He was 54 with not a single gray hair. Actually, no hair. As I was looking at my Daddy’s physical vessel for the last time that he would ever look like mine, I knew that I never wanted my future children to look at my dead body at an age still so young—54.
Stress killed my father. And if I didn’t change the way I did wellness, it would kill me, too.
My father, Joseph Deon McGhee, died of a stress-induced heart attack—in his sleep. I wasn’t even aware that people could have heart attacks in their sleep, but here we were. After Daddy’s passing, my anxiety increased significantly, and I became highly stressed. If I didn’t want to meet the same fate as my Big Me, I knew I needed to get my stress under control, quick.
While on my journey to adopt a stress-less lifestyle (because stress-free isn’t a thing), I discovered adaptogens. Adaptogens are non-toxic plants that help the body resist all kinds of stressors , whether physical, chemical, or biological. They help your body regulate your cortisol levels, which is exactly what any living, breathing adult needs in 2021. These magical little herbs changed my entire life—my mental health, my skin health, my immune system, literally everything.
The more research I conducted, the more shocking information I stumbled upon surrounding the effects of stress on Black bodies. An estimated 90% of all disease and illness is stress-related, especially in our community. Yet we still lack access to the proper education, resources and products to aid in stress-management. No one is teaching us about adaptogens. So, I decided to build the brand that cared enough to serve Black people in the space where beauty and wellness intersect, by using beauty as a tool to provide access to wellness created with us in mind.
DEON LIBRA is an adaptogenic beauty brand formulated to support the body’s natural ability to handle stress and activate lasting healthy skin. We are education first, product second. Our job is to serve the people who look like us, in a space that has historically excluded us. As a founder, I believe that everything you build should be to serve. The wellness industry, in its current state, does not serve all people, as it is very white, feminine, and skinny. There is no one-size-fits-all approach to practicing wellness, and we truly want to change how people view wellness practices along with how they craft their own.
Everyone I know is stressed for one reason or another, and I honestly just want Black people to know they are worthy of all things healing and sacred. I want our community members to feel like they are worthy as fuck. A lot of people simply don’t know life doesn’t have to be overwhelming and stressful all the time. Some of us are born into stress and generational trauma, and don’t realize we aren’t required to carry it.
“I decided to build the brand that cared enough to serve Black people in the space where beauty and wellness intersect by using beauty as a tool”
Of course, there isn’t one way to treat yourself. There isn’t one way to live your best life. And there isn’t one way to do wellness. If your form of wellness is to eat plant-based meals and consume adaptogens Monday through Friday so you can get fucked up on the weekend and be perfectly fine when you return to work on Monday, that’s your form of wellness. Feeling good is as much of a birthright as looking good. All people deserve that luxury. We get so concerned with fixing ourselves externally that we often choose to focus solely on what we put on our bodies—not what we put in our bodies. If we dealt with the root cause of most skin concerns (stress), then our topical products may be more effective. There just has to be a community-focused brand that cares enough to say that loudly and proudly. That’s us.
Since I was a toddler, my mother’s nickname for me has always been Beauty Queen. It doesn’t matter who or what is falling apart. It’s going to be “hot ass mess but make it beautiful,” if I have anything to do with it. Therefore, in our case, your stress is the “hot ass mess” and DEON LIBRA is the “but make it beautiful.” I can’t wait for our physical products to exist in the world.
Although my Daddy is gone, he left me with the greatest gift—purpose. None of what we are building would even exist if he didn’t die. It almost sounds fucked up to say. But it’s my truth. The most heartbreaking experience of my life gave me superpowers that I didn’t even know I had. There literally isn’t shit I can’t do because I am Joe’s kid. I truly believe that.
Devin McGhee (@devinkielle) is the co-founder and CEO of DEON LIBRA