Marcia Joi Phillips is on a mission to redefine the standard of beauty. She is a burn survivor that started the business Perfectly Scarred, Inc. (PS, Inc.) to empower young burn survivors to “…undoubtedly know that they are PERFERCTLY SCARRED.” She wants them to know that “…their scars don’t define them, but they can propel them.”
The inspiration for PS, Inc. grew from her personal experiences as a childhood burn survivor and her longing to fill a gap in the local burn survivor community. As a child, Marcia viewed her burns as a hindrance, a mark that excluded her from all the good she deserved. As an adult, and having embraced her total self, scars and all, Phillips desires to support others in embracing the beauty of their scars.
“All of our flaws are flawless, every imperfection is perfect and every scar is proof that we’ve battled yet survived to tell the story to essentially help someone else,” says Phillips.
In addition to founding PS, Inc., Phillips is a trained professional, a licensed clinical social worker and certified school social worker who provides mental health services to the public and serves as a liaison between hospitals and the community to aide consumers in reducing risks.
Rolling out talked to Phillips to discuss her inspiration for starting Perfectly Scarred, and her motivation to keep it running every day. Check out her inspiring interview below.
What does the phrase “redefining the standard of beauty” mean to you?
[The phrase] “redefining the standard of beauty” means to simply rewrite the definition; rewrite what the world says is beautiful, to use your own mirror, to see yourself exactly as you are and to say, “I’m my own standard of beauty.” I alone get to decide that I am altogether beautiful and am a gorgeous piece of the puzzle that creates the amazing canvas of our diverse universe.
How were you inspired to start such a unique organization?
Pain can reveal purpose. My pain was being burned by a simple cup of coffee at 14 months of age resulting in severe scarring as a child. I had to wear compression garments and was stared at by the public with looks of concern and pity as a toddler while my mother received looks of anger as people would assume she’d abused me. As a youth I was ashamed; I honestly thought I was the ugliest girl on the face of the planet! I would stand in the mirror, [while] draping brown towels and sheets over my bare body, imagining what it would be like to “look normal.”
I started Perfectly Scarred because I simply want to empower young burn survivors to undoubtedly know that they are perfectly scarred. That their scars don’t’ define them but they can propel them. Just think, the little girl that was ashamed and didn’t even wear v-neck shirts until her 20s is now proudly displaying her burn scars as beauty marks. No one outside of my family reinforced the notion that I was beautiful or that it was ok to show my scars; I literally dressed to appease others and dodge stares and questions. [Now], I refuse to allow any youth, or adult for that matter, to live a life in hiding.
What is your overall goal and aspiration for each burn survivor you help?
My overall goal is for each burn survivor to 1) know that they are a survivor, they are nobody’s victim, 2) empower them to embrace their scars and dump shame and 3) empower them to realize that although their appearance is scarred, that their dreams, desires and potential are not.
What inspires you to show up at work every day?
I’m inspired to wake up and show up daily because I still see youth who question themselves, don’t like themselves and appear defeated. I also see adults who, if they were impacted decades ago, would be strengthened to press forward. I literally wake up with a mission to impact lives, even if it’s just saying something nice or encouraging to one person.
What are the do’s and don’ts for young women in business?
The #1 do is to just go for it! If you’ve been given the vision, no matter who else may seem like they’re doing it, remember that they can’t do it like you! My #2 do is to humble yourself and learn; a lot of people want to be a boss but not everyone wants to be an employee. Simply put, get a mentor and glean all you can. Be willing to ask questions, be vulnerable and grow. A real mentor will be transparent, firm, set boundaries, require growth and expect you to surpass them in the long run (if they don’t possess those things, they’re not the right person).
How do you successfully grow from business failure?
I believe it starts with a mindset. No matter how hard or deep the “failure” is, only an unwavering person who’s made the decision to succeed will see “failure” as a learning opportunity to do it better the next time. I’d rather try and learn from a failure than sit and have wishful thinking any day.
Name three successful female role models and explain why you admire them.
It’s easy to identify famous people but I have local heroes that I glean from who may not even know I’m watching and learning: 1) my mother- she’s a model of resilience and has a heart of gold; she’s the one who taught me to never forget where I came from and to always give back 2) Gail Perry Mason- anyone who knows her or has heard of her likely knows that she is a woman about her business and impacts the community while remaining humble and approachable 3) last but not least is a person who would be shocked to know that I actually learn from her because she is actually someone I’ve mentored; Courtney E. Smith. Every mentor’s desire should be that their mentee be greater than they are and when I tell you, she seriously is!
For more information on Perfectly Scarred, please follow @PerfectlyScarredInc on FB and IG.