Every Monday Shop Latinx celebrates a mujer who inspires us and their community through arts, education, tech, and business. Meet Mel Daniel Sandoval, a Mexican-American entrepreneur and freelance makeup artist.
1. How long have you worked in the makeup/fashion industry? How did you first get your foot in the door?
My first job in cosmetics was 12 years ago, when I began working at a makeup counter. 7 years ago is when I got my first job in fashion, when I began assisting various makeup artists at a well known agency in LA/NY.
2. You were one of the MUAs for Beyonce’s Superbowl performance last year! What was that experience like?
Going to the Super Bowl was pretty surreal, it isn’t a place I’d ever thought I’d find myself, but it was amazing to be standing on the field during rehearsals and during the actual halftime performance. Sir John, whom is Beyoncé’s Makeup artist brought me on to do Formation and Lemonade, and I couldn’t be more grateful for him giving me these opportunities, it was all an extremely rewarding experience.
3. What are some of the challenges you’ve faced working in the makeup/fashion industry? How do you overcome them?
It was hard trying to find a place for myself. I never wanted to come off as too Latinx, or too feminine, or too outspoken. I took a lot of shit, from agents and one agency in particular because I was hoping that after I proved myself they were going to give me a chance. In reality, they tried one last time to take advantage of me and when I finally did so much as ask a question, I was black listed. This particular instance left me sobbing by myself on a street corner in TriBeCa, questioning if standing my ground was the right move; of course it was, but at the time I wasn’t quite sure.
Maneuvering your way through a freelance career can be trying at times and so rewarding at others. When you’re putting yourself out there and your personal work out there, it’s challenging to not take the experiences, when the door is shut in your face, so personal. In the end I realized that people and situations that don’t suit me are only weeding themselves out, and the more comfortable with being who am and vocal I am about what I want, the better it’s been for me in the long run, both personally and professionally.
4. How would you describe your personal style? What are your go-to accessories?
My personal style, I’m not really sure. I think I encompass a lot of both of my parents. My mom had some fashion outfits going on in her day, boy, and my dad, he was a cholo. I take from both of them. I think when I was younger I wanted to be like my dad in a lot of ways, so I still carry myself in ways similar to his demeanor, and occasionally take some Tres Flores through my hair with a finger comb haha. Also, I’m finding ways to mix my identity into my wardrobe. I wore my grandfather’s mariachi pants out one night, they’re adorned with real silver down the sides and probably weigh about 10lbs, and are a complete work of art. In addition to them looking great, I also felt really proud wearing them, because it’s how my grandfather made a life for himself here and a part of my history.
5. You have some really dope tattoos. Tell us about the ones tatted on your ankles.
Thanks! The tattoos on my ankles I’ve had for about 10 years now. They say “Mi Vida Loca” in cursive. Not that I was ever that hard, but life at some certain instances sure was. I didn’t have a clear path or know exactly where I was going to end up, but everyday I still got up, went to work and tried to figure my shit out. So now I can look at it and just think “damn, look how far things have come” and I feel good about that.