By Johanna Ferreira
We rarely see enough of Indigenous representation in beauty. Cece Meadows, who identifies as a Xicana and Indigenous woman was set on changing that. In an effort to combine her passions for makeup and philanthropic work, she went from working in finance to moving to New York as a single mom to study cosmetology. Meadows became the first Native American makeup artist to head a show backstage for New York Fashion Week and eventually went on to launch her own makeup brand, Prados Beauty.
“Growing up as a Xicana and Indigenous girl, I never saw representation of my people in an accurate light,” she tells thirteen lune. “When I became a professional makeup artist and would show up in some of my traditional regalia to NYFW or professional photoshoot, I was shocked at the lack of education and awareness from models and designers of Indigenous people. I have watched companies and clothing brands appropriate our culture and designs for years and I wanted to take that back. I wanted to create a brand that was 100% inclusive, but highlighted the beauty and story of who we are today.”
Meadows, who is originally from a small farm town outside of Yuma, Arizona called Texas Hill, currently lives in Las Cruces, New Mexico. She identifies as Yaqui and Comanche and has made it her mission to amplify Indigenous voices through beauty. She wants Prados Beauty to inspire consumers to want to learn more about Indigenous culture.
“My philosophy about beauty definitely isn’t based on Plato’s theory that ‘beauty is objective.’ My beauty philosophy is simple,” she adds. “We all come from many walks of life, race, heritage, and culture. We each define beauty. Our unique looks and cultures define us as entities of what beauty actually is. It’s learning about each other. It’s finding meaning and gratitude for where we are derived from. Beauty is respect. Beauty is pride in where your ancestors come from and looked like before now.”
Get to Know – Cece Meadows
What were some of your first memories of beauty growing up?
My grandmother definitely played a huge role in my beauty journey. Growing up my grandmother always used traditional-based skincare to protect and care for her skin. She used to give us red clay from her lands in Mexico for masks. Aloe from her garden to help with scarring and discoloration. Lavender and jojoba to smooth out the skin and protect it from the sun. I used to love watching her put makeup on. She used to have to mix three different foundations at that time to find her shade but she always used lipstick for her blush, lipstick, and eyeshadow. She is just still so beautiful. She’s in her 70s and doesn’t look a day over 60.
What does self-care look like in your life?
Self-care is self-love for me. Taking the time to listen to myself and my daily needs is a daily priority for me. I tend to work myself ragged. I am my own worst critic. So when my body and my mind start telling me to slow down, I slow down. I usually take a day and get a mani/pedi, a facial, a massage. I will go home and clear my mind and spirit by praying outside in my garden. Then I’ll go back inside after a long read [with a] cup of tea and make a delicious dinner for my hubby and my babies.
What inspires you most about the beauty landscape and industry today?
I think lately is has been the beauty industry wanting to make room for faces and stories like mine that has inspired me the most. I have been on both sides of the beauty world, first starting out as a makeup artist/influencer and then as a beauty brand owner. It can be a very toxic and negative space but once you learn to disassociate yourself with that mess, you find like-minded people who are also working towards change. That changes inspires you to keep going when you feel like giving up. That circle of beauty inside and out is priceless and I’m so thankful for those who included me and share their large spaces with me.
What has been the biggest challenge in starting your business?
Funding. I have sat in so many meetings with people who all end up telling me the same thing at the end of a 2-hour conversation. They can’t seem to find a space for me and my story or we just aren’t there yet but we have something special so keep in touch. It has been so challenging. Also, the lack of guidance. I have so many questions and have so much to learn and I have been learning them by making mistakes that could totally be avoided with the right help. I’m hopeful though. I have some amazing people helping me right now and it just feels so good to trust and know that they have my best interest at heart.
What has been the biggest win thus far?
Personally for me, it has been creating a brand that is 100% inclusive but highlight my people through the beauty lens. Long we have been a story of loss, erasure and defeat. It’s a win for me every time someone purchases something from us and they help us change our communities through our givebacks and community work. Every time we gain a new follower, I get excited because it’s one more person who learns about our beautiful culture and our stories. It’s being featured in magazines and talk shows where my people get to see us on platforms and places they’ve never seen us go before.
What would you like to see more of in the beauty industry when it comes to diversity and inclusivity?
I would love to see my brand in a big box store. I would love to see other Indigenous beauty brands as well. Nothing makes me happier than seeing BIPOC people thrive and be given spaces that weren’t made for us. I would love to see the day when diversity and inclusivity isn’t a thing to do or a charity. It’s just an opportunity that arises because you work hard, make a great product and are innovative. I hate knowing that the industry thinks they are doing us a favor by giving us a position or place in their organizations so they can say they are diverse and inclusive.