Samantha Smith Knows Beauty And Healing Go Hand In Hand
The Los Angeles-based holistic esthetician spoke to NYLON about the loss of her brother Nipsey Hussle, healing, and investing in her community.
As Queen Afua once said, “There is a cosmic conversation going on within you, but you have to be quiet to hear this sweet language of the unspoken.” Samantha Smith is a living testament to this. Sister to the late Ermias Asghedom (professionally known as Nipsey Hussle), she has mastered the art of listening to her own spirituality and using her voice as a means to heal others, working daily to push the wellness world beyond the surface level.
As an LA-based holistic esthetician, she works to incorporate spiritual healing into her treatments and her forthcoming skin care product line. As a healer, she has been hard at work constructing a soon-to-launch wellness center, envisioning it to be a safe space for conversations that work to repair the soul, mend past hurt, revitalize energies, and connect like-minded individuals who find themselves on a similar spiritual journey.
Growing up in South Central Los Angeles, Smith first gained an interest in healing as a means to circumvent becoming a product of the trauma she was enduring and observing in her surrounding environment. Those lessons have been the foundation for her journey, one that promotes the intersections of health and wellness, prioritizes mentorship and community for marginalized youth, and understands the importance of passing those lessons down to young people of color in the form of opportunity and education.
Ahead, NYLON caught up with Smith to talk about these guiding spiritual principles, her holistic approach to skin care, and her advice to young people considering entrepreneurship.
Everyone’s journey into the holistic field is different. What initially led you down this path?
I’ve always been immersed into the holistic field. My mom’s been big on wellness and us healing ourselves, tapping into our inner self, understanding and listening to our bodies, and being guided by the spirit. After I had my baby, I was working at The Marathon Store and helping [Nipsey] a lot at the store. I was living with him during that time and something just told me, “Look, this is good, but you can help your brothers in a deeper way by bringing something to the table that they might not be familiar with." It was a deeper intuitive voice. "Look, you need to go to school and get your [esthetics] license." And that’s when I decided to let that voice guide me, I got my license.
But losing my brother, Nipsey, was the sparking moment. Seven days before everything that had happened with Nip, I was on a spiritual retreat with Queen Afua. We were getting in touch with our wombs. She was having us speak whatever our wombs were telling us — not speaking from our minds, but speaking from the spirit. What came out of my mouth was, "I’m going to be the healer for my family." After that came out, she said, “That’s your calling.” So when Nipsey passed a week later, it put everything into perspective. This is why I had a deeper drive to heal people, and to understand the full spectrum of it. Not just to heal them externally, but to heal things internally, too. That was the spark.
I think most healers experience the “spark” that pushes them to pursue what they want to do, but did you feel called to this work at all when you were younger?
Yes, at an incredibly young age, I gained a deep understanding of myself. That I'm a warrior who heals others. I think I tapped into this when I experienced certain traumatic things at a noticeably young age. Being in foster care, the trauma of group homes, being surrounded by adults that were trying to manipulate me — it forced me to dig deeper into understanding myself and find my voice early. I learned to be unwavering through all the ups and downs life throws at you. To stand here and stand tall.
It’s always important to have that guiding set of principles and a deep understanding of self in everything we do. What would your own personal manifesto be?
Having integrity with what I do, meaning being the same person, doing the same thing when nobody's looking. I think that's a big thing, especially with my field. You don't want to have a person thinking that they're getting something and it's not what they're really getting. So, integrity for sure. Being transparent, not withholding game, not being a hater. For real, 100 percent.
On the business side of things, what do you want your skin healing business to represent?
I want people to just be comfortable with who they are and how they look and be in their highest level of self. That will, in turn, make them feel beautiful. You must heal the internal because anything that you build on top of it is going to crumble. I help, support, and guide my clients into healing both the internal and the external. That’s the core of it.
That full-spectrum approach is definitely a missing gap within the beauty and wellness world. Can you walk us through some of the internal and external services you provide?
Our services are all natural and customized to address the root cause of skin issues. We analyze the client’s skin and lifestyle, so, in addition to in-office treatments, I advise food regimens, probiotics, vitamins, and the correct amount of water intake. I take the time to teach my clients so they can take this knowledge home with them to help them on their journey. What are you eating? How are you sleeping? What is your home life like?
We offer a variety of skin services for every type of concern. Some of our most popular treatments are GLO Ritual, which tones facial muscles, balances energy, and boosts the immune system; Baby Skin, which targets delicate teen/preteen skin experiencing acne; and High Frequency, which delivers oscillating oxygenating power to increase blood circulation and hydration levels and even provides hair follicle stimulation for thinning hair.
You also incorporate healing into much of your skin care work, which I think is very important.
Yes, I do energy work within my facials. I use different pressure points and different massage techniques within the face that help to balance certain energies within people, and I transfer certain ones within me to people by meditating over them. I also use crystals. I try to incorporate all the energy balancing modalities into my work.
Can you share a bit on your new, upcoming product line?
It's going to be representative of what I'm doing within my spa and my treatments, an external approach and internal approach, because they go hand in hand. All the ingredients are hand-picked and selected by me. When people come get treatments, they can get skin products too, because it’s not just about coming to see your esthetician once a month, it's about what you are doing at home to upkeep.
Do you have any advice for young entrepreneurs who may be reading this and are looking to follow a similar path, but not sure where to start?
You have to make sure that you really want it. You have to know that it’s not all about the money, because money is secondary. There are ups and downs. But when you’re really tapped into it and you’re doing purposeful work, everything ends up working out. Even though it might look like it’s not, even though you might lose that apartment or be in your car for a couple of weeks, if you have an unyielding strength within yourself, you’re going to get to the light at the end of the tunnel.
But entrepreneurship is not for everybody. That’s why you’ve got to be honest with yourself and know that when you’re an entrepreneur, you do everybody’s job. You can’t rely on anybody. You have to be a leader. You got to have vision. You can’t be living anybody else’s life because it’s not going to work. I think tapping into the spirit and really having an understanding of yourself needs to take place before you even try to hop into the entrepreneurship field. Once you do that, you’ll be able to get with the highs and lows and not be discouraged. You got to keep going.
I’m glad you mentioned that, because the highs and lows of entrepreneurship are real. What advice would you give to those reading who might be going through a low point right now?
We all have our dark moments, but life is about balance. Nobody is able to escape life without pain, period. But every day is a reset. No matter what, you’ve got to keep going. It’s just the physical that’s in pain, but the spirit’s strong. That’s how I look at it. One day, you might fight a little problem and then the next, a real big one. You just got to believe in yourself enough that no matter what’s going on, it’s not going to defeat you.
In the world of skin care and beauty, we often see companies, both small and large, apply Eurocentric beauty standards in an attempt to erase blackness, visibility, and opportunity for our communities. Do you see that played out in the wellness field as well?
If we trace it back to our roots, we [as Black people] were a predominant force in the skin care industry and in the beauty industry way before all this. We've been stripped of that and different cultures have pulled things that we've done as a Black culture and try to claim it as a European thing. So, [what] I'm doing is tracing back to my roots and doing what my ancestors were doing.
We are underrepresented. That’s one of the main reasons why I feel so passionate about skin care as a Black esthetician. That’s not to say that I just want to do Black skin, I want to work on everybody. But I want somebody who has skin like me to be able to walk in and know that they’re going to be served and treated, and [that] their skin’s going to be understood because [I’m] coming [with] a personal understanding.
In addition to your forthcoming skin care line, what else is in the works for you?
I’m working on a wellness center where people can come to get educated and have a safe space to heal, unwind, talk, meet, and be around individuals who think and search for similar things as them, and have access to educational courses. I've also been writing a lot and just to release and to get messages out there that are productive and not counterproductive, because I feel like we're hearing a lot of things that aren't forward-moving. So we want to work to reverse that.
I think mentorship is very important. My partner and I, DJ OSH KOSH, are re-launching our non-profit, Dreamers Youth, to include regular workshops that empower youth in marginalized communities to expand their minds and find what drives them creatively through mentorship and arts education. I feel we need more alternative ways of opening children up to the possibilities of what lies outside of a traditional curriculum. Even if we look back in history, a lack of resources is what causes major conflict.
If we start with the kids and we can expose them to different things, they take that with them growing up. It opens [them] up to understand that, "Oh, I can actually establish myself in the world. I can use my talent and I can use my creativity and I can use my education in arts and make a name for myself."
Photographer: Patrick Chen
Stylist: Aenon Bowie, Ashley Dalton, Victoria Cocieru, Talia Smith, Ty Neely
Wardrobe: 9th&GRAND and Kheops
Makeup Artist: Ashley Dalton
Creative Director/Set Design: Talia Smith
BTS Videography: Ann Clarke
Special Thanks To: Samantha Smith, Ann Clarke, Aenon Bowie, Raylene Castillote, Asha Holland