Interview with Demi Cortez (he/him/his)
CEO and Founder at Demi Cortez Skincare
Atlanta, Georgia – Passionate about all things beauty and self care for as long as he can remember, Master Esthetician, Demi Cortez’s skin care journey started with himself. As a teen growing up on Atlanta’s Westside, Demi was trying to feel comfortable in his own skin, in more ways than one. “It was a challenging time. Growing up and trying to be my authentic self, especially being an African American guy in the [LGBTQ] community, because it was like you had to play a role – you weren’t actually able to be your full self.”At the same time, he was making numerous trips to the dermatologist trying to heal his problematic skin. He tried every treatment he could to no avail. With no more options in sight, “I knew I had to figure this out for myself. Something that would help my skin heal, but not be harsh like some of my dermatologist’s recommendations.” Studying his own skin and learning its secrets for the most beneficial self-care solutions accelerated his eagerness to learn all that he could about it.
As the years passed, his confidence began to grow. He made a promise: “to accept myself fully as a black gay man,” and noticed that the more he began to “walk in his truth,” it was as if the world opened up to him in return.
“This has allowed me to become who I am today. I made up my mind who I was and what I wanted my life to be. Once I did that, everything fell into place.”
A few years after high school and dropping out of college, Demi discovered an industry that enveloped his passion: esthetics. Seeing it as the perfect complement to his interests, he was excited at the prospect of helping others to put their best face forward. From there, his love for this line of work continued to grow. He received his certification a couple years later. “Just like any school, they’re going to give you the bare minimum. Everything else you pretty much have to learn on your own by doing. When you start to apply everything you’ve learned in a real-world situation, over and over, that’s when you really start to excel. I’ve been perfecting my craft ever since. Everything about skin made me happy. I knew at that point this was my calling. Having the ability to treat and maintain my skin along with helping others achieve their best skin possible was a blessing. Nothing was more satisfying.”
Following esthetics school, when a full-time job in his preferred career field failed to surface, he pivoted to work in Retail Management. Determined to find a way to continue pursuing his passion, he managed to juggle his day job with esthetics work on the side, but this wasn’t enough. He knew he had to find a way back to his calling, to dedicate his career to his desired life’s work.
After losing his full-time job, it became clear to Demi that it was nothing short of a blessing in disguise. “It was time to get back to my passion. I truly believe everything happens for a reason.” Then in 2018, the years of hard work culminated in him founding his very own company, Demi Cortez Skincare. He threw himself into his business, which he runs and operates entirely on his own, and even created his website in three nights, despite not having any prior experience.
“I started doing services again full throttle and didn’t look back. Everything started to fall into place, as planned, and I was on the way.”
After years of sacrifice and careful research, he launched his skincare line in August 2020. He put his all into creating affordable-yet-effective products that would stand out from other options on the market. Consisting of both pure and clean ingredients, they offer highly corrective benefits to bring out the best in one’s skin.
The development process certainly isn’t for the faint of heart: “I’ve been working on my product line throughout the last five years. When you go into product formulation and things of that nature, you have to research the products and ingredients that you want in your product carefully. When you’re creating a cleanser or moisturizer, you always want to target your key ingredients, your active ingredients, whatever they may be. From there, you build up to formulations and you work with a manufacturing company or you make them yourself. I do both, so I have a manufacturing company who I partner with, and I also have products that I make myself. As far as my treatment and body oils and some new products that I have coming out for my bath and body line, we create these formulations. I also make my exfoliants and scrubs. Once I get the formulations I go through a testing stage – I gather all of my client’s feedback.”
“It can be overwhelming at times, but it all pays off knowing I’m making contributions that are changing my client’s lives. It fuels me.”
Throughout the pandemic, when he was unable to see his clients in person, he continued to guide them on their skin journeys online, and help them locate the information and products they needed. This period of time also provided him with the opportunity to step back and consider where he would like to take his brand next. He ultimately aspires to grow his business into a spa empire, first in Atlanta, and later to other US cities.
Demi has been humbled by the outpouring of support from his clients. “My clients bring me the most joy. They could go anywhere for their services, but they put their trust in me.” Being able to guide them on their skincare journeys has been incredibly fulfilling for him, and in many ways has brought his life full circle: the teen that had once struggled to embody his authentic self has blossomed into helping others embrace their inner glow.
As far as his legacy, he wants younger generations coming up after him to be confident that there will be a place for them, too. “Now with social media and everything like that, it’s much easier in many ways, and I’m thankful that the younger generation has this way to connect, have a voice, and express themselves.”
“I want to be an inspiration and represent what’s possible for the ones coming up after me, especially those from the inner city, urban communities. College is not for everyone. A 9-5 isn’t for everyone. There are other ways to become who you want to be in life. Find your purpose and put it into action. I hope to be a role model like, ‘This is a black gay man who started his own skincare brand!’ I want them to see me and to think that anything is possible. I definitely know I wouldn’t be half as confident had I not fully accepted who I was. This has been the key to my transition from childhood to where I am now.”
“I want the community to realize that there are so many opportunities for them to strive to be their best selves and to not let any obstacles they face get in their way. There will be obstacles, there will be for everyone; however, that’s not just coming from an African American, gay standpoint. Generally speaking. So don’t let those obstacles get in the way of accomplishing your goals, because at the end of the day, no one can stop you from your destiny. Once you walk into your destiny, everything else is going to pan out.”
Pictured: Demi Cortez Skincare founder Demi Cortez
What’s the most rewarding aspect of your work?
Seeing my client’s faces after a service or after using my products.
What are some of your must-have products at the moment?
My favorite products would have to be my Radiance Cleanser, Moisture Balance Gel Cream, Brightening Serum and Sensual Blac Body Oil. All of these products are basic fundamentals of healthy and glowing skin. They are great for everyone and all skin types. I have an at home chemical peel that will be released soon. Along with an extension of my Home Collection with candles and room elixirs.
What’s your advice to new entrepreneurs?
Never give up, no matter how the odds may be stacked against you. If it’s your passion, stay consistent and focused.
What’s your secret to staying focused during obstacles?
Remembering why I started my business and the end goal, which was helping others achieve their best skin possible and enhancing their confidence.
What does pride mean to you?
Pride means being authentically myself. Coming up in an urban African American community, it wasn’t always supported being “out” or gay. Once I found my voice, it fueled me to become my authentic self and follow my dreams. I want to be an inspiration to all the other little boys like myself coming up after me.
What do you feel are the qualities that make a good ally?
An ally has to be understanding, willing to stand in the face of adversity and be sympathetic to the community.
In honor of Pride Month, subscribe via www.demicortezskincare.com for a special surprise from Demi!