Cece Meadows, 35, is the Chicana/Indigenous founder and CEO of Arizona-based cosmetics brand Prados Beauty. She opens up to the Sunday Edit about growing up with a lack of BIPOC representation in the media, the challenges and benefits of building her business and her new partnership with Native American artist Steven Paul Judd launching on Indigenous People’s Day (October 12). In our commitment to continue to celebrate and support BIPOC brands, read on for this inspiring story on how Prados is changing the beauty game.
Growing up as a half-Chicana, half Native American (Yaqui and Comanche) in a small farm town in Roll, Arizona, I was very aware of the lack of representation of Native people who looked like me. From my appearance, it was always assumed that I was “Mexican.” It wasn’t until I was 30 years old that I saw an Indigenous woman in the public spotlight without being oversexualized.
It was in 2015 when a First Nations Cree woman, Ashley Callingbull, was crowned Miss Universe in 2015. It was an emotional, yet exciting moment for me. I remember watching the crowning while holding my young son and thinking, “we not only have been robbed of our lands, our culture, our beauty, our stories and our people but now we have to compete for a crown that we have always worn.”
It was also that moment that I was determined to learn everything I could about my heritage and my culture. I immersed myself in the stories about my family history thanks to my parents and grandmother. I learned from my mother and relatives about the struggles they had to overcome, and they all stemmed from generational trauma. Traumas like sexual abuse, alcoholism, addiction and sadly, depression and suicide — all of which are sadly common things Natives are still struggling with today. It was a sad story to hear and a hard lesson to learn, but I keep hope that our generational traumas end with this generation.
Education, manners, the practice of traditional ways and stories start at home. I try really hard to educate my children on who they are and where they come from. I do a lot to ensure that my children don’t ever have to deal with the traumas that my ancestors and I had to overcome. I teach them the truth about what Native Peoples have gone through and are still struggling with today. In public schools, you, unfortunately, aren’t really taught the truth about the events that truly unfolded in the United States against Native Peoples. So when my people don’t see ourselves in the mainstream, we make our own way. We support our own, we hype up our own, we become this secret society of creativity and artistic talent that the world fails to see. But we see, we know, and the acknowledgment of our own becomes enough. Because I mean what else are we going to do? Disappear? Never. Our generation has become a fierce generation, filled with hunger and audacity to believe and know that we are worthy of conquering spaces we have been told for hundreds of years we didn’t belong in.
Makeup is the universal language of unity.
This is why I created my beauty brand Prados. Our followers (which grew to 11K on social media within our first year of launching) are the most amazing people. We have shipped orders all over the world and it really blows me away that we can coexist and have a love for a common thing that brings us together.
We specialize in makeup brushes, mink and synthetic lashes, makeup accessories (we have mini mirrors coming out soon!). We are also doing a collaboration with the amazing Native American (Kiowa-Choctaw) artist Steven Paul Judd to be released on Indigenous People’s Day (October 12). I feel like his art is a perfect fit for our brand because he takes everyday things like cartoons, television shows and movies we grew up watching, and indigenizes it. He takes action figures like the Hulk and puts braids on him and calls him the “Indigenous Hulk.”
My boys love that poster I have hanging in their room because they identify with it. I feel like he always tries to create art that we can associate with and see ourselves in. He designed the packaging for our very first collection drop. It will include our very first eye shadow palette, blush, highlight, lipsticks and mini LED mirrors. Everything in the collection will be priced at $40 and below. It is always important for me to have affordable price points. One thing I remember growing up as a kid was not being able to afford things that I felt I needed to have as a budding makeup artist.
It’s always been important to me as a businesswoman to remember to give back to my community and people. We donate 50% of our profits back to Native American communities, veterans and children with special needs. Both personally and professionally, I remember every disappointment when I just needed support to get me through tough situations. So I always promised myself during my prayer times that if I ever found myself in a position where I could live comfortably and my family was taken care of, I was going to help people — especially right now during the pandemic. I have raised over $20K K to purchase PPE for Native American communities all over the US, Mexico and Canada. We even got a request for help with PPE from the Amazon and that felt awesome to be able to help. In addition, we buy kids shoes for back-to-school season, clothes, jackets and school supplies. We pay rent for single moms, college tuition and living expenses. We even threw a baby shower last year. People find us through social media and it’s just been an amazing ride being in a fortunate position to help people.
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It’s here! I couldn’t wait to share anymore!! This is our beautiful collab with @stevenpauljudd 💜 Pretty nose from the Cheyenne Nation and Stampede from the Dakota Nation are the inspo behind the artwork. They have amazing stories! October 12th is Indigenous Peoples’ Day in the United States. Here at Prados Beauty we celebrate the Resilience of all Indigenous Peoples throughout Turtle Island. Since 1492 our existence, lands and traditions have been tested and tried through genocide, war and systematic erasure. We are still here, surviving and striving for greatness! Prados Beauty & @stevenpauljudd Have come together to create a collection for the people. May you always see beauty in yourself, your story and your culture. 50% of all profits from this collection will go back to Indigenous Communities throughout Turtle Island. Pre Order begins Oct 9th! And the collection officially drops Oct 12th on Indigenous Peoples’ Day! PROUDLY INDIGENOUS. UNAPOLOGETICALLY BEAUTIFUL. #PRADOSBEAUTYXSTEVENPAULJUDD #PradosBeauty #StevenPaulJudd #PradosxStevenPaulJudd #IndigenousPeoplesDay #ProudlyIndigenous #LandBack #HonorTheTreaties
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Starting my own company has opened so many doors. We are currently working on the Prados Life Foundation. It will be a non-profit that will continue to do what we do now but on a bigger scale. We want to start building homes on reservations, purchase solar panels and water systems. Our hope is to have everything in place at the end of this year.
I’m so happy that brands like mine are finally being recognized in the mainstream media, but I’m also so sad that it’s taken America watching a Black man die in broad daylight for BIPOC individuals and brands to gain acknowledgment. I have been watching brands and people of influence talk about doing better when it comes to inclusivity and diversification, but as the months passed, I see a lot of people and brands go back to “business as usual.” This is an opportunity to let events like this drive authentic and lasting change — not just for the momentary social media “likes.” We all need to do our part to keep the momentum and conversations going.
As told to Christa Lee.