I never like to say no, and would absolutely love it if a relationship develops with other women around the world that could produce a full skin care line. To me, a product isn’t truly beautiful or necessary unless every step of making it is also beautiful and thoughtful.
What are some ingredients that you’ve encountered throughout your travels that you’ve been particularly excited to learn about?
Seaberry (sea buckthorn)! In Finland, I discovered a lot of arctic berry treasures. The Finnish are so conscious of how they treat their land. The berries are abundant and full of antioxidants that really protect skin. The Lapland region of Finland is harsh, especially in the winter, but is such a clean area to harvest from. On the trees, there are Chaga mushrooms that are very nourishing, hydrating, and amazing for internal and external use. Sustainable and hand-picked Chaga mushrooms are of the main ingredients in the Supermood products I sourced in Finland and currently offer on the Beautyscapes Bazaar.
What have you learned from the women that you’ve encountered along your travels?
The power of a smile and a laugh and the ways we can communicate without any words. We are all connected in so many ways, and I feel very fortunate to be able to freely travel from country to country to experience this firsthand. I know this is not the case for many. To me, this connection is the most beautiful part of life.
In college, I studied in Paris for a summer and stayed with a single woman. She had a modest job and was not excessive in any way. However, in her bathroom I was overjoyed to find a huge soaking tub with a window overhead that opened up to overlook the building courtyard, with shelves full of different skincare and beauty products. It was Chanel eyeliner heaven! She spoke little English and I was a very beginning French student, so we had many language barriers that summer but nothing we couldn’t figure out through our own sign-language and our appreciation for that bathroom! Few places in my opinion are as personal as a woman’s bathroom and the fact that she opened hers so freely up to me is something I will always cherish and it was truly a medium through which we connected.
What do you hope for Beautyscapes readers and consumers to gain from your content and products?
Our relationship with ourselves effects our relationships with others. I hope through my content and products women feel confidence within themselves, their decisions and the ability to make informed purchases. They no longer purchase beauty products out of fear or feeling inadequate because of the big marketing messages that often want women to believe they are not good enough.
Beautyscapes isn’t about our differences, although we have them and celebrate them, it’s more about what we share. It’s very human to share, “I put this on my skin, you put this on your skin, this plant is from where I’m from.” It’s about building a relationship off of what we exchange not necessarily what was “said.” This sharing between body to body, eye to eye, nose to nose with aromatherapy even, is such a connective channel that is amazing to explore.