Courtney Stewart has a life mission to help others speak their truth. She’s done it in her own life, throughout her career, and with LipRevolt, the cosmetics company she recently launched in Atlanta.
Stewart graduated from Spelman College in 2013 with a degree in political science. Three years later, she received her master’s degree in terrorism and homeland security from American University. She worked in Washington, D.C. before moving to Atlanta in 2018.
Her early life journey was filled with challenges. Stewart’s biological mother suffered with substance abuse issues, so she was adopted at an early age, but it wasn’t a safe place. At age 11, she spoke up to stop the physical and sexual abuse she was suffering at the hands of her adoptive mother and her boyfriend.
Speaking her truth led to their conviction. In 2005, at the age of 13, Stewart was placed in a home with a good family that continues to love and nurtures her. She says that it was during this time that she began to experiment with makeup and discovered how it made her more confident.
She returned to that love of makeup last year with the launch of LipRevolt, a line of bold lipsticks she calls “war paint.” The Resistance Collection includes colors with names like “Heroine,” “Change Agent,” “Liberate” and “Trailblaze.” Despite the pandemic, LipRevolt has made a splash in the beauty world with its mission to donate profits back to nonprofits that empower women, the LGBTQ+ community and more. We spoke with her to find out what drives and inspires her – and to find out what’s on her Spotify playlist at the link below.
Q. You’ve been able to overcome and achieve despite many challenges you faced early in life. Is there some experience or relationship that helped you stay strong?
A. It was not one relationship; it was many relationships. I believe “it takes a village” and a strong support system. My fathers, both adoptive and foster, were positive influences. My adoptive father was not involved in the abuse. I share a lot of traits with him, like his love of music. And my family assisted a lot with my healing. My foster family, as a whole has been so supportive, and they’ve always been there for me…they still are! I’d also like to call out my alma mater – Spelman College. It played a huge role in allowing me to grow and become the woman I wanted to be. At Spelman, I was surrounded by so many intelligent, hard-working black women, and it showed me possibilities I didn’t know I had. I was the first in my immediate families – biological, adoptive and foster – to attend college and get a master’s degree. As I see it, everyone in my life right now, especially my fiancé and his family, has helped me get where I am.
Q. How were you able to finance your business?
A. SoFi has been a huge help in getting my finances together. Before I could get the capital together to start my business, I needed to refinance my student loan. I had a variable rate loan through Sally Mae that had ballooned; I was tripling my payments and still not touching the principal. After being able to refinance the loan through SoFi, I paid it off early, which enabled me to put more money toward my business.
Q. Who are some of the people who inspire you to continue moving upward?
A. Strong, successful women like Madame C.J. Walker, Audre Lorde and Angela Davis and their journeys inspired me on my own journey. I would say the people who are going through some of the experiences that I went through as a child or young women who are doubting themselves and trying to figure out their next step. I keep moving because I want to show them to see that it is possible.
Q. What message would you like to share with young people who are looking to make their voices heard?
A. Be patient with yourself. Learn who you are and what you stand for. Find your voice. Often, we think our voices are not important or do not need to be heard. But what you have to say is valuable, and it’s important to say what you need to say. And if you keep moving, you can reach your dreams. Your situation and your past isn’t a reflection of your future. You can be what you want to be – what you need to be.
Q. How does LipRevolt help others express themselves?
A. There is so much creativity in makeup, with so many choices and colors, that you can become anyone or anything you want to be. While styles, fashions and makeup trends change, everyone can find their own style. Even if it’s not with makeup, I encourage everyone to find what speaks to their soul. Find what you love and who you are – and, of course, support LipRevolt! I also encourage everyone, even if they’re not into makeup, to look at our website, liprevolt.com. LipRevolt is about supporting local organizations and doing good in the community. We support different non-profits that support civil rights, women’s rights and LGBTQ rights every month by donating 10% of our sales to them. Please consider supporting them through us or directly.