1. Introduce yourself: your name and where you live.
Denise Vasi, I live in Venice Beach, but I grew up in Brooklyn, New York.
2. Your house looks incredible, did you and your husband build it together?
We did, it took 3 years from the ground up. It is our first child and was built with a lot of love, sweat and tears! My husband studied architecture for a year and is obsessed with it, and I grew up antiquing with my grandmother, so when we started to build our own home, I rediscovered my appreciation for antiques and furniture.
3. Before becoming a mother, you were a model and actress. Do you miss any part of that life?
I miss my hair and makeup team every morning! I miss playing other characters; when you’re playing another character, you are able to embody all the bad but, all the good things about someone, and that’s fun.
4. Maed is such a beautiful curation of all things lifestyle, from food to beauty to babies, can you tell us a bit about how it started and grew into what it is today?
Early on, my social media platforms really gave me the opportunity to share myself versus playing someone else in a role, which I had been doing my whole life, as an actress and model. When I left my last television show, Single Ladies, I was pregnant, and I started using social media differently. I continued to story tell, but this time, I was creating my own narrative. My social media platforms allowed me to share my own opinion on important things with my television fans.
As time went on, my community shifted. Women started coming to me asking questions: how do you make almond milk? what’s your favorite red lipstick? why do you like clean beauty products? etc. Women were looking to me to educate them on very specific things and then they started to ask for a place where all this information and content could live permanently. I spent a year and half understanding the digital space, and in 2018, Maed was born!
I love what I do now, and while I miss things about acting, Maed has enabled me to amplify my voice. I’m a very opinionated person!! It [Maed] has allowed me to share what I know and to help advocate for change, whether it’s shifting the pre-conception of how women take on motherhood, what they’re feeding their children, what beauty products they use, or showing up for movements like Black Lives Matter.
5. How do you prioritize self-care?
It’s harder now than ever, but I’m a really big fan of scheduling ‘me’ time. The same way we would schedule a call, I schedule a meeting with myself. A couple of my must haves are my mani/pedi, my bedtime beauty routine, and meditation.
6. What’s your favorite workout?
7. What diet do you follow? And what about your kids?
I’m technically Ovo vegetarian as well as vegan, as I occasionally eat eggs. But I’m a firm believer in 80:20, so when I’m in Europe, I do eat cheese! It’s completely different to the stuff we have here! My kids have never had meat or dairy and they are gluten-free. I, on the other hand don’t have the will power to be 100% gluten free!
8. What values do you look for in brands that you collaborate with?
I look at the brand and consider what the ingredients are, what the accessibility is and what the cost is. It has always been about giving my Maed community options. I have to either already use the product or if it’s a new product, love it so much that I’m going to be adding it to my life. If it’s specifically a new beauty product, I use it for at least 3 weeks (sometimes more) to make sure it works for my skin and that I can speak to the benefits.
9. What category on Maed would you say receives the most engagement from your audience?
Beauty for sure. Then I’d say Wellness, then Motherhood.
10. What advice would you give to female entrepreneurs with similar aspirations?
Be kind to yourself. Understand that things don’t happen overnight. If you really want to do something, you have to give it time and dedication. And look at “no’s” as ways to grow. I’ll never forget my first big meeting pitching Maed, and I talked about creating this place of wellness and beauty that was diverse and inclusive. I wanted Maed to speak to all women, but I especially wanted Maed to speak to women who looked like me. Brown and Black women. And the White man who owned the company I was pitching to, said ‘those type of women don’t spend money’. It’s something I’ll never forget, I almost broke down in the meeting. I came back home feeling broken, as it was the first time I had ever presented my idea and what I had been working on in my mind for so long. I turned that ‘no’ around. I used my own money and did it on my own. That ended up being the best decision I could have ever made because today, I own my business 100%.
11. What’s next for you and your business?
It’s so hard to say right now, considering we are in the middle of a pandemic. Every single day things are changing! We’re getting closer to my big picture goal, but 2020 was originally about growing my team and now here I am in my office by myself! Ha! Ha!
12. Anymore babies?
I am done, done, done!! I look at it like this- I have two healthy, beautiful, smart children; one boy and one girl. One that looks like mum, one that looks like dad. I have been so blessed and I couldn’t ask for more. Let’s not go tipping the scales!