Stacey Jenkins is a force of nature. Seriously. I met her for coffee at Mud in the East Village, and to say I was engrossed in her story is an understatement. She’s truly a jack-of-all trades, juggling a variety of different jobs at a variety of different places while being married and having two kids. It’s not for the faint of heart. Yet somehow, she radiates calm. It’s extraordinary. Stacey says, “If something happens really easily to me, then I believe it’s kind of meant to happen.” For more on going with the flow, read on!
Describe a little bit what you do.
I’m the general manager at Dangene: The Institute of Skinovation. I am the house mom, the bad cop, the peacekeeper.
What’s your average day like?
I’m on the training room floor. There’s lots of noise and energy and conversation. It’s very exciting and uplifting. I go in to work not knowing what to expect, ever, and I really enjoy having that variety. I do everything from administration to customer service. On the creative side, I collaborate with our marketing team – the talented folks at Skaggs Creative – to create content for our emailers. Sometimes I’m the liaison between the press, the PR team and the Institute. I fix things. If the machines break down, I’m talking on the phone to the repair people with one hand, and I’ve got my screwdriver in the other. Since it’s a small company, it’s kind of like all hands on deck. I manage the space – the physical integrity of the space and the emotional integrity of the space.
How do you stay sane?
If I were to get a tattoo, I would get “shhhhh…” tattooed on my right pointer finger. When I have a bunch of different people coming at me, and I need to get the whole story, I pause, I think, and I might even sleep on it before I get back to you. On the whole, I think people react too quickly too things. A decision you make in the heat of anger is never a good one. If you wait a couple of hours, or until the next day, you will make a different type of decision. Or maybe you’ll make the same one, but you’re more focused, and you have more clarity about why you feel a certain way and how you’re going to deal with the situation.
How did you become someone who knows to pause?
It’s hard. I think it’s age. What’s that old cliché? With age comes wisdom. I was a hothead, but I started changing once I noticed that things didn’t go well for me when I acted out of anger. I made mistakes, and then I learned from it, and now I try not to repeat it. I try to do the same thing with my kids. It doesn’t always work. But when they do things, it’s like, “Okay, let me talk to you later. Because if I talk to you now, it’s not going to be good.”
How did you end up in the esthetics business? Was it something you were always interested in?
Up until three years ago, I knew nothing about it. After university, I didn’t know what I wanted to do. I have a degree in broadcast journalism, and a minor in dance. I danced for 18 years. I was in a dance company in college. As I was graduating, I was in the guidance counselor’s office, wondering what I was supposed to do, when the counselor said, “Well, Carmen Finestra is an alumnus of Penn State, and he’s an executive on The Cosby Show.” She said, “Give me your resume.” The next thing I knew, I was working on the hottest show in the world.
What were you doing?
I was the receptionist. I was always the first point of contact with everyone who walked through that door, or everyone who called. It was a really interesting way to see the inner workings of that show. Six months in, I became the executive assistant for the executive producer of the show. It was the coolest job for someone just out of college. I learned everything about working on production. We had meals catered all the time. I didn’t take the train for three years. They needed you at that office no matter what, so they sent Lincoln town cars every day to and from work. It was also my first real taste of diversity and lack thereof, in certain industries. Now, when I see something, and there’s messaging that doesn’t reflect me or anybody else who’s different, that’s a problem. In this country, and in this world, it’s shocking and startling and upsetting to me that in 2016, it is still an issue. So imagine what it’s like to be a 21, 21 two year old on The Cosby Show. None of the producers were African-American. None of the higher-ups were African-American. There were one or two African-American writers, and all the rest were white. The faces of color were the receptionists, the drivers. When I told people, they were shocked. I was shocked too. If this was the racial makeup of The Cosby Show, you had to wonder what everybody else was doing.
What did you do after The Cosby Show?
I freelanced for a while. But I didn’t love the hustle. Then my brother, who is a trainer to the stars, suggested that I work at the Reebok Sports Club, which had recently opened up. It was basically a country club on the Upper West Side. I started as a receptionist, then became the assistant to the general managers there, then advanced to Membership Services Manager, which is where I feel like I got all of my real training in how to deal with people, and with conflict resolution. When the membership controller position came up, my boss made me take it. It was straight accounting, and I’m not an accountant, but if you put me in an environment and teach me what I need to know for that job, I can do it. I am someone who goes with the flow and the energy and the ease with which things happen. That’s how I ended up at VH1.
Tell me more about that.
A girlfriend of mine called me up and said that the VP of production and development was looking for an assistant. I said, “An assistant? I’m way past that.” She said I should take a meeting, so I did, and three days later I gave my notice. I was at Viacom for ten years, and by the time I left I was Manager of Development and Production. I’ve worked on game shows, reality shows – I worked on Love and Hip Hop. My passion is to think of an idea and then actually “see” the idea. It was amazing. But it was also a hard ten years. As far as places where I have worked, MTV Networks and Viacom were by far the most progressive. They made an effort to diversify the work force. And it was still hard. Eventually my team was dissolved, and I stayed home with my kids for two years. After that I went back to Reebok for a little while, and then, at our Christmas party, I ran into Jennie Enterprise, the founder of Core, and my old boss from Reebok. She said, “I have a job for you,” and three months later, I was at Dangene. It’s been a long journey. I knew nothing about skin, but I did know a lot about people management. That’s my specialty.
What’s the most interesting thing you’ve learned about skin?
That people think that skin of color is tougher because it’s darker. Actually, it’s very delicate, and there are very few things you can do to skin of color without ruining it. You have to be gentler and more careful with it. Another thing I’ve learned is that skin cells regenerate within 30 days, which is why, when you’re doing a treatment, you have to keep doing it or else the skin will go back to doing whatever it was doing before.
How has your skincare routine changed since you started working at Dangene?
I came in with a lot of spots on my skin from picking. When I first started I wore three layers of makeup: foundation, cover-up and then another layer of foundation over the other two. The estheticians taught me that that wasn’t good, and they told me that I needed to stop picking. So I did. I have relapses every now and then, but for the most part I don’t do it. I now use sunscreen, and I only wear powder and cover-up.
As someone who has had such a diverse career, and such a wide variety of experiences, what are the three most important life lessons that you’ve learned and why?
- Slow down and think about things before you act on them. Really take a look at how you’re thinking and feeling – always assess the situation before acting. You make fewer mistakes that way.
- Love yourself, flaws and all. Anyone who knows me knows that I’m super-confident. The body I have now is completely different from the body I had before. I was skinny my whole life, and I was a dancer. In my 20s I decided I wanted to be a model, just to see if somebody would actually pay me to do it, and somebody did. If you look at me now, I’m a mom. I have a mom belly, and I’m maybe 20 or 30 pounds heavier than I was. But I still walk around feeling like a supermodel. I’m not saying that I am one, but I feel that way. I’m not perfect, I have cellulite, I have bad knees, but I think I’m gorgeous, and it doesn’t matter what everybody else thinks.
- Everything in moderation. I mean, I could be dead tomorrow. So if there’s something I really want to eat, I eat it. If I buy something new to wear, I wear it – I don’t save it for some other time. Everything in moderation. That’s the key.