Friday 19 March 2021

Interview with Daniella Schofield

Monika: Today I am going to interview Daniella Schofield, a British beauty expert and Avon representative from Blackpool in the United Kingdom. In 2019, Daniella joined Avon, a direct sales company in beauty, household, and personal care categories, which changed her life. So we are going to touch upon the Avon story and her personal challenges related to her transition. Hello Daniella!
Daniella: Hello Monika!
Monika: Could you say a few words about yourself?
Daniella: Hi! My name is Daniella Schofield, I started my transition in 2016 when I was 35, and at the time I was managing services in health and social care. In 2018 my mother's partner and carer suddenly passed away, which totally devastated me. My life changed from that day. I left my job and started caring for my mother at home, and times became very hard, hard emotionally, and even harder financially, as I needed money.
I had no idea what I was going to do, so I joined Avon. I saw an advertisement on Facebook and signed up, I had no real expectations, but it was worth a shot, just to feel like I was doing something that gave me an escape, something to focus on. I was really low; little did I know Avon would change my life.
Monika: Your transition and Avon story was featured in the British press over a year ago. What has changed in your life since then?
Daniella: Confidence. I have so much more confidence. Avon recognized me, and l won the Direct Sellers Association Star Seller award in 2019. I also featured in a painting commissioned by Avon, a likeness of Emma Watson's face, made up of tiny people, showing female role models of the past 60 years, and I'm in that painting, me? You can imagine how overwhelmed I was. I mean come on, but what got me and my story in the press, was because I'm a transgender woman, right, of course, and back to confidence; I needed it.
""I had no idea what I was
going to do, so I joined Avon."
The transition in private is hard enough, but when you suddenly have eyes on you, it's like OMG, help, but through it all, the support I got off society, humanity (yes it still exists) was amazing, although there were a few TERFs I had to slay on the way, haha!
Monika: For those readers that are not familiar with this British acronym, TERF is a feminist who excludes the rights of transgender women from their advocacy of women's rights. Any idea why they look down on us so much?
Daniella: I have no idea why TERFs look down on us so much! Thank god they are a minority, the majority of my best friends are CIS women, strong, independent, and feminists, and they don't understand TERFs either?
I don't understand people who fight for rights, but don't expect others to have rights? If you fight for your rights, surely you fight for everyone? Or am I wrong? Anyway enough said about them, the less we entertain them, the better! 
Monika: Are you satisfied with the work at Avon? Is it a trans-friendly employer?
Daniella: Avon has changed my life, but also my perception of life. They have embraced me as a transwoman and as a representative of our community. They lifted me up when I needed it most. I thank them with all my heart, and skincare and makeup are my obsessions, so we are a great team.
If anyone out there, who is trans, and has ever wondered about becoming a representative, just do it and see for yourself (if you are in the UK, look me up; I'm always looking for new recruits). It's like our transitions, it's a journey, but it's up to us where we take ourselves, but it's the support that gets us to our destination, and trust me Avon has had my back!
Monika: What skills and experience do you require from job applicants? My transgender background would always work against me. I cannot boast about the use of beauty products for my whole life compared to cis female applicants.
Daniella: You need no experience at all; you get so much free training and support. There's so much more to be a representative. You learn about business, selling, recruiting, selling on social media, plus you get to learn about all the products, what there for, and how to use them.
In my experience, a lot of cis women are in the same boat and may have only used eyeliner and mascara all their life. There are no restrictions; we have many cis men who are representatives as well because we are all equal at Avon.
Monika: I love the history of Helena Rubinstein (your competition, sorry). She used to say: "There are no ugly women, only lazy ones". What are the most common mistakes which we make when we apply (or don't) cosmetics to keep our beauty alive?
Daniella: Skin Care, Skin Care, and Skin Care!!!!!!!
If the canvas isn't right, then the paint won't look its best! Having a good skincare routine, introduce a serum, like Vitamin C, which boosts hydration, and gives you a beautiful glow. Stay away from any products with alcohol in or strong fragrances, as these dry out your skin. Also staying hydrated, drinking plenty of water does wonder for your skin.
"I would say learn to love yourself."
As for makeup, always start with a great face primer; this helps give a great base for foundation, minimizes pores and fine lines, but do your research and find out your skin type. If you have oily skin, dry, combination, there are products out there for all types.
Find the right foundation color, which should match your skin tone, always check on the jawline, a couple of colors, the one that matches your skin, is the one for you. I think this is one of the biggest mistakes a lot of women make. There's no competition with Helena, what a Legend.
Monika: I must say that I used to be a big fan of Avon's Perfectly Matte lipstick and Big and Daring Volume mascara. Do you have your favorite cosmetics that you use yourself? 
Daniella: I'm obsessed with our Vitamin C serum, it's one of the best I have used and very affordable. We have a new makeup line by celebrity makeup artist, Lisa Armstrong (UK), and I am totally obsessed with her, all about the base primer, it's so moisturizing and smells like lemon sorbet, it’s lush!!!
If I'm going glam, I use Jeffrey Star Cosmetics eye shadow palettes or Anastasia Beverly Hills, the pigments are just amazing, and I think the best on the planet!
I couldn't live without my false lashes though, and I have found some amazing magnetic ones, I will not leave the house without them on! There are so many, and I'm obsessed; I like to try everything.
Monika: We all pay the highest price for the fulfillment of our dreams to be ourselves. As a result, we lose our families, friends, jobs, and social positions. Did you pay such a high price as well? What was the hardest thing about your coming out?
Danielle: I was very lucky. I have a loving family and the most amazing friends who have supported me every step of the way. It was my second time coming out, as I already came out as a gay man at 16 years old, as back then I didn't know what trans was. But I knew I was different and knew from an early age, feeling that I wasn't in the right body; something was wrong. When I look back, it was very hard on me mentally, as all of us, and it took me until I was 34 to get my head around and pluck up the courage to live as my authentic self, and I have never looked back!
Monika: Was your mother surprised by your transition? Did she accept it?
Danielle: My mum was the one I found the hardest to come out to, but when I did, she looked at me and said "I have always known"???? I was like, excuse me, haha. I didn't expect this kind of response. She said if it makes me happy she will support me all the way, as I say I'm truly blessed.
Monika: Are you satisfied with the effects of the hormone treatment?
Danielle: Yes, I remember the day I got my first prescription for my hormones; I cried, I was so happy. It does take time, and although they usually work after 12 months, all of a sudden I started seeing the effects. I'm very happy with them.

"It took me until I was 34 to get my head
around and pluck up the courage to live as my
authentic self and I have never looked back!"

Monika: We are said to be prisoners of passing or non-passing syndrome. Although cosmetic surgeries help to overcome it, we will always be judged accordingly. How can we cope with this?
Danielle: We're going to be judged whatever, welcome to the world if you are trans or cis if you’re fat or slim if you are a different color if you practice another religion if you live with a disability. We can go on and on about how to cope with this, and this has taken me a while. I would say learn to love yourself; in this world full of opinions, be an example, being an example is the only way we can change opinions, be brave, be YOU!
Monika: Are there any transgender role models that you follow or followed?
Danielle: This is very easy for me, and she is local to me in Blackpool, Carolyn Mercer. Carolyn came out very publicly as a headteacher from a local school, and the story blew my mind, as well as the bravery she showed. I was like, well words can't express, but it's because of her, I found my inner strength to come out and start my transition, and I'm obsessed with her until this day.
Monika: Do you remember the first time when you saw a transgender woman on TV or met anyone transgender in person?
Danielle: I think everyone from Manchester here in the UK of my age and in the community will remember the fabulous Julia Grant. I had the pleasure of meeting her on a few occasions, and have her book "Just Julia". She was big in the late 70s early 80s as an out trans woman and was the first trans woman to be documented on mainstream television!! I didn't see the documentary until much later in life, and I was shocked how gender services treated her, they have definitely improved.
"It scares me and really upsets me for
others in countries where it’s absolutely
illegal to be trans or gay in 2021."
Monika: Of course, I heard about Julia and I read both books. I always intended to interview her but we never managed to do it, as she died in 2019. What do you think about the present situation of transgender women in your country?
Daniella: I feel very grateful to be British, here in the UK, although we have a long way to go, at least we can legally live our lives. It scares me and really upsets me for others in countries where it’s absolutely illegal to be trans or gay in 2021. I mean, come on, we were here, we exist, get over it, so I'm sending my love to those who are not in my position and my prayers are for them.
Monika: Do you like fashion? What kind of outfits do you usually wear? Any special fashion designs, colors, or trends?
Daniella: I have forgotten what fashion is with not going anywhere with the pandemic. I'm usually in leggings and a baggy jumper these days! Black is my favorite color, I don't have a special designer if I like it I wear it.
Monika: By the way, do you like being complimented on your looks?
Danielle: Of course, who doesn't!
Monika: Are you involved in the life of the local LGBTQ community?
Danielle: Yes, absolutely! Things have been quiet during the pandemic, but once we have some normality back, I'm looking forward to helping out with local LGBTQ youth groups, educating, and spreading the word on self-belief and confidence. I often speak to people who have come out in their teens, trans and gay, who end up locking themselves away from society, usually without help and support from loved ones, or just no one to talk to, who understands the journey they are on.
In addition, social media can be one of the most negative places for anyone from the LGBTQ community. It's so important as a community and a family to reach out and help others, as this is affecting so many people's mental health. If I can help anyone, I will always try my best, no one should be alone!
Monika: Could you tell me about the importance of love in your life?
Danielle: I believe in self-love; that's what's important to me and anything else is a bonus. As Ru Paul says: "if you can't love yourself, how in the hell are you gonna love someone else" Amen to that!! As for love life, men are hard work, haha, and I'm currently on a detox!
Monika: Many transgender ladies write their memoirs. Have you ever thought about writing such a book yourself?
Daniella: Definitely it's crossed my mind, but I think I have a bit more living to do, but it will definitely be a good read if I do. I have many, many stories and experiences to share with whoever wishes to read them, so watch out in the future, you never know!
Monika: What is your next step in the present time and where do you see yourself within the next 5-7 years?
Daniella: What a difficult question, I really could not say?? I'm a very "live for today" kind of girl to be honest, and I hate planning. It's so overrated haha, and with the pandemic, the world has completely changed, so I have no idea what the future may bring. When the lockdown is over, it's going to be a new beginning for everyone!
"The journey is hard for us all, but
the destination, to become your
authentic self, it's the most
liberating feeling."
Monika: What would you recommend to all trans women that are afraid of transition?
Daniella: Everyone's experience when transitioning is so different. In my opinion, finding someone who has been on their journey, and completely understands you, is the best way to get through the journey of transitioning. The journey is hard for us all, but the destination, to become your authentic self, wow, it's the most liberating feeling.
I would say don't be afraid, but I remember the start of my transition, I was terrified. However, you need to fight that fear, it's a new beginning, as I say it's a journey, but once you get to that destination, you can start Living, you can be happy, you can be YOU.
Monika: My pen friend Gina Grahame wrote to me once that we should not limit our potential because of how we were born or by what we see other transgender people doing. Our dreams should not end on an operating table; that’s where they begin. Do you agree with this?
Daniella: Amen to that, this is something I totally agree with, and something I absolutely advocate. Don't get caught up with what you are, concentrate on who you are, chase your dreams, be ambitious, get out there, and LIVE YOUR best life!
Monika: Daniella, it was a pleasure to interview you. Thanks a lot!
Daniella: Thank you so much Monika, and to the readers, remember, be strong, be you, be happy!

All the photos: courtesy of Daniella Schofield.
© 2021 - Monika Kowalska

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