One day, when April Lockhart was in kindergarten, she removed her prosthetic hand from her left arm and flung it across the classroom. It was a spontaneous act of frustration, but it was also symbolic of something much larger, something fundamental, that little Lockhart had subconsciously realized at only five years old: that she didn’t need to change her body in order to feel whole.
“The prosthetic was almost more hindering to me because it just felt like a piece of plastic,” she recalls. “I just remember it not feeling like me.”
Lockhart works in partnerships at popular clean beauty brand Ilia, and is also a lifestyle influencer with her own growing following. She was born without her left hand, and that is part of who she is—but it’s hardly her whole story. As a result, Lockhart’s Instagram profile doesn’t shy away from her disability, but it doesn’t center around it, either. The message? That we all contain multitudes, that our identities are complex, and that we are more than our physical selves.
“I don’t want that to define me; I don’t want to be a disability influencer where that’s all I talk about, because there are so many other aspects to me,” Lockhart says via video from her home in Nashville. “And it doesn’t affect my day-to-day life—I do everything normally, and I’ve found my own way to adjust things. But it’s also a part of me, so I think it’s important to talk about.”
Self-acceptance is a lifelong marathon, but Lockhart is a true inspiration on that front. Still, she admits she’s gone through phases with her body, at times feeling insecure to wear certain types of clothing that showed off her arms. Now, though, she dons whatever she wants, and posts photos in those outfits to social media with pride.
“It’s a journey, is the key thing—I don’t know that you ever arrive,” she says of self-love. “But I think that’s with everyone, with whatever their insecurity is. I think that having people around you who really know you and see your heart is really important, because they’ll be the people who remind you, ‘What are you worried about?’”
For Lockhart, that includes her husband, who she married just before the coronavirus pandemic hit (and who took this article’s accompanying photos). They were living in New York at the time, but decided to relocate to Nashville for a change of pace. The move forced Lockhart to think about home in a new way—not only because she was working remotely (Ilia is based in Laguna Beach), but because she had to fill an entirely new space.
“I really started thinking about every piece that went into my home,” she says. “I’m officially working remotely for the foreseeable future, so that was extra important to me to create a space that I was excited to be in, that was bright, that was clean, that was safe, and that inspired me in some way.” Still, it’s been a slow and steady process to furnish the place; she admits that she spent the first few months working on a box until her desk arrived.
For her, home is about ritual: coffee in the morning, open windows while she’s working, cooking at night, entertaining (when it’s safe to do so). “I love making charcuterie plates; I pour wine for everyone; I’m the biggest hostess,” she says. “I curate a playlist ahead of time. I love creating a safe space for people to come into.” That also means using scent to set the mood. When she’s working, she likes to put Lemon, Grapefruit, or Golden Blend in her vitruvi Move Diffuser or Stone Diffuser. At night, she’s diffusing “pure Lavender always.” For entertaining, she likes something seductive like Moonbeam Blend or fresh Pacific Blend. It’s all about using different scents to signal different moments of her day—which is especially important when her home is also her workplace.
Speaking of work, Lockhart spends her days building relationships and growing Ilia’s community of clean beauty enthusiasts through influencer and brand partnerships (“I live in my email,” she jokes). Her personal favorite products include the NightLite Bronzing Powder, Multi-Stick, Super Serum Skin Tint SPF 40, and Limitless Lash Mascara (the “Holy Grail,” truly). She’s a self-described clean beauty junkie, and her flawless skin glows over the computer screen with softly pink cheeks—perhaps the work of the aforementioned Multi-Stick, but also likely a testament to her inherent magic. It’s not the only thing she has going for her, though.
This article appears in Natural Habitat Print Issue No. 1. Order your copy here.