This Medford native went from a bad breakup to creating a makeup accessory line that’s now selling around the globe.
“People are like, you’re an overnight success story, and I’m like, No!” said the founder and CEO of Breakups to Makeup.
While the concept of printing makeup-inspired quotes and graphics on accessories might seem simple, as is often the case, its inventor had years of experience in the pertinent industries first. For Velez, she’s worked for top makeup companies, taught college students, and partook in New York Fashion Week 10 seasons straight.
Her master’s degree in art therapy and experience in counseling troubled young women through makeup artistry also helped influence her new company and its mission.
But before we go further, let’s delve into that life changing breakup:
“It was really unexpected in my mind; we were looking for engagement rings and all of that,” Velez said. “I didn’t expect it to happen and I was completely thrown off my game. I didn’t want to do anything. I didn’t want to go anywhere. I was in a dark place.”
But there was one thing that made her feel better: working with makeup.
“Makeup was the only thing that got me out of bed,” she said. “So because of that, I fell in love with makeup even more — more than words can say — because that was how I expressed myself during that time when I didn’t want to do anything else.”
So, now you know the circumstances through which this popular slogan was born:
Love Raised Me, Lipstick Saved Me
“This was my first,” Velez said while holding a makeup clutch bearing the slogan alongside an image of lipstick that she designed. (She designs the inside of the bags as well.)
More empowering, makeup-centered phrases soon followed.
I would cry but my mascara is designer
I’m only helpless while my nails are drying
Please, I can’t even commit to a lipstick
“I was looking to create something that was kind of like a fashion piece, but for makeup artists we have to wear these things; we have to use things in our kit,” she explained.
Before Velez, those kits were blank.
“I wanted to make something that spreads a message when you’re using it,” she said.
Velez said her company really took off after she landed a coveted booth at The Makeup Show in New York City in May 2013.
“Things went nuts, because artists would come up to us and say, ‘What is this? We need this,’” she said.
Among the shoppers that day were representatives for Sephora.
Just a few months later, Velez and those and other Sephora reps were on the phone, making plans.
“I think that first order was 80,000, 100,000 [clutches],” she said. “And they’re still selling them.”
Her pieces — which are not just for professionals but also makeup junkies — can also be found at the Nylon fashion magazine shop and Urban Outfitters online, as well as her own breakupstomakeupshop.com.
And as Velez and her life changes, the phrases change too. For instance, she just became a mother last month.
Hence, the latest:
mommy’s makeup my rules
And though the words and art might change, the true message never will.
That is, makeup can mean strength during times of adversity.
“I felt a lot of us in the industry didn’t realize how powerful makeup was for us. And that makeup artistry is a real job and a powerful art that people don’t know about,” she said.
“Now makeup designs on bags is becoming a big thing,” she continued, “and it was my company that started [the trend] and to me that is just surreal.”