A Soldier to Beauty Story
Darlene “Doll” Marie Bradley is the founder and CEO of Lu’Tenent Cosmetics, the first female black-owned luxury makeup and skincare brand in the Inland Northwest. Lu'Tenent Cosmetics focuses on those with sensitive, problematic, and mature skin by providing an alternative to beauty...vegan, cruelty-free, paraben-free and alcohol free. The Lu’Tenent mission is to empower others by raising the bar to make “luxury lips” the standard practice of their daily makeup routine.
Doll is a mother, licensed and certified practicing medical and school speech-language pathologist for over 20 years, survivor, self-love advocate, beauty connoisseur, and now an entrepreneur. Doll graduated from Howard University in Washington, DC with honors and is also an Eastern Washington University alumna.
Due to her life experiences, Doll naturally gravitated towards helping women and men with their makeup and skincare issues throughout her life. “People have always asked me questions about my hair, makeup, skin, and clothes no matter where I went. And it would be regarding stuff I thought everyone knew how to do, from extending the length of my natural eye lashes to applying the type and color of lipstick I was wearing.”
Doll innately has an inner sense of style and grace with a powerhouse presence. But her self-love and self-confidence were difficult to embrace. Doll felt like the “ugly duckling” amongst her peers growing up. She was bullied for unknown reasons, felt she was too big and tall for boys her age and had the worst acne and skin even into adulthood. “I’m humbled by nature and shy. I gravitated towards makeup and skincare so that I could feel more confident about myself.” However, it was her family that helped her be the person she is today.
Raised in a family with generations of Army soldiers and entrepreneurs, Doll has always been a go-getter. Doll was raised an Army brat and developed a keen awareness of military structure and family unity lifestyle. Born in Tacoma, WA where her father was stationed at Fort Lewis, she traveled around the world and was extremely close with her dad. Doll’s mother was the rock of her family, an entrepreneur like her parents. Her mother always involved her with her businesses, such as making crafts and selling products to customers during events.
But as a little girl, it was Doll’s grandmother, Nanny, who introduced her to beauty and fashion. Nanny taught her to hold her head up high as she walked, always carry a luxury bag (Gucci was Nanny’s favorite), and make sure she wore lipstick with every outfit. Nanny’s training guided her into being an avid beauty connoisseur. “My grandmother showed me how to be a classy lady and reminded me of how to be beautiful inside and out…she improved my self-esteem.”
Doll regularly suffered from skin issues, and for the latter part of her life, her skin started to evolve...the woes of aging started to kick in. Doll’s skin became significantly worse during the sickest times she had ever been, which was when she was diagnosed with COVID-19 in November 2020. “It was terrifying. I thought I was going to die. My family and friends were very worried. COVID-19 really positioned me in another realm I didn’t know could exist, mentally and physically. I had the strength of a soldier within my soul to pull through [This is where the concept of the name Lu’Tenent came from].”
While bedridden with COVID-19, Doll’s most irritating symptoms that lingered on was the flare-up of her dry, chapped lips (cheilitis simplex) of which she suffered with since childhood, and dry mouth (xerostomia). Doll was all too familiar with these symptoms because she treated thousands of patients with the same diagnoses. She knew exactly how to treat herself. “I used every kind of lip balm, lip gloss, lipstick, ointment, lotion, & potion that I had, but my lips were still the driest they had ever been…and my fluid intake was adequate. I thought to myself, "something isn't right." I started looking at the ingredients in my favorite lip balm that I was using and to my surprise, I discovered that those ingredients were making my condition WORSE!”
Doll started researching the rest of her products and It was at that moment of disbelief, she became interested in non-toxic and non-irritating products. Doll learned what cruelty-free and vegan products meant, the effects of parabens used in products, and the differences between good alcohol and bad alcohol in cosmetics. Doll scanned various companies online, ordered and purchased products from companies that she thought would help her achieve the balance of the lip look she wanted to achieve and the luxury appearance added to her makeup collection. Doll did not find it. It was at that moment she had the epiphany to mesh her clinical background and passion for makeup to help others. “My faith in God pushed me in a direction that I could not have fathomed. I built this business to help people who suffer from sensitive, problematic & mature skin like myself…to enhance their beauty, increase their self-confidence by wearing long-lasting makeup, and using nontoxic, nonirritating ingredients. And feel luxuriously dope all in one.”
Go to www.lutenent.com and discover a new you!