A good night’s sleep is the best free skin care routine you can give yourself. And, since you already spend one-third of your life sleeping, why not improve the overall experience? In this episode, Whitney Lauritsen speaks with Melissa Schwartz about the AllNightPillow, which she promises can give you better sleep and younger-looking skin. This revolutionary pillow is made of vegan faux fur—materials that can help you get the most out of your slumber. Hear how Melissa has thought through every detail to make it the best pillow possible, as well as what it takes to make a body/face pillow, what sets the AllNightPillow apart from others, and how it benefits women from pregnancy to beyond. She also discusses her path to becoming a vegan business, including the difficult transitions she had to make from photography to software engineering to body pillows. Melissa recounts the turning point in her use of social media, why she no longer enjoys it, and how she overcame being depressed, experiencing setbacks, and struggling with severe depression.
Listen in as Melissa addresses her move from Los Angeles, what she’s learned about wrinkles, body discomfort, and sleep, as well as her experience with plastic surgery, the advantages and downsides of it, and why she refuses to do Botox. In addition, she offers sound advice on managing your finances along with fascinating anecdotes about ayahuasca and her fascination with UFOs and aliens. Jam-packed with insights, advice, and a whole lot of heart, this conversation will not only give you the anti-aging solution you need but also inspiration to find your passion.
Get notified when you can buy AllNightPillow at allnightpillow.com!
Listen to the podcast here
Trigger warning: this episode contains a brief mention of suicide ideation.
The Secret To A Better Night’s Sleep And Younger Looking Skin With Melissa Schwartz
The Revolutionary AllNightPillow
This episode is something I don’t have a chance to do nearly as often as I would like. I could do it more often because I’m the host of the show, but the way it works for me to get guests on the show is I end up having a lot of people I have never met before. That is exciting and fun. It puts me in this place of ignorance and discomfort. I have someone with who I’m comfortable and whom I have known for many years. I don’t even remember off the top of my head the first time we met. This is Melissa. I’m curious. Do you remember the first time we met each other?
I don’t. Maybe because we have known each other for lifetimes. It is way back there.
I have such strong memories of several years ago when you and I did a photoshoot together, which is a big part of our history. We must have known each other relatively well before that photoshoot because I don’t think you would have invited me to do that photoshoot with you unless we already had some history.
Maybe we had seen each other a lot at events. That is what is great about LA. There is such a strong community of vegan people. It is beautiful. That is the number one thing I miss.
That has kept me living in the city despite some of the downsides. I don’t find that many downsides. The more I think about it, I’m like, “LA feels good.” The cost of it can be a downside and the lack of nature besides the ocean.
What about the traffic and parking?
It is because I work from home that I don’t experience that much of it. I was driving around at a ton of various places I needed to be. I was surprised there wasn’t a lot of traffic. I’m like, “This is not so bad.” I have experienced my fair share of traffic in the many years I have lived here. I don’t think about it that much, but you must because you live in Colorado.
When I first moved here, I remember someone was like, “The traffic is bad at 5:00.” I was like, “I came from that traffic. That was good.” It is relative. In LA, it is wildly different at different times of the day. My place on Overland was close to the freeway. Normally, it takes two minutes to get on the freeway, but at a certain time of day, you will sit there for an hour to get on the freeway, and I’m not exaggerating. It is crazy.
It also depends on what part of town you live in. Speaking of Overland, that is where we did the photoshoot. You and I refer to it as the elevator photoshoot because you use that as the backdrop, and I thought that was cool. I remember what it was like to be in that elevator. You had rigged it up so the elevator wouldn’t go up and down to other floors while we were shooting in it.
I had my shoe in the corner. That is how we did it. You do the white bathing suit one. That one was good.
That was good, but that was a separate photoshoot we did once you set up the official thing inside. I have had the pleasure of doing two photoshoots with you in total. Maybe there was another one I’m forgetting. The elevator one is funny because people refer to it as the broccoli photo. To this day, when you google my name and look at the images, at least one of your photos shows up for me. There is one where I’m holding broccoli. I remember one of my ex-boyfriend’s mom looked me up and saw that photo. She said to my boyfriend at the time like, “This is your girlfriend.” I’m in my underwear, holding broccoli. That was forever in my Google search history.
If the readers ever googled images of me, you have probably seen at least one of those pictures from Melissa. That is a little bit of the backstory of how we met. We have already implied that you no longer live in LA. I would love to know more about that experience when you decide to leave. What is it like to move from a great city like this to a more relaxed part of the country?
It was a natural progression. A lot of things had happened that made me feel like I needed to make a change because I was stuck feeling. Two of my best friends had moved away. My friend, Giselle, had moved. She was the one person I saw all the time besides Donovan. Donovan had gotten into a relationship. He is married to her, and they are happy, but he has moved away with her. That was right when I started dating my ex-boyfriend.
When we were together, I let the photo studio fall to the wayside because I was writing that book. I don’t know if you remember, but I was writing a book on veganism. It was good, and I was working hard on it. Embarrassingly, for the amount of time I spent on it, I was only about halfway through. My ex and I broke up.
I told you this the last time we cut up on the phone. I have never been suicidal. Still, to this day, I have never even been close to being suicidal. That experience made me have an appreciation for understanding that more. It was a win to wake up in the morning. I was devastated, and I couldn’t write. Writing by yourself is cerebral. Writing about veganism and animal rights, you are faced with the horrors. That is important to me, which is why I was writing it. It felt like such a big failure to me. At that point, I was like, “I need to get a different job. I need to be making more money.”
I’m grateful and thankful that my parents helped me a lot during that time. They knew I wanted to write that book. When I was in that down place, after a while, they didn’t want to enable me to stay stuck in that state of mind. They were pushing me to do something else, whether it was the photo studio again. I knew I wanted to do software engineering. That was where I met my ex. We met in school. That was a painful transition to like, “I need to get my ass in gear and do something. I’m going to have an adult job and make some money.”
I went down that path, and it was an obvious choice. This is a whole other tangent. I don’t know if we should talk about it. I got my first engineering job in a strange way. It was in Colorado. I decided, “Let’s move to Colorado.” I also wanted to talk about psychedelics a little bit here. At this point, when I was going through the worst part of my depression, I had done a lot. I don’t know if you know much about ayahuasca. I was interested in ayahuasca at the time. I ended up doing it a couple of times. That is one of the reasons I wanted us to touch on synchronicities. I don’t know if I should go down this rabbit hole. This is a long rabbit hole.
I love rabbit holes, so please do.
The psychedelics opened my eyes to the fact that what is going on here is not all we perceive in our everyday reality. There is a lot of stuff going on behind the scenes, whether you want to call that spiritual or religious. We have connections with others that are somehow guiding us to certain things because I had some experiences that were unlikely to all have happened all at once. It would be crazier for me to think they were coincidences.Psychedelics opened my eyes to what's going on behind the scenes. Click To Tweet
One of the coincidences was there are a couple of people that I watch online. I’m into aliens, and there are a couple of people I watched that I’m into. I was watching a YouTube video, and they were like, “Contact in the Desert is this weekend. You should come. I’m speaking.” It was the next day when I heard them say that. I was like, “I have always wanted to go to Contact in the Desert.” I have two dogs, and I don’t trust anybody to watch my dogs. I was like, “If I can find somebody to watch the dogs, I’m going to go.”
I did find somebody, and I went there by myself. This was unplanned, so I didn’t have any friends. Not that any of my friends were interested in aliens enough to come with me, but I went there by myself. I kept going back to the Gaia table because the guys were there. I started talking and made friends with them. When I was milling around, and l didn’t know what else to do, I would go over and talk to them.
At the end of the night, we were like, “Let’s go to the golf course and hang out and look for UFOs.” There were five of us. We were all hanging out and talking. At the end of the night, they were like, “What do you do?” I had finished my software engineering boot camp. This was when I needed to get an engineering job. I was like, “I’m a software engineer.” They all were like, “I can’t believe it.” One of them was the HR person. She had told them all that her intention on this trip was to find a female software engineer to hire. I was like, “Don’t put that much pressure on me. I am not that good. I’m telling you.” They were like, “No, we are going to hire you.” I went through the process, and it was such a great job.
When I moved here, it felt like the right decision. Gaia is such a cool place to work. There are many interesting people. All of us know about aliens. It was great. I made a lot of friends, and there are a lot of vegan people there too. I love software engineering. It is still a sad transition for me because I wanted to get the book done, but that sadness also is the thing that helped me discover this pillow.Sadness helped me discover the body pillow I created. Click To Tweet
I cried for a year straight. I am not exaggerating. I cried every day. I was sleeping a lot. One morning I woke up, I looked at myself in the mirror, and I could see the wrinkles from how I had slept. I was like, “That is weird.” I googled it, and it is a thing. I’m like, “How did I not know this was a thing until I was 35?” It makes sense. You spend a third of your life sleeping. If you are sleeping smashed against your pillow, it is going to exacerbate the wrinkles on your face.
I had a tiny little travel pillow that when I was sleeping, I would try to avoid it. I got to the point where I couldn’t sleep if I could feel the wrinkles forming. I was unhappy about it. I sewed myself the precursor to this pillow. It has gotten much better since then. This wasn’t my life’s dream to make this pillow, but it is such a good opportunity.
I’m not still 100% sure this is patentable. I have the provisional patent on it, but that doesn’t mean you are going to get the actual utility patent. It means that intellectual property is there for you for a year to see if you can do something with it. Once I pay for the patent, we will find out if 1) Someone else already has a patent that invalidates mine, or 2) If something is clear that it is not patentable, which might be the case.
I love to see the pillow for people that are reading this. This is the AllNightPillow that you and I have been talking about for the last few weeks. You reached out to me, and we reconnected after years of not talking as much. You said, “Whitney, I have made this body pillow.” You immediately had my attention. You started talking about what this body pillow was. I love this journey you are describing because there are many benefits to the right pillow. I don’t know that much about wrinkles on pillows. I love hearing your story, and I’m excited to hear more. First, I want to see what the AllNightPillow looks like in its iteration.
It is not just a body pillow. It is also a face pillow. I don’t put much filling in mine because that is the way that I like to sleep on it. It is adjustable. That is one of the good things about it. If you get it and you want to have yours be a little thicker, that is an option for you. All it does is it takes the pressure off your cheekbone and your jawline while you are sleeping. You can move it around and make it comfortable for yourself.
There are competitor pillows that do the same thing that take the pressure off these pressure points on your face. I can’t speak for everyone else, but in my experience, they were uncomfortable. I couldn’t sleep with them even if I wanted to. A lot of them are made out of memory foam. They are harder. You can even put pressure on a different point that you get wrinkles in a different place. If you are supporting yourself solely with your brow line, pulling your brow up all night isn’t good either.
It blows everything out of the water. It is soft and comfortable. The reason mine is deflated is I like to use it with another pillow. It is sleeping on the pillow you like to sleep on, but it puts this little tiny space between you and that pillow, especially when it is used in combination with the body pillow. I was telling Whitney before we were on the phone. When I get depressed about this, and I can’t find a manufacturer, and I’m having trouble getting on social media stuff again, I wake up in the morning, and I’m comfortable. I’m like, “I have to pursue this because people are going to love this.”I wake up in the morning and I realize that I have to pursue this. Click To Tweet
I’m hard to please when it comes to stuff like this. I’m not even exaggerating. This has been life-changing for me. The quality of your sleep is life-changing, not even for your looks but for your overall health too. Now, I have been going to an acupuncturist. I didn’t even know this, but this is a train of thought in Eastern medicine. The muscle cramps and pain you get, whether from sleep or not getting enough blood through, flow, and circulation through certain areas, which is why sometimes when you wake up, you feel back pain or whatever pain.The quality of your sleep is life-changing. Click To Tweet
Anything that relates to your neck, if you are not getting that circulation when you are sleeping at night, not only can you have brain fog in the morning because that blood isn’t circulating to your head as much, you are not getting the nourishment to the skin on your face. It is not waking up with back pain and neck pain that hurts. It does affect the anti-aging stuff, energy level, and mood more than you thought because it is about your circulatory system.
Pillows are subjective. What people like is different. Some people like a hard pillow or a soft pillow. Some people don’t sleep with a pillow. It is hard to say what other people are going to like. One of the reasons I decided to advertise mostly to women is because the body pillow is a little better for women, potentially because we have curvy shapes. Laying straight down on your back, if you have a big butt as I do, puts stress on your spine. It is not comfortable for me to sleep on my back, which is the gold standard for not getting wrinkles on your face. You want to be sleeping on your back, but it is not even an option for me. I can’t do that. My lower back will hurt.
I can recommend this body pillow to anyone that hasn’t tried one that is a little curvy because it is a night and day difference. The pillows work in three ways. One is the one I already talked about, where it takes the pressure off those points on your face. The second important one, which we talked about, is the blood flow circulation thing.Body pillows are a night and day difference. Click To Tweet
The other important thing is learning to sleep on your back. I was a stomach sleeper, which is the absolute worst for your face. You put more pressure, even more than a side sleeper, so you want to start training yourself to sleep on your back. For me, that was hard. If anything, I gravitate towards sleeping on my side. If I can’t sleep on my stomach, I want to sleep on my side.I was a stomach sleeper, which was the absolute worst for your face. Click To Tweet
With this body pillow, you can sleep on your side, but you will sleep on your side tilted up. You got something in front of you that you can put your arms around. You can also tuck it close into your back. You can lean against and coupled with. It supports this pillow the right way. This part stays off the center. It is perfect for helping you learn to sleep on your back or at least sleep on your side facing up.
I want to surprise pause you for a second because it is unbelievable what you have created, and your knowledge around this is impressive. I’m thinking back on everything you have shared up until this point of your transition from incredible photography. I left this part out, but I have worked with a lot of photographers, and you are easily one of the best I have ever worked with.
The way that you think about all the details of the lighting, the angles, and the clothes, you have a mastermind. Being a software engineer requires your brain to work in a certain way. You are developing something else, which seems like nobody else has thought of in the way that you have. That innovation is incredible to witness. You are not doing these things for yourself. You are doing them for other people. That is also the overarching thing I have seen in all the years I have known you.
It is not a selfish act. You are taking your passion and interests. You are using them to bring out the best in people. You did that in your photography, and now you can do that with a pillow, something people might never think of, like me. I don’t think about how my face is being stretched, compressed, or scrunched up. I want to be able to sleep well, but now you can sleep well and take care of things that have never even crossed your mind.
Thank you. That is a nice compliment, and that is nice to say. One of the reasons I got away from social media a little bit is I feel like, a lot of times, the people that stick with it are good at being extroverted and making it about themselves. No shade to that. That is awesome. That is how you promote yourself and get yourself out there. I like it to be about other people. I don’t want it to be about me. I respect that and thank you for saying that. You are the same way too. You are good at making people comfortable and sharing your spotlight. I like that.
In social media, my belief around that is it can be about other people. Our society encourages us to be self-centered and work as individuals, and not to collaborate and give other people value. That sprinkled in. We hear messages about being selfless and collaborating. What I have noticed is there is a lot of every man for himself mentality or, “Let me do this so I can gain something from it.” It doesn’t have to be that way. That is part of a hidden message in the work that you do, Melissa. There is much more than what we can gain for ourselves. We can gain for ourselves and help other people at the same time. That is beautiful about what you do.
I want to come back to that. I want to talk about the social media portion of this because that is one of the things about this business that has given me the most anxiety. Before I forget, I wanted to say a couple of things about the pillow. One of the things I like about certain pillows is they have zippers. It’s the regular pillows I’m talking about. You can put in different filling or take filling out and make it so you like it.
I was surprised there was no prior art that I could find patent-wise because when you have a long pillow, the filling moves around. That is one of the big problems with the first prototype that I made. For a while, it was good the way it was. Over a period of months, it was moving around, which was also a good thing because it helped me realize, “This is better when there are less in certain places,” especially with the body pillow. When you buy a body pillow, unless there is something I haven’t seen that does exist, the body pillow all the way around has the same amount of filling.
My body pillow has seven compartments. One of the things that makes it far superior to others is the centermost compartment. I’m going to have it shipped with less filling in it because people want to use the pillow they like for their faces. Most body pillows don’t let you do that at all, which is one of the reasons I find them a no-go. In this one, you can use it as a pillow. You can put the amount you want in there or take it out a lot so you can use your own pillow with it.
It is also advantageous for pregnant women because it is common when you are pregnant to use a body pillow. I have never been pregnant. I don’t know if this is applicable to people, but if you wanted to, you could take out one of the side center pieces. You can take out a lot of the filling there so your baby bump is in line with the rest of your body sideways. When I start promoting, I’m going to try to find some pregnant vegan women that I can send this to and see if they like it.
For the face pillow, the way I’m going to ship it is the way I like it. For all of these compartments, you can change the amount of filling in them. The way that works best for me is the most filling at the top, less filling in the middle, and less filling at the end. The more filling at the top gives me that support from my forehead. When it comes over here, I want less because I don’t want it choking me, especially for people with big breasts, and in combination with the body pillow, if you sleep in between your chest, this helps you not get these chest wrinkles. I will put it here and hug the body pillow, and I will have a wrinkle-free sleep all night long.
The details are so cool. I’m curious too. Where are you now, Melissa? If people are reading this and thinking, “I need to get this pillow,” can they buy it? What are the stages since you have been talking about all this development? If someone is eager to check it out, where do they go? What can they do?
You cannot buy it yet. I have had the hardest time finding a manufacturer, which I found the right one. If you want to go to AllNightPillow.com, that is where you can sign up for the email list. I did not set up an initial email. Even if you don’t get an email, it is okay. You will be on the list. I feel like everybody that wants to pre-order, please sign up on that. You will get an email as soon as the Kickstarter goes up. You will get the first steepest discount. I’m going to do three tiers of discounts depending on how close we get to production. The beginning adopters will get the best discount.
I want to hear more about that stuff too. What is it like to try to find a manufacturer and learn how to crowdfund? When you were talking to me initially, you were talking about patents. I immediately thought of Shark Tank because I didn’t know much about this industry. When I hear the word patent, I think about all the episodes of Shark Tank I have watched. You told me you didn’t want to go the investor route. You wanted to go the crowdfunding route. How did you make those decisions? There is so much complexity that comes into developing a product like this completely on your own.
I feel like it’s less complicated when you don’t have to answer investors in any way. I would rather do this through pre-sales, which is a little riskier because I got to put my own money into promotion, which will be okay. I quit my job a couple of months ago. I can’t let my parents read this blog. I didn’t want them to know I quit my job because they had financially helped me throughout the years. I know they worry about my capability of financially taking care of myself. I do have a skillset and a lucrative career. I’m going to be fine, and I am going to apply for jobs the next month.
The progress that I was making on this was slow. I had to take a week here and there vacation days. I had to teach myself how to write the patent, which I got on Udemy. One of the Facebook attorneys made a course on patents. It was mostly for software patents. I changed it for what I needed. That was its own little journey.
Sewing the good prototype was its own journey because I’m terrible at sewing. I have a sewing machine, but it is a miracle if it doesn’t eat the thread every ten seconds. I had to take a week and do that. Finding the manufacturer has been the hardest thing because it seems like I would like to keep this in the US, at least for now, because you hear these horror stories about how badly people are treated overseas. I’m not saying they are all like that. I’m sure they are not, but I don’t personally know. I would rather keep it in the US, at least for now.
What I’m doing is considered a small batch. The Kickstarter is going to be 250 to 500 pillows. Small batch manufacturing seems to be a tumultuous thing because it is a lot of these companies, and this is my experience. I don’t know if I’m reading this the right way. They are always open to new work, but they have contractual obligations already that, a lot of times, it is not the right product for them. I have contacted over 30. Most of them don’t contact me back. The ones that have, I will get all excited about, and they want to see the product. A couple of them have ghosted me after I have had meetings with them.
That has been demoralizing because I’m like, “I can’t advertise this pillow if I don’t know how much it is going to cost. I need to know who is going to manufacture it. I need to do a time trial and get the materials lined up. Some of the stuff I can’t do by myself.” I finally found the right one. It is a company that only does pillows. They ignored my emails twice. I got in contact with them because I had talked to a different company that was like, “We don’t do that, but this company does it.” I was like, “I can’t get them to email me back.” The guy was like, “Let me call them.” It is because they had a relationship already. They had been great and responsive. As soon as I get off the phone with you, I’m going to continue making a prototype because I’m going to send them two prototypes.
The other thing is silky satin material is commonly used for stuff like this, which is a bad idea. 1) Silk is not vegan, and it is terrible to kill insects for something like that. 2) It is not smart. A silky material would be good for an eye mask, something that moves with you when you move. A material that creates a lot of friction, like a rough material, will create pulling. Still, so is a silky material, especially if you sweat a little bit at night because it is going to stick to your body and is going to pull.Silk is not vegan, and it is terrible to kill insects for something like that. Click To Tweet
It was a hard decision because faux fur is not environmentally friendly. I’m trying to make this pillow as environmentally friendly, sustainable, and healthy as possible. Everything that can be organic will be, and the inner filling is going to be recycled. It is got to be soft. We can’t use organic cotton because that is a little firmer. We are going to use a recycled poly-cluster fiber fill. It is mixed with Tencel, which is another eco-friendly, sustainable option.
I debated on this if I was going to sell this outside cover with it, to begin with. I don’t think I am because maybe not everyone is going to like this. Some people sleep warm, and this is a warm material. Because it is not eco-friendly, I rather people think they are not going to like it. I don’t want it to come with the pillow, but I will offer a steep discount for people that buy the pillow that can also buy this if they want.
I would recommend this, especially for the face, because this faux fur, what is good about it is when you move, it got this small delta of change that will move with you. It is not going to pull your skin the same way. It is going to move when you move. It is the best option, but I am going to look for some recycled material that is a little bit more eco-friendly. I’m going to do my best to find something like that. I’m glad I got that out of the way. I wanted to make sure I mentioned that.
This is what I want from products. I love things that are not only innovative but so much passion has been put into them. That is what I want to buy. I want to support small business owners like you. That is why you are on the show. I want to support people that care about the environment, animals, and other people. I also want things that are considerate of what people are struggling with. You are addressing many pain points people don’t even realize they have because nobody has told them this stuff is going on.
This pillow should apply to a wide range of ages because when I was younger, I didn’t think, “When you are 35, you get wrinkles.” The best time to use this is before you have wrinkles. It is helpful when you already have them. Have you ever seen those stickers that go here? They do work, although 100% do not sleep in them. That is my personal opinion. It is not smart to sleep in them.The best time to use this body pillow is before you have wrinkles. Click To Tweet
Are you talking about the silicone eye patches or anti-wrinkle stickers you put on your face?
The way they work is they pull the wrinkles that you already have. They pull it out to a flat surface and let that circulation back through that area. It helps you not continue with that crease in your face. It helps your body put circulation back into those areas. That is a great thing. Do it while you are driving and sitting up doing work at home. Don’t sleep in them because I have slept in them. I can tell you that it will create other problems because you are still pulling. You are pulling in a different way because you got this thickness on your face.
I don’t know how to express it, but they work. I just don’t think you should sleep in them. Anything like that is going to pull you in a different way. The idea behind that is letting that circulation back through into that area. Even if you have a lot of wrinkles already, starting to sleep like this every night can start to help you repair them. You do swell a little bit at night when you sleep with your face, which is a good thing because it allows more circulation and fluid to the area. Over time, it can even help you combat things already there.
You are touching upon something else, too, which is some products are made to help with one issue, but you don’t realize they are causing another one. In the anti-aging world, which you are becoming knowledgeable about, it is sold to a lot of people out of fear. When people are afraid, they will make decisions that might not be in their best interest, or they don’t have all of the details, but they are moving quickly. They want to get over the fear and solve the problem. They will do anything and end up buying something without understanding the potential consequences and the downsides of it.
That applies to plastic surgery, which I have some experience with. You fix one thing, and a different problem you didn’t realize was going to be a problem will be a problem. We are both vegan. We both care about the animal rights side of this, which is why I will never do Botox. Any medical product at some point was not good concerning animal testing, especially Botox. To this day, they still do a percentage of their tests. They are lethal dose tests that are nasty, like killing mice for nothing. As I would like to be beautiful, I will become a wrinkly ragged mess from now until forever to not do that to animals. That is not okay.As much as I want to be beautiful, I'd rather be wrinkly than do Botox. Click To Tweet
No product like this is good, but we all have a line of, “No one that is vegan does nothing harmful.” I do filler in certain areas. One other thing you can do to help your face be nice for a long period of time, which I wish I had known when I was younger, is don’t make a habit of biting your lips or biting your cheeks. That repetitive motion over time creates the nasal labial fold lines and lines around your mouth. I catch myself now when I do it, and I’m like, “Don’t do that.” It’s anything you do over a long period of time, which is why sleep is one of the big ones because you spend 30% of your life sleeping.
Here’s the other thing. I was researching facelifts. I’m pro-plastic surgery. I like plastic surgery. If someone likes it, you do you. You do what you think is good for you. I’m all for it. I was researching facelifts. There are a couple of trains of thought on facelifts. There are some doctors who believe in pulling up the fascia, the layer below your skin. They will pull that taut, pull the skin and remove a little bit of skin to pull that taut.
There are some doctors who believe that the second part you should do sparingly, if at all, because, over time, you are always going to create that laxity, whether it is from sleeping, smiling, or gravity. If there is a certain amount of laxity that you have that you can live with, it is better not to make that taut because you are thinning out your skin. That is going to happen again, where you are creating laxity. Your skin can’t bounce back from that because you are pulling it more. I’m not saying I will never get a facelift. These wrinkles don’t bother me that much, but these ones do. I did some stupid stuff to my face throughout my life. Should I go there? Should I tell you?
Melissa, I’m grateful you are talking about this openly because A) I have never covered this on the show before, but B) The more transparent we can be about the choices we make when it comes to beauty and anti-aging, it helps other people decide, “I don’t want to do this. I want to do this. Thank goodness someone like Melissa is sharing about it because I felt afraid to do it.” Let’s hear it all. Tell me whatever you want to share.
I read an article when I was a kid. I was 12 or 13. I was reading seventeen magazines. I read about this woman that had a nose job. She liked her nose job and was fine with it, but she wished she hadn’t because she liked the way her family loves their nose as is. She wishes she hadn’t made that decision when she was younger.
I liked the tone of that article because it was non-judgmental. It is not like, “Don’t do plastic surgery.” It is like, “Are you sure you are going to want this?” I got my lips done. I don’t even remember. I’m bad at the time. I was young. I was in college, and I was not vegan at the time, but I still didn’t want to do certain materials. There are some materials that are animal-based.
I ended up doing Gore-Tex, which was a terrible decision. They make jackets out of Gore-Tex. It is waterproof. I ended up having that taken out years later because you could see where it started and ended. It was hard. I didn’t like how it felt. Because you know what you like and will like something indefinitely doesn’t mean you should do it.
Plastic surgeons have all kinds of skill levels. Even people that are good at something sometimes have a bad day. I’m a photographer. Some days, I feel like I do a good job, and some days I don’t. If I did a bad job on someone’s face, that happens. I would say caution with doing things that are permanent like that, even if you trust the person you are going to or whatnot because you never know what can happen.Take caution when doing something permanent to your body. Click To Tweet
I ended up having that material taken out. What I did next was I had a little liposuction on the inner leg, and I had the fat injected. I injected it there and there. I also did the nasal labial folds because that is one of the places that was getting hollow from me and having that habit o biting my lips. You also get it from smiling.
I’m not saying I don’t recommend that procedure. I’m insecure about my lips now. My lips were always uneven. They were, but it emphasized it more to me. One of the reasons I don’t like being on camera is I don’t like looking at my lips and the way they move when I’m talking. I’m like, “It looks weird.” Less is more when it comes to that stuff. I’m not saying don’t do it, but less is more, in my opinion. I’m going to go back, read this, and be like, “Why didn’t I say this?”Less is more when it comes to plastic surgery. Click To Tweet
Something that is coming up for me is how other people or we as individuals tend to notice much about ourselves that other people don’t notice. I would have never even thought that about your lips. I’m surprised to hear you say that. It is also a relief when you hear someone talk about their insecurities because you’re like, “What I am insecure about, maybe other people don’t notice, but even if they do, they are insecure about something about themselves.” That is the human experience.
Even the people we think are the best-looking people are insecure about something. They might not just share it with us. I’m grateful you are helping people think through this if it is a consideration. There is pressure with anti-aging, especially for women, to make all of these changes. It is important to decide what is best for you and realize it is a little bit neutral. If you want to get some work done, that is what is best for you.
As you are saying, thinking through it like, “Is this a permanent change? Should I do less instead of more? What feels good for me versus am I doing this because I was pressured into it?” There is a whole side of things that I’m on for myself where I don’t want to do anything. It doesn’t even appeal to me.
Whitney, you are naturally beautiful. Look at you. There is nothing you would do.
That doesn’t mean I’m not insecure about things and wonder about the wrinkles and things like that where I could point them out, but I don’t even know if people notice. The other thing is I am experimenting with letting my hair be natural in color. I got gray hairs. They have been developing over the last several years. I said something to somebody, and they were like, “I didn’t even notice.” I was like, “How could they not notice? I have a few at the front of my hairline. I notice them every day, but some people I have been around for a long period of time haven’t even noticed.” It blows my mind how they could not notice something that seems obvious.
That is an important part of this. Are you doing something because you are afraid of what other people are going to perceive? Are you doing it because you don’t like perceiving that? It is for you. You don’t like the way something looks. You are changing it. You are not changing it because you are hoping to change other people’s perceptions. My point is you can’t even control other people’s perceptions. You don’t even know what they are thinking. What is the point?
It is the whole argument of where one starts and ends. Do you like this thing because you think other people will like it? Do whatever makes you happy, even if you want to, because you think a boy will think you look pretty. If that is what makes you happy, it is okay. If it is something you don’t want to do, don’t do it.Do whatever makes you happy. Click To Tweet
Some people need guidance for what makes them happy. It seems like this body pillow makes you happy. Do you see yourself sticking with this? Do you want to go back to software engineering and/or photography? Where is your life path right now? You are all in on this pillow, but you must be thinking about the future to some extent.
I’m going to get another software engineering job because this isn’t going to happen without me putting money into it. I’m going to have to put some money into it. The goal would be for it gets popular, for people like it, and makes money enough to the point where I can work for myself. I don’t even want to revisit it in my mind, like, “Will I finish the book?”
I do have some goals that are software engineering related that I want to work on. I love to be able to be making enough money that I can hire other people to work on that with me and help me. I don’t think I will ever go back to photography. I love it, and I would like to do it for fun, but as far as making money, I don’t know. Living in LA is expensive. Even if I were making a lot of money, it still wouldn’t have been a lot of money.
The other thing I know you wanted to talk about was social media pressure. I’m curious since you mentioned it. When you are building a brand, there is that pressure to market it properly. You are talking about your goals here of getting the sales and building things up for a business. Every business is thinking about that. Some businesses approach that with the marketing lens primarily. Some people are trying to do everything they can outside of marketing first then get to marketing eventually. There is the looming side of social media, which is tied to marketing. I’m curious to hear what your marketing plan is right now and where does social media fit in, if at all?
It is such a double-edged sword. I don’t know, Whitney. When I was younger, and I was in LA, I liked posting everything I was doing. I liked posting my food and who I was shooting my photoshoot with. That was fun. I don’t know what happened. It even started happening before my breakup. My brother had an accidental drug overdose. It wasn’t because of that, but it made me a little more depressed. I didn’t want to keep putting myself out there. I had enough on my mind. I didn’t want to argue with people about veganism. That was the start of me becoming a little more private.
When I was going through my depressing time, I didn’t want to post because I was like, “What are you going to post about?” This is fine therapy for some people, where they post their sad quotes. That is cool and awesome. I’m not denigrating it in any way, but it is not me. I didn’t have anything to post. I was worried about money and my career. I wasn’t in a fun headspace where I wanted to be out there on social media.
The whole pandemic stuff and all that stuff is happening. I have a lot of controversial opinions. When you spend your time building your audience on social media, I don’t want to put myself in a position where I’m not my authentic self. I won’t say what I want to say. It is also if you do say that stuff, not only do people not like you and unfollow you, but the algorithm also doesn’t like you. I want to be careful going into this, knowing that I want to have a separation between my personal and my business presence because I don’t want to be inauthentic.
I don’t know, Whitney. It is hard. I used to post nasty animal stuff because that is what made me vegan. Hearing about a slaughterhouse and seeing what happens at a slaughterhouse are two different things, and everyone should see it. If you are vegan and don’t want to put yourself through that, go ahead and be my guest. I don’t put myself through it anymore, either. If you are still eating animals, you are 100%, in my opinion, should be watching that because you are the reason that is happening. I’m sorry. I don’t mean to be aggressive.
There is no government that is going to come in and put regulations in place. It is going to be through the demand that that stuff goes away. I still believe it is going to go away in our lifetimes. It dovetails into all the bad things that are happening to humans because we are giving these corporations power. Every time we give them money, it is the power used for censorship and what fake news is. These companies, at their core, don’t care about torturing and murdering others. They make their whole business from it. Whether it is a chicken or a human, it doesn’t matter.These companies, at their core, don't care about torturing and murdering others. They make their whole business from it. Click To Tweet
It has been a lot to think about because I’m going to have to market on social media. That has been giving me a lot of anxiety, more than anything, in this process because putting that energy, money, and effort into building a presence is hard. I know for someone like me, it is going to be tumultuous because there is a lot of not authentic stuff going on because people sell through social media. I’m not saying I think that is bad, but it is awesome to have an audience that might like what you are talking about. When it gets to the point where it is all about what you are selling and not about what is authentic to you, that is where it is a problem.When it gets to the point where it is all about what you are selling and not about what is authentic to you, that is where it is a problem. Click To Tweet
I couldn’t agree more, and that is why it has been amazing having you on the show. One of the greatest ways is to truly express yourself and be authentic if you choose to. Not everybody who comes on this show taps into authenticity. They are not as transparent as you. I already see that. I have seen that through this episode. I was thinking to myself, “It going to be so cool to see how the pillow officially launches and the orders start.”
It would be amazing to have you back for a follow-up episode after some period of time has passed to see what did social media look like for you, how did that evolve, how did the pillow evolve, and how have you evolved alongside it. I see this as the before. You have been talking so much about a transition. We have been talking about life transitions, personal transitions, professional transitions, and all these things.
Sometimes we can’t even imagine what is going to happen on the other side of that transition. It is going to be incredible for you. Staying rooted in that authenticity is something that is a big part of my personal value. As the readers of this show know, if they have been reading for the last several months, I took a break from social media for a lot of the same reasons, Melissa. The cons outweighed the pros. I wanted to get more rooted in my authenticity. I don’t even know for sure what my presence will look like on social media, if at all. The cool thing is, with marketing, there are many avenues outside of social media we can tap into.
If the readers resonate with what Melissa’s talking about, I want to be a reminder to you both that you don’t have to do social media. If you do it, you can stay rooted in that authenticity. That was part of how Melissa and I reconnected. We had a conversation about this off of the show. I’m rooting for you to do social media authentically or make the decision to focus on other elements of marketing where you feel your authentic expression can come out. A pillow like yours needs to be received by the masses so they can all benefit from everything you have talked about. It is a disservice for them not to know about it.
It is about the right avenue for people to learn about you, your work, and the pillow, also tying in on the other things you are passionate about. You did such a great job. We talked about aliens, slaughterhouses, suicide, and all things we like touched upon briefly. I’m a big believer in sharing the wholeness of who you are. I know that can be tough in a world that is often censored. That is something many people can relate to, Melissa. Thank you for sharing where you are at now with your journey and what led you to this point. I love that you set up the email newsletter list for people. They can follow along and get notified. That is AllNightPillow.com.
Melissa, you said you don’t imagine going back to photography, but the first thing I noticed when I went to the AllNightPillow website was the gorgeous photos you took. You have such a signature style. I’m like, “I know Melissa took those.” The lighting, colors, and model you use is so Melissa. Even if you don’t pursue photography the way you used to, it shows up with your pillow, and that is amazing to see.
I leaned into the super soft and feminine, which is not my look. I feel more comfortable harder, but I like soft femininity. Now, I’m into it. The pillow is also for men, but for now, I wanted to go the girliness.
You naturally know how to brand something like that. The colors stood out to me. It did feel feminine, luxurious, fascinating, and unique. You nailed it. Going back to what I said, I can’t wait to see how this evolves because this is the beginning, Melissa. It is cool to be part of something this early.
It is scary to try to put something out there because I feel like I failed at a lot of things I tried to do. Maybe it is time for a win now. It is scary putting yourself out there. I have taken so much time and money already to try to do it. I don’t know. We will see. People are going to like it. I inside feel like it. We will find out.
I like it, and I have enjoyed hearing all the details, Melissa. I liked what you were embracing. You are acknowledging the rollercoaster of life, the perceived failures, and your desire for things to work out. You have my full support and, hopefully, the readers too.
We didn’t even talk about the body pillow you sleep with and my breakup. We didn’t talk about many other things, but it is okay. We will do another episode about breakups.
This is why we have to have a part two. We will save some things for the next episode. Was there anything we didn’t cover you are eager to dive into before we wrap up?
We will authentically end there. We will put to be continued to this conversation.
Yes, that sounds great.
About Melissa Schwartz
Melissa is a 41-year-old software engineer and photographer who has a passion for animal rights and veganism. Melissa’s interests in social networking and free and open software have led her to become an advocate for digital privacy and user freedom. She is also the inventor of an innovative anti-aging product, AllNightPillow (www.allnightpillow.com).
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