mata marielle, the new-gen make-up artist changing the beauty industry from the inside out
At only 20, she has launched her own shade-inclusive make-up line and clocked up an impressive client list.
If you ever need proof that you don’t necessarily need to have a University degree and years of experience behind you to find success, let Mata Marielle be your inspiration. Just shy of 21, this up-and-coming make-up artist has already been booked on campaign jobs for brands such as Fendi, Adidas and Nike, shot editorials for titles like British Vogue and Paper, and regularly works with music acts like IAMDDB, Ray Blk, Skepta and most recently, her idol and doppelganger, Lauryn Hill.
She may be racking up a dream CV, but Mata has beauty world domination in her sights too. Last year, she turned her hand to creating her own products in a bid to plug the gaping holes left by big name brands, who, in 2019, still fail to recognise the need for shades suitable for black and dark skin tones. Mata Labs currently produces lip glosses in a whole spectrum of nudes, highlighters that in Mata’s own words look like “money”, as well as a trio of vibrant pigments inspired by Grace Jones.
She may have moved fast, but Mata’s isn’t simply a story of luck or fluke. i-D finds out how she makes things happen, her advice to would-be make-up artists, and where her empire is heading next.
What was your route into make-up artistry?
I didn’t study at all. I kinda just fell into it. When I was 19, one of my best friends needed a make-up artist for a video she was doing, and I just said I would do it to help her out. I didn’t have a proper kit, I just had loads of make-up at home. This was my first ever job and I had to do make-up on 12 women of all different ages and all different ethnicities and they actually looked incredible. I don’t know how I managed to do it without any assistants. I just tried to own it.
I was at university for a minute. I was studying creative business management but it was so dead, so rubbish. They kept on bringing in old people to speak to us and I just couldn’t relate. So I basically started doing loads of editorials and stuff but I didn’t really call myself a make-up artist until later on, I didn’t really see myself as one.
So would you say make-up artist qualifications aren’t necessary?
I have an art background, I studied art at school. So I knew colours, precision and all of that stuff, so that helped me in a way. I’m very creative. But I wouldn’t tell anyone to go study make-up. You just gotta do what you gotta do when a face is in front of you, and if you’re into it, you’ll know what to do.
What advice would you give a make-up artist who's just starting out?
Try and find someone to assist. Always say yes to work. If someone offers you a job, always say yes. Social media is powerful, but it’s all about your network. Go to lots of creative events so you can meet people, tell them about your craft, find people that want to shoot. And when you’re on a job, don’t be afraid to ask your client questions, like ‘Are you allergic to this?’ and ‘Do you like this?’ It’s your job to care for them. They are putting their trust in you to make them look good.
What’s the best thing about the beauty industry right now?
I’m really liking how make-up artists are becoming more experimental and playing around with make-up. I do love everything about the natural beat, the natural glam but I am loving that everyone is bringing in a bit of colour and getting experimental.
And what’s the worst thing?
The way certain companies are making their products. The ingredients that they put in products need to be a lot less harmful. Sometimes I get sent products from brands and I smell them and they just don’t smell like something I want to be putting on my skin. I’m all for make-up brands trying to incorporate ingredients that are actually good for the skin.
Why did you decide to create Mata Labs?
Mata Labs is make-up, but also skincare. I wanted to make products that were diverse so everyone can use them, but also make them actually good for the skin. So like the Rouge Creme, which is a cream blush for your cheeks, contains raw shea butter and cocoa butter -- all the good things that your skin actually needs. My lip gloss is non-sticky which is great because nobody likes sticky gloss. The highlights just make you look like money. It’s skincare but make-up at the same time.
What was the most surprising thing you found launching your own brand?
The reactions from people. Everyone is entitled to their own opinions, of course, but the reactions were actually so good. I realised there was a gap in the market for nude lip gloss for darker skin -- my nudes start from dark brown, which no one else was doing, but the reaction was really amazing. Make-up artists were hitting me up to get the products for their kits.
It’s not even been two years since that first music shoot, but you’ve achieved a lot. What has been your career highlight?
Working with absolute legends like Lauryn Hill has been amazing. Being in the same room as incredible people has been amazing.
I know people always say you look like Lauryn. How was it working with her?
It was amazing. When we first met, she had already seen the Vogue article about me and I had done her daughter’s make-up last year, so she had seen pictures of me and knew a bit about me, but when we met that just confirmed it all. She was warm, so welcoming, gave me a really nice hug when we met at her show. She invited me to her London show and a few weeks after that I did her make-up and we had a proper sit down and a chat. I knew from her songs she’s amazing but to be in her presence was such a luxury, and I never thought I would get that opportunity. I’m so blessed.
What beauty spots in London do you go to?
If I was gonna do a facial or mask I would do it myself at home. I’ve got all the products but if I want to go and get my nails done, I just go to Beautystack in Kings Cross. I’ve just come from there and my nails look absolutely major. Sharmadean [founder of Beautystack and WAH nails] is absolutely incredible. All the advice she has given me has just been amazing. Love her!
What legacy would you like to leave on the beauty world?
I just want Mata Labs cosmetics to keep going. There’s so much I want to do. It’s not just going to be a make-up range, it’s going to be a make-up school as well. I want to go into schools to teach kids how to do make-up after school. I’m passionate about helping kids be as creative as they possibly can.