Former supermodel Iman, now a business cosmetics diva and author, recently came to town to share her insights about her life, her career and her relationships as part of The Sun's Smart Talk Women's Lecture Series.
The statuesque Iman was charming, funny, yet serious, in discussing her journey in life at the Meyerhoff Symphony Hall in May. She is a woman who is comfortable "in her own skin" and says that's the key to being beautiful and successful.
The mother of two -- a 25-year-old and a 4-year-old -- and wife of rocker David Bowie divided her insights into a three-pronged message underscored by highlights from her life, morsels of wisdom and questions from an attentive audience:
Celebrate your own beauty
"The most celebrated beauty is the most insecure. [But] beauty is the confidence to believe in yourself," she says. "What is the secret to beauty? It's learning how to be comfortable in your own skin."
Embrace change and challenge
Iman turned 50 in July. Age is not an issue for her. "Go with it. Don't fight it. Learn something from it," she says.
She has always grown from her experiences, beginning with her childhood remembrances as a refugee from war-torn Somalia. Discovered by a photographer while attending college, Iman was unaware of fashion and makeup and fell into modeling. "Seeds of change become steppingstones to move forward," she says.
When she decided to leave modeling in 1989, "Change found me and I didn't look for it," she says. "One day I woke up and said enough."
Prepare for the second ... or third act (of life)
With a worldwide persona and money in the bank, Iman has dedicated her second career to helping with humanitarian efforts, starting two cosmetics and skin-care companies, and writing books.
Among her credits is a documentary she did in the 1990s, which was a historical perspective on her life and Somalia, her war-ravaged country.
She took what she learned as a model and turned it into a business. "I learned about foundations," she says. "All those years, I did my own makeup. They didn't have foundations for me."
And that's how she ended up in the cosmetics and skin-care business.
She introduced IMAN Cosmetics and skin-care collection in 1994. Six years later, she launched I-IMAN Makeup.
Her first book I Am Iman, an autobiography, came out in 2001. Her second book, The Beauty of Color: The Ultimate Beauty Guide for Skin of Color, is due out this fall.
"Success is not about what you are. It is about how you inspire others," she said to a packed audience of mostly women. "I judge myself by what I do. ... I judge myself by my character and what I do for others."