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Prados Beauty Founder and CEO Cece Meadows On Creating An Impactful and Beautiful Indigenous Inspired Brand

Makeup and action work hand-in-hand at Prados Beauty.

Cece Meadows first founded Prados Beauty after seeing, and feeling, an intense lack of Indigenous representation in the makeup industry while working behind the scenes at New York Fashion Week. These interactions prompted her to take charge and bring the Indigenous experience to the world of makeup.

Since then, Prados Beauty has absolutely exploded onto the cosmetics scene. With trusty formulations and beautifully designed Indigenous centered packaging, it’s easy to see why makeup fanatics, like performer and drag superstar Trixie Mattel, are fans of the brand. 

photo courtesy of Prados Beauty

Beyond an intense commitment to delivering on fun and story-driven makeup, Prados Beauty promises to go beyond donating to Indigenous communities and causes and also focuses on volunteering within indigenous communities and uplifting Indigenous voices across digital platforms.

To get a sneak peek into Prados Beauty and their CEO and founder, Cece Meadows, we talked to her about the brand’s origins, her daily routine, and some of her current holy grails.

photo courtesy of Prados Beauty

1) How did you get into the beauty industry? 

I am an Ovarian Cancer survivor and during chemo I was in the lowest of lows. I was losing my hair at that time and my skin was so fragile.  My amazing friends were makeup artists at the MAC counter and came over one day to give me a makeover! It was at that moment that I realized makeup was such a powerful therapy tool. It helped me look how I wanted to feel! 

Life sometimes throws you challenges and moments when you feel like you cannot go on, makeup however can help transform you into the hopeful and better version of you. From that day forward I was completely in love with cosmetics and decided I would dedicate my life to painting the world beautiful. 

2) What inspired you to start your own brand?

After going into remission and years of being a local makeup artist and influencer, I took a master class in Manhattan at the New York Makeup Academy in 2018. They took graduates to NYFW and I was so excited to be a part of that! I wore a traditional ribbon skirt, my moccasins and a shirt that read “Strong, Resilient, Indigenous,” and the number of models and designers who asked “what does Indigenous mean?” was astounding. I felt like the one and only Indigenous person at these events and it was a very lonely feeling. I went home after that weekend and told my husband that there was so much work to be done. Inclusivity and diversity has historically been lacking at NYFW and in the beauty business. Designers and makeup companies appropriate not just Indigenous designs and traditional regalia, but of a mix of minority races. I wanted to change that. I wanted to be a representative of a whole nation of mixed Indigenous peoples by bringing our faces and stories to the forefront of every possible market. I wanted to be the bridge in helping to bring all BIPOC peoples to the table, to tell our stories and our truths through our lens and not that of history books who most times tell it all wrong.

3) What’s the biggest challenge you have faced as a founder?

Hands down, funding and correct representation. I have probably knocked on every single bank door in corporate America, and every time I get the door shut in my face. I decided that I was going to stop doing that, not only because I was tired of it, but also because I was tired of being hurt about it. 

On numerous occasions after presenting a beautiful and accurate to the cent presentation and projection sheet, I have been told by banks and investors that I have a beautiful story and it should be told. They take one look at the packaging and who’s on the box and suddenly it’s not marketable because it’s an actual Indigenous person representing themselves and not some appropriator with millions of dollars and social influence. 

The hardest part of asking someone else for money and backing, is the notorious question of “what happens if you default on your loan, where will we get our money from then?” These are smart questions to ask when loaning money, but why does the conversation always start with the assumption that I’ll default? Bootstrapping is the way we have been forced to go to grow my business and brand. I am happy that my husband and I have made smart decisions in diversifying our portfolios at a young age, because now we have the freedom to invest in ourselves and the business. We do it on our own terms and we do it for our people. We don’t answer to anyone and we get to give back to others through our philanthropy and successes.

The Prados Beauty team. Photo courtesy of Prados Beauty.

4) Ok, put us in your shoes. What’s an average day in your life like?

 My day usually starts at 6:00 am, as I am a proud wife of a MAJ in the US Army. Our littles go to preschool on post with my love, so I am running around getting my family ready, fed and blessed up for their day. By 7:45am my two eldest children are on the bus to school and my personal routine starts. I am usually on the bike for 30 min in the morning, I shower and then take about 30 minutes to write in my journal and pray. I put the crockpot on and head out the door by 9am for my Starbucks. Haha!

 I get to the office at about 9:15-9:30AM everyday and I am here with my team doing our day to day tasks which include designing packaging, playing with formulas, creating content, and admin stuff. By 3PM I am usually headed home for my kids to get home from school. I do homework, clean and get ready for daddy and the littles to be home by 6PM for dinner. Bedtime is at 8:30PM for the babies and then its relaxation time. I’m usually working on pressing things for the business after everyone is asleep. My normal bedtime is between 11-11:30PM. I get to sleep in on the weekends and that is always nice!

5) What are some of your favorite beauty products at the moment? 

Oh I am absolutely obsessed with OneSize beauty, Fenty Beauty, Nopalera, Ceremonia, Switch2Pure, Anove and of course Prados Beauty. These are all brands founded by BIPOC peoples and although I don’t shop exclusively BIPOC owned, these products truly help my skin and feel curated to my skin tone and type. That is always a win win in my book.

6) Plans for what’s next?

We are working on a fun launch for Pride month and already have plans for May 2022! 

Humbly and proudly, we are the first Xicana and Indigenous owned beauty brand to be sold in a mega retailer. With that comes alot of responsibility and work. Prados Beauty is in it for the generations to come and that means that we will expand our line and keep pushing the envelope when it comes to inclusivity and diversity. We may be a BIPOC owned brand who paints the world beautiful through the lens of Indigenous peoples, but importantly our brand is 100% inclusive and we create products for all. We will continue in that work and also be in more retail stores and spaces in 2022 and 2023. Very excited for the opportunities to come!

Want to check out some of Prados Beauty’s impactful and downright beautiful products? Here are our recommendations:

The Matriarch Eyeliner ($16)

photo courtesy of Prados Beauty

Prados’ ultra black eyeliner is both vegan and cruelty free. Housed in a chic and easily handled component, this eyeliner can totally be used for a chic flick or full-on Euphoria inspired graphic looks.

The Matriarch Bronzer ($25)

photo courtesy of Prados Beauty

Looking to warm up your complexion? Look no further.

Described as “bringing the same heat as the sun,” the Matriarch Bronzer is a four shade bronzing palette that can cover anything from a soft sun kissed look to an intense contour session.

The Matriarch Palette ($45)

photo courtesy of Prados Beauty

This beautifully curated palette with 30 different shades comes out of a collaboration with artist Steven Paul Judd, a Native American multihyphenate. 

A colorful mix of shimmers and mattes compliment the palette’s neutral tones, making it perfect for day-and-night usage. Did we mention the palette’s artwork is absolutely stunning? 

+Have you tried Prados Beauty?

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