This story originally appeared in the May 2016 issue of Latina magazine.
Two head-turning makeup artists said adios to Nordstrom and hello to becoming las jefas of Melt Cosmetics.
Lora Arellano-Tovar and Dana Bomar, both 29, became instant homegirls while working the Nordstrom beauty counters. The California duo daydreamed about creating a brave new world of matte lipstick and eye shadow colors, but knew it would take time and money. Dana and Lora strategically kept their day jobs, piled up extra jobs (and cash), and created an impressive online library of edgy makeup tutorials. Lora’s TKO selfies propelled her to Instagram fame and the honor of becoming Rihanna’s makeup guru. Today, a 2-million-strong fan base can’t get enough of Melt Cosmetics.
Lora: I had already been working at Nordstrom (in Topanga, Calif.) for a few years as a manager. We worked side by side with different brands, but Dana and I instantly connected! She was someone I could count on when I was at work stressing out about meeting my sales quota. Ever since then, I knew I could talk to her and trust in her to help me through stressful moments. Dana is smart, hard-working and honest. And she’s so pretty!
DANA: It was friendship love at first sight! From day one, we bonded. Obviously, Lora is strikingly beautiful, but she’s also a beautiful person. She is genuine and honest in everything she does. We worked at Nordstrom for about two years before we started Melt.
Lora: Being la jefa means being your own boss! I don’t think we ever “clock out” (laughs)! Melt is such a huge part of our lives. We literally invested all our savings into the brand. The first five lipsticks took a little over a year to make before we launched it as a line. We thought it would just be a small Etsy shop. Little did we know Melt would completely change our lives.
Dana: We were two girls working retail so we didn’t have a crazy amount of money to invest in our project at first. I saved money from every acting job and makeup job I booked and only lived off the hourly I earned from Nordstrom. I wasn’t sure why I was saving the money at the time, but it sure came in handy once we started Melt—it was the best decision ever.
Lora: The makeup labs we’d reach out to would look at us like we were young, silly girls. They would tell us, “You don’t know what you’re getting into.” But we kept at it. We tested Melt products on ourselves. If the application, color, texture, or wearability was off we’d go back to the drawing board until we felt it was ready to be put out there.
Dana: When we first started making lipsticks we wanted to make crazy colors like blue, purple, and green, but in a matte texture. At the time, that kind of lipstick did not exist. So, it was difficult to find a lab that would take a risk on two young girls without any manufacturing experience. But we had a really strong vision and we wanted to do something crazy that hadn’t been done before! We stayed committed and eventually people started trusting our direction.
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