Lu’Tenent Cosmetics featured in Spokane Coeur d’ Alene Living Magazine: Soldier To Beauty
This article was written by Riley Haun and photography by Shybeast LLC for Spokane Coeur d’ Alene Living Magazine - Bozzi Media (March 2022, pg. 15--16). CLICK HERE for direct access to magazine.
DOLL BRADLEY doesn't have time to reapply lipstick. Between working a full-time job as a speech pathologist, being a single mom to two kids, and running a one-woman business, she rarely has a moment for a passing glance in a mirror.
But anyone who knows Doll will tell you she never looks like she's been nonstop hustling on little to no sleep, even when that's been the case. At the end of a frenzied day, her lips are flawlessly lacquered with the matte, pink-toned nude shade she applied that morning, not a crack or a dry flake in sight.
That's exactly the kind of lasting power Doll set out to engineer when she started Lu'Tenent Cosmetics. Through her fledgling Spokane-based makeup line, Doll is aiming to bring a spark of inspiration and a touch of luxury to the everyday grind of busy people like her. By harnessing her drive to build a brand backed by her own values, Doll has finally found a lipstick that really makes her shine.
In late 2019, long before anyone anticipated the stir-craziness that was to come, Doll says she experienced an awakening. She was struggling with depression, becoming disillusioned with her job, and felt ready for change. What that change would be, she had no clue, but Doll knew she'd hit rock bottom and the only way out was up.
Keeping that spark burning quietly in the back of her mind, Doll pressed on until she and her family caught a nasty case of coronavirus in 2020. Doll was laid up for weeks, without a scrap of energy to spare for the cherished ritual of taking care of her skin. Her lips bore the brunt of the neglect they cracked, split, and flaked terribly, Doll says, and not a single lip balm, scrub, or salve she tried would touch the problem, no matter how many online orders she placed.
"I just didn't find my niche for my tribe, nothing I felt attracted to," Doll says. "There were all these different brands and packages and formulas, and I still didn't find what I was looking for. So, I thought, well, maybe there's other women that are looking for the same thing and it's not out there. And I said, 'Well, maybe this is something that I can do."
Doll immediately set about reading up on the logistics of starting a business that could make that holy grail a reality, taking online lessons and making calls to experts while still laid up with Covid. By the time she recovered, she was researching manufacturers and ingredients, ordering formula samples and testing packaging.
The wave of information, checklists and goals crashed hard over Doll, and there were plenty of times in the early stages where she just about gave up. She was still balancing a full- time job and a family, and the tasks felt insurmountable when nagging feelings of self-doubt and fear resurfaced. But she pushed forward, and born from that constant struggle was the perfect name for her new dream: Lu'Tenant.
Borrowing from her childhood in an Army family, Doll applied the ethics of perseverance and leadership in all its forms to her makeup line in the hopes of inspiring fellow lipstick lovers to take a little moment for luxury as the going gets tough. She refers to her small but growing fanbase as "Soldiers to Beauty", and uses the symbol of the lieutenant to remind users that they all have that power within them.
"What motivates me and what I hope will motivate other people is the constant recognition that you can do this," Doll says. "It's just this little tube of lipstick in your purse or a little lip scrub before bed, but I aim to increase the self-confidence and the tenacity to keep pushing, to keep going through life and hit those challenges all while taking care, and doing self-care and self-love."
The eight universal, vegan shades in Doll's upcoming launch all bear military- inspired names that Doll hopes will bring a little motivation to everyone who swipes them on, from the light brown shade Mission Forward to the true red Stronghearted. Doll's personal favorite, and the collection's signature shade, is a vivid neon pink, Lu'Tenent Kiantha, named for a hero and mentor of Doll's, Spokane NAACP President and community activist, Kiantha Duncan.
Doll plans to launch a variety of vegan lip balms, scrubs, and liners to complement the matte lipsticks and round out a full lip routine. Doll also plans to sell exclusively through the brand's online store for the time being, but she has big dreams for Lu'Tenent.
"In the next five years, I would love for Lu'Tenent to be a global voice for empowerment through beauty," Doll says. "Something as simple as this tint can remind you that you are that lieutenant when you're out here doing your thing at home, at work, in the community. That you deserve to feel beautiful, you deserve to be reminded that you got this in life, and something as little as lip balm or lipstick can really change your attitude."