INTERVIEW: PAIGE BILLIOT
For our readers who don’t know, give us a little rundown of what you do. Flawless Affect is a campaign aimed at redefining beauty, and changing society’s interpretations of what a flaw is. A movement that not only says that different is the new normal, but proves it.
Could you tell us what it was like growing up with a visible Port-Wine stain? Were different periods better/worse than others?
Growing up with a Port-Wine stain was difficult. I didn’t feel like I had a place in the public with the beauty standards that were forced onto society. I had the most trouble when I was very young. At such a vulnerable age I became accustomed to the bullying, staring, and pointing; which forced me to believe that being different was unacceptable. I started pushing those negative stigma boundaries around 9 years old out of per exhaustion of disliking who I was, and slowly accepted myself as beautifully unique.
Now you have such a positive outlook. At what point did you start embracing your unique feature?
I moved around a lot my whole life, and that took a big toll on me having to explain myself and what my birthmark was at new schools and people. I became so frustrated with the routine of literally trying to hide my birthmark to everyone, including myself. On the first day at a new school I just went to the front of the class and introduced myself and my birthmark. There was a big change on how people received me due to just announcing it and not hiding it. That’s when I noticed that a lot of those harsh reactions came from a place of fearing the unknown. Everything changed then, and I pursued a more positive path of embracing myself.
What has been your experience working in the film industry with your birthmark? A positive experience? Negative? How so?
My experience so far has been good. Some people are taken aback by it and aren’t afraid to show that, but I don’t bring attention to it because it’s a part of me. I embrace and enhance my Port-Wine stain, and so that’s the energy that most people take away from it.
How did you get the idea for the Flawless Affect?
I always wanted to inspire others and give a creative outlet to those that struggled with being different. I wanted to use my birthmark and my career choice as an actress to show that anything is possible with the right mindset. With my experience, I decided to create this outlet through photography and videography highlighting “flaws” in a way that has never been done before to push a movement beyond the beauty standards that we all struggle with by embracing what makes us different. I wanted people to look at these photos and be inspired to love themselves, to know there was a community that they belonged to, and to ultimately redefine beauty.
Once you decided to move forward with the organization, what was the first action step you took?
I started by organizing all my wants and needs. First, I started creating content. I planned my first photoshoot which I called “War Paint”. I asked the photographer how my birthmark inspired him, and he saw it as a constant war paint that I wear everyday. Each artist is involved in each theme as part of the creative process. I created a list of photo/video concepts, organizations/foundations that I want to collaborate with, and other businesses/people that I wanted for vertical partnerships. I accumulated a small team and now we are checking off that list one by one.
In just a short time, the Flawless Affect brand has spread quite quickly with features in notable media outlets like Cosmopolitan, The Huffington Post, FOX News, and CBS. Can you tell us a little about how you/your team managed to create such an effective marketing campaign for your cause?
As I was producing more content on Instagram I had a reporter from a press agency interview me about Flawless Affect. When she posted the press release multiple media outlets picked up the story. More and more shared the press release while others contacted me for a private interview, including TV outlets.
Can you think back to a particular unexpected setback or mental block you had to overcome when starting out? What did you learn from it?
I had a lot of mental blocks in the beginning; mainly, trying to figure out how to execute my idea, and how to get a business started in general. I still have mental blocks on certain concepts for shoots, or how to successfully achieve more long term goals of doing bigger and better things. Because I am still learning, that has set me back a bit; but I’ve learned to be more patient with myself. This is all a process and even though I like to make deadlines I also don’t want to rush such an important expedition.
You seem so comfortable with fully embracing your true self. What advice do you have for others who may feel limited due to their “flaws”?
You must have the mentality that a flaw is flawless. Being different is what makes you beautifully unique. These beauty norms that we have been accustomed to are simply standards. Beauty is how you perceive it and others will receive it that way too. You must accept, understand, and embrace yourself. We no longer need to conform to society, society will conform to the individual. It’s just all in the power of the mind, raising awareness, and making a difference with YOUR difference!
Could you touch on the emotional journey that is starting and leading your own movement?
This journey has definitely been an emotional one- for me, the people involved, and the audience. To create a movement that is inspired by my difference and see how beautifully it’s coming to life is so amazing. It’s such a vulnerable exploration which arose so many emotions. It’s not easy by any means. The amount of time and energy that is put into Flawless Affect is sometimes overwhelming. It’s never ending, and a lot of it I’m still learning how to do which can get frustrating; but the art that Flawless Affect creates gives others the opportunity to feel the most beautiful in their flaws is what makes it all worth it.
Katie Dean, of Katie Dean Jewelry, said something very interesting when discussing running one’s own business. She said, “You find out what you’re made of.” Can you tell us about a time you surprised yourself in finding out what you were made of?
Honestly, I’m surprised that Flawless Affect has gotten the recognition it has so soon. It is still in the beginning stages of literally everything. When all the press happened it turned any doubt I had of the success of Flawless Affect immediately into pure determination on creating a movement that will redefine beauty forever. From that I learned that I am dynamically limitless, and so is Flawless Affect.
L.A. LADY CULTURE.
Favorite area of L.A.? Don’t have one yet. Still exploring.
Favorite eatery in L.A.? Currently Bar Verde.
Menu item we must order there? Ahi Tuna Poke. AMAZING!
Favorite happy hour? Every happy hour.
Favorite weekend activities in the city? Sleep, aerial silks, Korean Spa
Audio of choice when sitting in traffic? Either my girl Missy Elliott, Flume, Depeche Mode, Beastie Boys, or some G-Eazy. Depends on my mood.
Place or thing you want to do most in L.A., but haven’t yet? Volunteer at some of the awesome animal sanctuaries.
Biggest L.A. guilty pleasure? Hollywood Bowl live orchestra movie nights. Addicted.