Women Who Define Beauty—Tallahassee Trendsetters  

By Maria Elena Margarella

Photography by elleBelle Photography

Styling by Terra Palmer and Calynne Hill

Because beauty is in the eye of the beholder, definitions of beauty are infinite—for everyone. As women, though, sometimes we struggle to see the beauty around and within us. To empower you to find your own beautiful definitions, we gathered some of Tallahassee’s inspiring beholders and asked them about the beauty that catches their eye.

R. Jai Gillum [First Lady of Tallahassee and Director of Foundation Affairs at Florida Dental Association]

How do you define beauty?
For me, beauty is all about feeling good about yourself. When you are confident, that spirit radiates from the inside and manifests on the outside. You feel encouraged to take pride in your appearance and take care of your body.

What are your go-to beauty products?
The most important things to me are my skin and my teeth.  I can’t live without my Laura Mercier Smooth Finish Foundation powder, Maybelline Megaplush mascara, nude lip gloss, Neutrogena face wipes, Dove soap, and my electric toothbrush.

What and/or who makes you feel beautiful?
My husband!

What or who brings beauty to your life?
My family and my friends.

How would you define your style?
Classic. I wear a lot of black, and then I add “spice” with my accessories. I love to wear bright colored pumps or leopard print shoes.

What do you hope to see in the future when it comes to beauty and women?
While it’s definitely getting better, I want to see more diversity in fashion and beauty products. Seeing someone who looks like you in ads and on the runway can be validating, and I think it’s also important for girls and young women.  I am an average-sized, dark-skinned woman, and I will always support brands and businesses that provide options for me.

Brady Thompson [Realtor]

How do you define beauty?
I think my outward beauty is defined by my self-awareness, self-approval, and self-validation. I certainly love to hear from my husband that I’m beautiful…but feeling confident is really what helps me feel beautiful.

What are your go-to beauty products?
I have always been a “less is more” kind of girl when it comes to beauty products. My list of go-to beauty products is not very long, but it is essential. I LOVE Burberry’s FRESH GLOW Highlighting Luminous Pen. I inherited dark under-eye circles, so after some moisturizer and concealer, I quickly finish off with the Luminous Pen to give my eyes the “I’m awake!” look. Also, two of my daily favorites are the Burberry Gloss in Rosewood and a bit of Jo Malone Wood Sage and Sea Salt Cologne. One thing I simply couldn’t live without is Neutrogena’s Makeup Remover Cleansing Towelettes. These towelettes remove every trace of makeup and include a moisturizer that leaves my face feeling hydrated. Besides the tangible products that I use on a daily basis, my other beauty necessities include plenty of sleep, a lot of water and regular exercise!

What makes you feel beautiful?
Brett, my husband, often tells me I’m beautiful. I love that he enjoys enhancing my beauty by buying me nice things…like my Chanel bag. That’s always a bonus!
As a child I would hear my mother say that “pretty is as pretty does,” and at the time I thought she was referencing appearance. However, as an adult, I know that the “pretty” she was referring to was having a beautiful heart. Doing for others and living a purposeful life is what really makes me feel beautiful.

How would you define your style?
I am constantly refining my style as I age and travel. I tend to lean away from a real tailored look and to go for a more sophisticated casual look. I also love to take comfortable risks, and I’ll often throw on an unexpected piece to finish an outfit. I think Tallahassee does a good job letting women dress to their liking…There’s just not a whole lot of pressure to always conform. I think it’s so important to always be true to your own style.

What or who brings beauty to your life?
My children, Isabel and Everett, bring the greatest beauty to my life. Watching them grow and find joy and purpose in their lives is truly a beautiful thing.

Juli Downs [Manager of Narcissus]

How do you define beauty?
True beauty begins with kindness and a good heart. I have devoted my professional life to helping women match their outer beauty to their inner beauty. I love it when women feel as beautiful as they are.

What are your go-to beauty products?
I love Smith & Colt lip gloss and nail lacquer. I also love Armani foundation and Oribe hair products.

What makes you feel beautiful?
My family! But in the world of fashion…what makes me feel beautiful is being put together head to toe. An outfit doesn’t have to be dressed up, just thought out. No matter if the occasion is work, drinks with the girls, a formal affair, or the grocery store—hair, makeup, and the right outfit are #Stylegoals.

What or who brings beauty to your life?
My friends and family are the beauty!
Great clothes, bags, and accessories are the icing on the cake!

How would you define your style?
Trending classics. Simple, clean, and elegant.
I also think we should have fun with fashion. Don’t lock yourself into one style.  Be open-minded. If you hear yourself keep saying, “That’s not me!” Maybe it should be!

What do you hope to see in the future when it comes to beauty and women?
I wish that all women could see themselves as a canvas with so many possibilities! To see the beauty they bring to the world.
We are hard on ourselves…Be confident and strong—that is beautiful!