From IC to CEO: Creating a brand that helps others shine

Last February, Schinequa L. Brazier ’14 was focused on finishing her master’s degree in exercise science and using essential oils and other natural ingredients to manage the stress of her busy life.

This year, Brazier is founder and CEO of a growing ecommerce company — Leapling Radiant Body Care, LLC., an all-natural beauty brand that is focused on helping people unlock their skin’s inherent radiance. The business is a reflection of Brazier’s passions; even the naming is personal — based on her unique birthday during a leap year. 

While the role of CEO is a somewhat unexpected destination in the young scholar’s career path, it’s also an obvious fit in many ways. Brazier says she has always been drawn to finding and trying natural remedies and products. She exudes energy and excitement as she speaks about her business. She obviously loves helping others find natural solutions to their skin and wellness issues. That desire to help others is a big part of her company’s origin story. 

Schinequa L. Brazier ’14

“I was already using lavender and natural ingredients to create soaps that made me feel calmer,” she recalls. “My sister was having an issue with dry patches of skin on her face and nothing she was using to treat it was working. She asked if I could come up with a natural solution.” 

Within a week of using the special soap Brazier formulated, her sister’s skin issue was gone.

Eventually, through word of mouth and social media, Brazier’s “magic soap” generated a buzz. Even the high school girls that Brazier coached in volleyball heard about it and wanted to try it. 

“My phone started blowing up,” she explains. “After a while, it became overwhelming. I have always been drawn to the idea of starting my own business, and I began to think this may be my opportunity.” 

While from the outside it may look like Brazier just had a hobby that took off, there is a lot more to her startup story than just making magic soap. She says the past year has been full of ups and downs, plus a lot of hard work and challenges that have tested her resilience. 

From the start, Brazier knew she wanted to run a business with the same high standards she applies to other areas of her life. She never cuts corners, even when that means spending hours researching a new ingredient or building her website herself — a task definitely outside of her comfort zone. 

But Brazier clearly has a passion for business — and for learning new skills. As a student at Illinois College, she studied chemistry and was involved on campus. She was a member of Sigma Phi Epsilon, the Yates Fellowship Program and the Black Student Union. Today, she regularly draws on these experiences as the leader and voice of her company. Many of the traits that have made her a growing success — like her confidence, effective communication skills and ability to connect with people — were nurtured on the campus of Illinois College. 

“It was a great experience,” she says of her time at IC. “I was able to have new experiences that I never expected. I grew a lot.”

While she has had many high points as a CEO, Brazier has also faced personal tragedy, including the death of her oldest adopted brother in February 2020 and the unexpected loss of both of her grandparents to COVID-19. She says these significant losses have led her to value natural wellness solutions even more. She also persevered by focusing on how she can make a difference in the lives of others.

“I love the fact that so many people are ordering the products and embracing the beauty of their natural skin. These products have also helped me work through my own anxieties, but knowing they are helping others, too — that is really important,” she says. 

During her entrepreneurial journey, Brazier has found several like-minded collaborators who believe in her mission, including a photographer who was able to bring Brazier’s vision to life. The photographer captured the stunning images of Brazier, along with her family members with Leapling products, featured on the company’s website. Brazier has also recently partnered with other brands to get her products into brick and mortar stores throughout the region. 

You have to have the right mindset going into entrepreneurship that you really want it.
Schinequa L. Brazier ’14

Just like during her days as a student at IC, Brazier is always looking for opportunities to learn and grow. She recently moved to Georgia and plans to represent her brand at the upcoming White Label World Expo this fall in New York. There, Leapling Radiant Body Care will be among the thousands of online sellers, suppliers and buyers from across the globe to participate. She hopes the experience will lead to new partnerships and chances to grow. 

While Brazier acknowledges that running a small business can be discouraging, being invited to the expo is the kind of break that keeps her going. She has some simple advice for those students who are considering entrepreneurship: Be prepared to persevere during very difficult times and to celebrate when you can. 

“You have to have the right mindset going into entrepreneurship that you really want it,” she said. “The truth is there will be days where all your money and time go into the business and you don’t see the results right away. It won’t happen overnight. But just keep working and you will get there.”

To learn more about Schinequa L. Brazier ’14 and Leapling Radiant Body Care, LLC, visit