Kana Brown
Kana Brown doesn’t believe in the word “can’t." Even though as a young girl she rarely saw women of color in professional roles, she never doubted her ability to create the life she wanted — here in Evansville. She has forged her own path, playing by her own rules. She is effervescent and lighthearted, yet grounded in a way that most of us only hope to be. She is a champion for women, an opponent to glorified busy-ness, and a friend to everyone she meets.

Meet Kana

I’m originally from Evansville, Indiana — born and raised. I went to Harrison High School and graduated in 2007. From having bad skin all of my life, I became very interested in how to fix that, and also I wanted to work on a cruise ship so I was looking for ways to do that. I knew I didn’t want to do hair, and so I found esthetics. We only had one school that specialized in that here and that’s the Salon Professional Academy, and so I went to school for 8 months to become an esthetician. I ended up doing a lot of makeup while I was in school, and kept doing that when I got out. I worked at Ahh Spa for a bit, I worked at a salon for a bit, and then I went out on my own. Through doing makeup and meeting photographers and all these creative people, that kind of sparked my wanting to create Love IT EVV and so I got to do the best of both worlds.

The purpose of the launch parties is to get people to connect. I want it to be a place where people can come out and meet the writers, meet me, meet anyone who contributes to it. And, see that if they have an interest in doing any of those things, that they can do it too. And just figuring out there are a ton of people in my community that I don’t know that I can connect with. The Love IT parties are also our way of creating less of a footprint and only giving magazines at the party so that we’re not creating a ton more waste within the magazine industry. I wanted to give the experience of a higher-end event but making it attainable for more people. We have very harsh economic lines here in Evansville, and I really wanted to see a mingling of “classes” within these parties. So, the people who love fancy things and are used to that can come, and then the people who are not so used to fancy things can come and meet different walks of life at the parties.

What are the advantages and disadvantages of being a small business owner? How would you describe the small business community in Evansville?

I’d say the advantages are the disadvantages of being a small business owner. You get your own schedule, but you also have to work really hard to be gone for a week because no one is going to pay for your week vacation. So it’s kind of a catch 22 with everything. As far as being a small business owner here in Evansville, the main thing is support. We have so much more of a local movement going on now, but there are still a lot of people that don’t see that it makes a difference to shop local. So just trying to help that mindset of — hey, maybe instead of going to Walmart, I can find someone in the community that sells this thing or getting a service from a service provider within the community instead of going online. I think the struggle right now is just getting people to realize that shopping local does matter.

I want “e is for everyone” to stand for everyone. I would love to see more mixing of culture and classes.

What is your view of the natural (all organic, no makeup, natural hair, etc.) movement?

With the Beauty Room, I try to be eco-friendly and my approach to makeup is also a more natural philosophy. I believe that women should enhance what they already have. So some of the current trends, I’m not necessarily into, but I think the flip of that coin is that I do support the whole natural movement and everything that comes with it because I think it connects us better to what we’re doing. When you go from wearing makeup every day to not wearing it as much, you really start to think about what is in the makeup that you’ve been using. A lot of the time your skin problems are fixed when you’re not wearing makeup every day because there’s so much junk in it. Where you become more aware of what you are putting on your body — I’m definitely for that. I don’t think the natural trend has affected me as a makeup artist. I actually don’t wear makeup every day, so I think it’s good for people to make that decision for themselves and not necessarily follow a trend or hype. Try it for a week, and you might realize you don’t need to wear makeup every day.

Increasing cultural diversity is something our community leaders are working to address. What advice would you lend from your perspective as a minority and a Millennial?

The advice I would give to our community leaders about encouraging more diversity would be to actually come out in the community and go to places that aren’t trendy or hip right now. Like, more people come to Heiney’s Corner because a lot more things are down here now, but where were they when things weren’t that great? So I would say, go to lower income sides of town, have more initiatives where those people can come to higher end places in town, and just start mixing different social classes, because I think that’s more an issue for our area than surrounding areas.

As a creative person, how do you prevent burn out?

This has been a very hard thing for me actually within the past year. Creatives need to know that you do get to a point where you’re producing so much that you hit a wall. I took a month off last year, and went to the west coast. I don’t suggest that for everybody; it’s not ideal for most people’s situations. So this year, for me not to get to that point, I scaled back on my schedule. I’m super into the whole movement of being less busy — let’s stop glorifying busy and really take time for ourselves, time to connect with the people that we love and not being on this, “I need to have a meeting every hour on the hour.” I think if you do that you’re going to burn out really quickly.

What mantra do you live by?

“A closed mouth don’t get fed.” is my favorite. People ask me all the time about how I do this; you just gotta ask people for help. You gotta ask people for what you need, what you want. They don’t that you need help unless you ask.

Kana Brown

What is a book that has changed your life?

A book that has definitely changed my life is The Four Agreements by Don Miguel Ruiz. It just changes your thought process on how you interact with everyone. It tells a beautiful story about a little girl who sings and her mom basically tells her to shut up. Her mom had a really bad day, and then she comes home to that. And so the little girl never sings again. The agreement this talks about is that people have stuff going on outside of you and we can’t always react to something that they say based on how we think that they are delivering that message to us. So it just makes us more mindful to think, 'Hey, maybe that person had a bad day. I have bad days, so maybe I shouldn't take what they say so personally.' So that’s just one of the agreements — not to take everything so personally. And once you do that, you don’t get as upset about everything. So those little tidbits have just been life-changing for me.

In the next 5 years, I see a lot more of the things that we see in bigger cities finding their home here. I think we’ll see a lot more support for local businesses. I’m hoping to see artists come through here; I would like to see more concerts that I would like to go to. I think within five years, Evansville will be hard to recognize. I think we’ll have a lot more development, as we already have so much going on. I’m excited about it.

What mark do you personally want to make on Evansville?

For me personally, I did not get to see a lot of women of color doing professional things or at least they weren’t highlighted as I was growing up here. So I had no idea that what I’m doing could be done here. So, the marker I would personally like to make is to be that representation for little girls of color, or anyone really. That if you set your mind to it, whether you weren’t raised in a family with money or you don’t have a big bank account, that if you put your mind to it, you can still get it done.

Let’s stop glorifying busy.

How do you define success?

I used to think success was going to college, getting a good job, having 2 kids and husband, and making $50-$70k a year. All of those things that are ingrained in you to have a good life. But honestly, owning a businesses means you get to define that word yourself. So for me right now, it’s being able to do whatever I want. That is the guideline for it — if this is what I think is best for me at that moment, that is what is successful.

What do you know for sure?

What I know for sure is that everyone has this power and this passion that God or whatever higher power has put inside of you. Our desires come from the higher source, and I think diminishing those things that you want is doing a disservice to the community and to the world. I think we are all more powerful than we give ourselves credit for.