Octavia Lewis got her first taste of entrepreneurship in the sixth grade. On the weekends, she’d venture to the local 7-Eleven and stock up on Pop Rocks and Atomic Fireball candies, then sell them to her classmates for a small profit.
Growing up in a predominately white neighborhood was not always easy. Her dad was black and her mom was native, and Octavia would spend summers on the Spokane Tribal Reservation. Her parents helped her navigate the subtle yet powerful currents of racism, which made her strong and resilient.
“I’ve never thought of myself as less than,” said Octavia. “Anything I’ve wanted in life, I just go out and get it.”
One thing her parents would not allow was makeup. At that time, long dangly earrings and bold blue eyeshadow were all the rage. Octavia longed to try those styles for herself, but it wasn’t until she was living on her own that she learned to apply makeup by watching how-tos from Bobbi Brown on “The Oprah Winfrey Show.”
After spending 13 years as a social worker, Octavia followed her heart and began her career as a freelance makeup artist in 2012. It was fast-paced and exciting working on photo shoots and film productions, but Octavia soon noticed a disconnect.
Makeup application was not as smooth and flawless as it should be because the base – a person’s skin – was not given the same level of care. That sparked her decision to go back to school and become an esthetician.
She fell in love with skin care and the opportunity to help people beyond just makeup, whether it’s clearing up their acne or giving them glowing skin for days. “I love to serve people – that’s been my whole life’s journey,” she said.
In 2016, Octavia opened Inter-Tribal Beauty, located in downtown Spokane at 308 West 1st Avenue. She focuses on progressive and corrective skincare, everything from relaxing European Facials to age-defying facials using Red Light Therapy.
Coming up with the name “Inter-Tribal Beauty” was easy. During powwows on the reservation, there are all kinds of special dances for different groups, but it’s the intertribal dance that always spoke to Octavia’s spirit. Why? Because it’s the only dance that’s for ANYBODY. Octavia explained, “It doesn’t matter who you are or what tribe you’re from, it’s for all of us to come together, feel accepted and celebrate life together.”
Deciding on a location was also easy. Octavia knew she wanted to be downtown because it’s the spirit and heart of the city. “Being from the Spokane Tribe, the downtown area is where my ancestors roamed. It’s where they lived, where they hunted, where they fished. So it’s where I feel most connected,” she shared.
Like it was for many small business owners, 2020 was a struggle, but Octavia is still standing and ready to take on the new year with a vengeance. She’s even started offering Sunday appointments so that clients can take advantage of free parking.
In the future, Octavia hopes to expand her business into a wellness center, taking her inspiration from the Medicine Wheel, used by generations of Native American Tribes for health and healing. It focuses on the physical, emotional, mental and spiritual parts of the body because they’re all connected and all one.
“I’m proud that I am a person of color and I am thriving,” Octavia said. “I believe in the Law of Attraction – what you put out there you get back.” The ultimate feeling is when she hears from a client that she not only gave them an amazing facial, but that she renewed their spirit as well.