Meet Leslie Barboza Leslie Barboza is a senior brand manager at American International Industries who…
Known by her fans as Soothing Sista, Stephanie Villa has grown her audience on YouTube and Instagram by sharing her unique sense of style and beauty. In her rise to fame, she’s always stayed true to herself and her values, and outwardly shares an inspiring message to women everywhere that encourages them to be confident in the skin they are in. Learn how Stephanie first got involved in making YouTube videos, the challenges of being mixed-race in the beauty industry and more about her personal style.
- My name is: Stephanie Villa
- My social handles are: @soothingsista
- Find my website at: youtube.com/soothingsista
1. Tell us a little about yourself. How did you first get your start in the beauty world?
I first started watching YouTube videos in college because I wanted to research products before purchasing them. I gradually began following certain people not just because of their product reviews, but also because I liked their personalities. While in grad school, I decided to give YouTube a go for myself! I was studying Chinese Medicine and working as a personal assistant, so my schedule was already very intense. YouTube was just a creative outlet for me at first, but then work started to pick up. I began getting travel opportunities and sponsorships with deadlines and I had to make a decision to go one path or the other. So, I decided to take a leap and try to do YouTube full-time — and here we are now!
2. What inspired you to create your YouTube Channel Soothing Sista?
Honestly, I just really love talking about products and from watching other YouTubers and I thought that I might be able to contribute a little something to the space. Or, if anything, to just be more active in the awesome community that is YouTube. I learned everything that I know about makeup and skincare from YouTube. I was never inherently talented in doing makeup and I don’t consider myself an artist at all — just a person passionate about makeup and skincare! I would say my favorite videos to film and edit are now beyond beauty but I will always enjoy sitting down and filming a good ole GRWM!
3. How did being the child of a full-Chinese mother and half-Chinese, half-Spanish father influence your idea of beauty norms growing up? What are the challenges and opportunities of being of mixed-race in the beauty industry?
Actually, I just did a 23andMe and my dad is from the UK? We think? The results keep changing on us! To be honest, I grew in a Chinese-American household. As a first generation Chinese woman, I hardly saw anyone in traditional media who looked like me — I think most POC can relate to this. I was confused about what was considered beautiful but at the same time, I was always very proud of my culture and saw my mom as the most beautiful woman ever (she literally never wears makeup, by the way). I knew many of my features weren’t considered conventionally beautiful but at the same time I was proud of them.
Currently so much is changing in the beauty space. YouTube has created a place for anyone to put themselves out there to be viewed by the world. We are no longer limited to what is shown on TV or magazines. I get so emotional when I meet subscribers in real life and they tell me that they feel like I’m the sister they never had, because I understand that struggle to relate to people in media. I feel so fortunate that I have the opportunity to reach that person who needs community.
It really is an interesting time to be a WOC in beauty right now. Racism is being addressed openly and, obviously, if a company doesn’t want to work with me because of my ethnicity, I definitely do not want to work with them. Racism is something Asian people deal with on the daily and of course, I am aware that there are POC who have to deal with far more than I do. I feel like this is truly being addressed in the beauty community right now by pioneers like Jackie Aina. The conversation need to be loud and ongoing — and YouTube is a platform for these conversations to be had for anyone to take part in.
4. How would you describe your personal style?
Like a 9th grade skater kid… who got a bit of cash. I live in a t-shirt, a pair of Dickies, and my Dr. Martens or Vans. I like sites like Grailed or Heroine with more streetwear stuff and I mostly buy from the men’s section. I wouldn’t say I am super savvy with current fashion at all, but recently I’ve been getting into some Japanese brands. Wacko Maria is my jam.
5. You’ve been involved in many projects such as Refinery 29’s Naked Truth video. Why is it important for you to be a part of initiatives that inspire girls to be confident in their own skin?
I was a weird kid who didn’t look, dress, or listen to the same music as the people around me. I felt lost all the time but luckily, I had my big cousin Nicky. He always told me to be myself and if anyone had any problems with me, that was their issue, not mine. I just want to be able to give even a sliver of the confidence he instilled in me, to others out there.
It’s cool to be different. If someone is making fun of you because of how you look or your interests — you’re doing it right. You’ll see.
6. What is your favorite social media platform and why?
YouTube would definitely be my number one. It’s a place I can sit, talk and be real with people. Don’t get me wrong, I am very much myself on Instagram too. I do not have a curated Instagram at all (see my post on October 1) but the YouTube community is something no other platform can match.
7. Okay, we have to ask — what’s in your makeup bag?
I have been loving the new Hourglass Ambient Lighting Edit in Unlocked. I’ve been traveling a ton and it is a palette I use for contour/bronzing, blush, highlight and eyeshadow. The Pat McGrath Mothership V Palette has some of the most unique eyeshadows I have used in a long time with an unparalleled quality. When in doubt, I’ll throw on my NARS Powermatte Lip Pigment in Don’t Stop, a velvety matte blue red color.
This interview has been edited and condensed.
Interested in learning more from professionals in the digital marketing and beauty industries? Check out the rest of our As Told By series.