Ami Desai may be known as a beauty and lifestyle influencer but she’s also redefined what it means to be a multi-hyphenated entrepreneurial soul with a career spanning from hosting a show on Oprah.com, beauty and lifestyle expert to a busy working mom of two. We chatted with her on the challenges and rewards of the influencer industry, that time she first talked to Oprah, and advice on preserving your skin in your twenties so you can reap the benefits of nourished skin into your thirties (and beyond!).
You are a plethora of information – from beauty to lifestyle and more. How did all of your passions turn into what you’re doing today as a multi-hyphenate?
Honestly, there couldn't be a better time than now to be a multi-hyphenate. Everything you love and are passionate about can be created and hosted in one place that is all yours, whether it's your blog, IG page or Youtube. For me, when I wrapped my hosting job with Oprah.com in 2016, I realized the "mom" platform was starting to take off. I was also pitching myself to several shows as an expert, reporter, contributor - really anything that could help me share my insight with being a working mom. But no one was really interested and I learned 2 things - one, your network is real so build it and use it. And two, people now don't just want to hear what your ideas are, they want to see them.
So if you have an idea for a great series on 5 minutes makeovers for moms (which I did!), then start creating them and having a place for them to live. That does mean investing your time and sometimes money for something you won't see an initial return on, but when it takes off, it's so well worth it and how it takes off is with consistency and authenticity around whatever it is you're talking about. For me, it was about sharing my day-to-day life as a modern mom which meant sharing quick meals, to comfy outfits to easy dirty hairstyles. My content was diverse, just like me. And I'll tell you people that I sat down with like social media experts and managers didn't like that. They wanted me to be in a box that was very specific to one category. I tried it and I hated it, because it wasn't true to me. I didn't just want to talk about motherhood or just about fashion, I wanted to cover it all because that's what was true to me. Because I took that route I haven't grown as quickly as I'd like to but my followin or digital family as I like to call it, is genuine and loyal which I will take over quantity any day.
You’re also a host and I saw a clip of you talking to Oprah for The OWN Show. Can you tell us what it was like the first time you spoke to her so we can live vicariously through you?
Ahh, what an amazing time! I pinch myself often that I got to work for her and actually be on tour with her. The first time I ever spoke to her was actually over skype for the OWN Show and I had no idea she was coming on. It was for a segment on Justin Timberlake when she interviewed him for her popular series, Master Class. I thought I was interviewing a senior producer and she just popped on. I was completely starstruck, and I think even jumbled a few words but she was so kind and just walked me through the segment with ease. Now, meeting her in person and witnessing her power in person was a whole different thing.
One of my fondest memories is when I got to bring my parents to a show and introduce her afterwards. My dad is a very spiritual person, as I believe Oprah is, and I think she cuts through the BS quickly. She knows when people are there just for a pic with her or are there to really learn from here. Back to my dad, prior to introducing him I scolded him and said "Dad, do not talk to her for too long or say anything crazy!" When he met her, he couldn't help himself and went on and on and I was mortified. She looked at me and said "Don't worry, let him speak,” patted him on the back and really listened to what he was saying. That was a moment in which my admiration for her grew even stronger. This day in age to be really present and connect in the moment is hard and she is capable of that. Something we can all learn from!
What skincare advice would you give to your younger self given what you know now?
So funny because I'm working on a Youtube video as I write this on skincare mistakes I made in my 20s. One of my biggest pieces of advice would be to wear enough sunscreen. I know we hear this a lot right now but make sure it's at least SPF 30 and for reference you should be applying a shot glass (two tablespoons) of sunscreen to the exposed areas of the face and body and a nickel-sized dollop to the face alone. Also, I recently learned this but with being a WOC, chemical-based sunscreens have become a favorite because they don't leave that grey cast on my skin. However, if you have a lot of melanin and also suffer from melasma, you should opt for mineral-based sunscreens. The main reason being that chemical sunscreens work by changing UV rays into heat, then releasing that heat from the skin. As a result, UV rays are not absorbed by the skin. But for those with melasma, heat can make it even worse. So, I know it's not ideal but just blend, blend, blend that white mixture until it disappears. And don't forget your neck!!! It's one of the first areas to show signs of aging and it's an extension of your face. Little extra steps like this in your 20s will be paramount in your late 30s!
What’s next for you?
Like anything big, I believe we are going to see IG fade slowly as both a personal and professional platform. Right now, I rely on it heavily for my career and that scares me to think it could be gone in a year or so. Maybe I'm wrong, but either way I have bigger plans that I'd love to see come to fruition. I'm working on a product line with my dear friend who is also a dermatologist. We're looking to speak to a demo we don't think has been properly addressed yet. Hopefully we'll have more on this very soon!!!!