“Makeup isn’t just about making cosmetics – there’s something artistic about it.”
Cece Meadows, the native founder of Prados BeautyArmy wife and mother of four, is well versed in balancing the practical and the poetic.
And that made all the difference.
During her journey from financial professional to beauty australiabusinessblog.com, Meadows’ success has come not only as a product of her financial prowess and generosity, but also the creativity that comes with being a ‘Pisces’, published poet and makeup artist. .
“I saw the marginalization of my people and BIPOC women in the community. I wanted to create a space for us in that sector.”
Before being beauty founder and CEO, Meadows spent 15 years in finance. It was a place Meadows’ “very humble beginnings” hadn’t necessarily prepared her for—her financial literacy came from her college education and professional experience.
Then a cancer diagnosis turned Meadows’ world upside down. Fighting the disease made her not feel and look her best, Meadows says, and she discovered makeup as a way to cope. She soon realized that she could share her strength with others who were going through a similar experience.
“I would take my little make-up kit to the Ronald McDonald House and do make-up on children who had chemo and women who had breast cancer [treatments]Meadows says, “really connecting with people at a different level in a different industry, and then it grew into what I’ve been doing with products now.”
From there, Meadows continued to explore the industry, eventually becoming a New York Fashion Week beauty influencer and makeup artist. It was in that moment that she realized how narrowly defined beauty standards were.
“I saw the marginalization of my people and BIPOC women in the community,” Meadows explains, “whether that’s the beauty community or the New York Fashion Week scene — the lack of representation of people who looked like me and the same. background So I wanted to create a space for us in that industry.”
Meadows, whose ancestors are the Yoeme and Nʉmʉnʉ people, of present-day Sonora Mexico, Texas, Arizona and New Mexico, saw an opportunity to draw attention to the cultures and stories so often overlooked in the mainstream. . She would start a beauty brand to bring them to light.
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“I’m hopeful for the day when BIPOC women and BIPOC beauty brands can walk into rooms and get million-dollar funding.”
Meadows started Prados Beauty from her daughter’s nursery, tinkering with her website and fulfilling orders while breastfeeding.
Bootstrapping was part of the brand’s ethos from the beginning: Meadows spent the $150 she earned from a makeup appointment on the trademark and copyright filing. “It costs a lot more than that,” she notes, “but that was the first seed I planted for my business.”
Money has always been the company’s biggest challenge, Meadows says. She sometimes jokes that her employees earn more than she does because she has not been able to pay herself more than once.
“I’m hopeful for the day when BIPOC women and BIPOC beauty brands can walk into rooms and get millions of dollars and it won’t be a problem,” Meadows says. “Because [today]less than 1% of BIPOC-owned brands can close multi-million dollar deals.”
Funding aside, Meadows was also surprised by how much she still didn’t know about building a business from the ground up. With no entrepreneurs in her family to turn to for guidance, Meadows had to navigate the ins and outs of so many things on her own, like starting an LLC.
Fortunately, she has also found a supportive community willing to help along the way. “People really want to see” [Prados Beauty] flourish and succeed,” Meadows says.[Those people] sharing their time and space is also a beautiful thing to experience.”
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“No matter how big Prados gets, I want to have this promise on purpose – not just with words.”
Initially, Prados Beauty was a small operation out of necessity – selling just two products, eyelashes and brush sets.
But as so often these days, social media has changed the game. Not only were people interested in the products, but they were also interested in supporting Meadows and its give-back initiatives.
Because the heart that launched the brand three years ago is still central to its mission. Giving back to indigenous communities and others in need, whether through donations of products or time, has remained vital – the ‘Prados Promise’. Meadows is currently the founder and president of her non-profit organization The Prados Life Foundation.
“As big as Prados gets, I want to have this promise on purpose — not just with words,” Meadows says.
When the pandemic hit in 2020, Prados Beauty funneled 50% of the profits from the first cosmetics launch to fund-raising and PPE purchases for indigenous communities that were hardest hit.
“People think it’s sales and branding and all that stuff,” Meadows says, “but to me it’s really the giving back that makes Prados what it is.”
It has made Prados Beauty what it is, and it has fueled growth: the brand is on track to be present in 600 JC Penney stores by the end of 2023.
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“Every collection we’ve released is usually something I’ve literally dreamed of.”
While the jump from finance to beauty may seem incongruous on paper, Meadows says she’s always had an innate artistic drive — one that continues to fuel her creatively in business.
“It was a huge pivot and an exciting journey, but also something that not many Indigenous people have the opportunity to do,” Meadows says, “so I’m absolutely honored to be one of the first to do it and [able to] clear the way for those who come after.”
Bringing that creativity to life on a daily basis has been extremely rewarding, Meadows says, allowing her to draw on what inspires her most — such as her dreams — to create new products and designs.
“Every collection we’ve put out is usually something I’ve literally dreamed about: color scheme, shape, the native woman standing next to a horse,” Meadows says.
After having a dream, Meadows wakes up and quickly sketches it. It feels natural to her, the culmination of the rich history she wants to bring to the fore.
“As an artist and as a person who comes from a culture that is very vibrant and beautiful, very colorful, a culture that is filled with artisans, it doesn’t surprise me that it’s something I can make a story out of, and then share it with the world — all while sharing the story and beauty of being an Indigenous person,” she says.
The latest collection of Prados Beauty is launched today. Called “Sagrado,” which translates to “sacred,” the products come packaged in deep orange and purple with a floral hummingbird design.
Image Credit: Courtesy of Prados Beauty
Meadows is also grateful for the opportunity to collaborate with other Native artists and designers, including Steven Paul Judd (Kiowa and Choctaw), Kassie Kussman (Cherokee), and Lil Coyote (Shoshone-Bannock).
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Meadows’ journey to beauty founder has been unique and colorful, and for aspiring entrepreneurs ready to turn their dreams and passions into reality, she has some hard-won words of wisdom.
“Consult with other entrepreneurs,” Meadows says. “That’s something I wish I had done. I’ve been around owners and CEOs my entire adult life, worked in finance, but never actually sat down with them to ask them about their challenges and why. And so that would be my best advice: contact some entrepreneurs in the same industry and pick their brains.”