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Danessa Myricks Is More Than Makeup—She’s an Inspiration

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Danessa Myricks has been called “your favorite makeup artist’s favorite makeup artist.” As hyperbolic as it sounds, chances are it’s true. Over the past few years, the respected makeup artist has made vibrant, glittery waves as shoppers discovered her namesake brand in stores and online—but before that, Danessa was already a beauty industry standout.

Could it be the way that DANESSA MYRICKS BEAUTY products invite the everyday person to express themselves boldly? Or maybe it’s Danessa’s extensive product knowledge coming through in each one of her creations. Whatever her secret sauce, it’s a dynamic energy that is drawing creators and makeup enthusiasts alike to not only try her long-lasting products (that look great on literally everyone) but to learn from her as well.

With such a solid reputation, we were eager to catch up with the rising beauty mogul to discover beauty through her unique lens and hear the never-before-told story of her unique evolution.

Danessa Myricks Before the Glam

At a glance, Danessa appears to be the personification of confidence. Her beautiful locs are often pinned into a powerful mohawk-meets-pompadour style, and her Vision Flush highlight and Color Fix pigments are in crazy high demand. Yet as we ask her the question, “What has beauty meant to you over the years,” she takes a deep breath.

Like many other women, and more specifically, Black women, Danessa has had a long and complicated relationship with beauty. "Beauty has changed considerably for me from back in my early years,” she pauses. “I never considered myself attractive, and people repeatedly told me that I wasn't. I went through all of my school years being bullied about being unattractive. I think the hardest thing for me was that they were relating it to my skin tone specifically—something I couldn’t change—not that I originally wanted to.”

Unfortunately, this is not a unique perspective for girls growing up before the era of FENTY's 40 shades and counting. “When we’re young, I think we all have ideas like, ‘If I could just pinch my nose or have bigger eyes,’” Danessa continues. “But it was really hurtful as a child to hear that you’re ugly because you’re dark. On top of that, I didn’t see anybody who had dark skin that people thought was beautiful. So, I thought it must be true. Even into my thirties, and honestly, even now, I’ve struggled with it.” Danessa points to figures like Naomi Campbell and Grace Jones who gave her the occasional boost of confidence growing up, but between her struggle with acne and her wet jheri curl that lasted all through her teens, seeing herself as beautiful felt like an aspiration she hadn’t obtained.

While Danessa’s early encounters with beauty are full of mixed emotions, it wasn’t long before she discovered the power of makeup. “I started doing makeup when I was 13. Back then, it was all about fixing things and covering things up, whether it be acne or trying to look browner. It wasn't about me or expressing myself. Years later in adulthood, I started working at a publishing company, and I began to think about beauty in a different way. I was seeing models come in one way and leave another—that idea of transformation was inspiring for me. I was very attracted to how the models felt after their transformations. You could see they felt better from the inside by being painted on the outside.” 

The Art of Getting Started

For years, Danessa watched beauty transformations from afar at her corporate publishing job, until one day the company folded, and she had 30 days to figure out her next move as a mother of two. The news was jarring, but in hindsight, “All of the great successes in my life have come out of failure,” says Danessa. “They’ve come at times where I thought all was lost and I felt the most defeated.” Instead of wallowing, she used her publishing connections to start pursuing work as a makeup artist. It took plenty of cold calls and working for free, but eventually she was able to gain a reputation with those she worked with as reliable and professional—which led to more calls. Soon, Danessa started teaching makeup to the same hairstylists she once worked with as a way to empower them to do their own business. Education is still at the core of everything she does today.

“I started doing workshops, mainly with hairstylists, and at the end of the session they’d say, “Okay, what can I buy to get started?” So my entry into creating makeup was more about making the journey easier for my clients. I wasn't a product developer. I was literally just creating for the need at the moment, but during that experience of educating, especially at trade shows, other brands saw me as an expert and asked me to create for them. So I had a whole period of time where I was creating products for other brands, from drugstore brands to prestige. I think of that experience as on-the-job training. I would pretend that I knew what I didn't know, and I would learn as I was going. In that process, I discovered what it took to create a product that can be sold all over the world with millions of units, and how to make products that solved lots of problems.”

“I saw the production process as a consumer, as a makeup artist, as an educator, and then as a developer with successful billion-dollar brands. Ultimately, there was a moment where I thought, OK, I'm doing all this creating for other people, and it's not always representative of who I want to create for.I wanted to solve problems for people that were like me—that’s what gave me the confidence to move forward.”

The Power of a Pivot

Despite what it may look like, the growth of DANESSA MYRICKS BEAUTY has been gradual and organic. “Most of my customers had a relationship with me and genuinely fell in love with either me or my products. I would pack my truck up, drive to a show, and that's literally how the brand grew—through personal connections and word of mouth. But [2020] changed a lot. All of a sudden, I was being thrown into all of these Black-owned roundups, and I was grateful for it, but the new audience didn’t understand my products. So I had to really think for the first time about how to re-introduce my brand, and it was a unique growth opportunity. For most of my career, I had been speaking directly to makeup artists and industry professionals. Now I had the exciting challenge of explaining how my multi-use products could be used by the average person. It’s been amazing to see it embraced by so many people.”

While Danessa’s brand was experiencing exponential growth, something else was happening—a nationwide pandemic. “What a lot of people don’t know is that on March 2, 2020, I was running DANESSA MYRICKS BEAUTY from my home,” she explains. “It was basically a tiny living space, and everything else was my warehouse. I finally moved into my headquarters on March 3, and I was so excited. But then on March 20, everything shut down. I saw my whole life flash before my eyes. Doing business as I knew it was over. No more makeup shows. No more traveling 300 days out of the year to connect with people. I didn’t know what to do.

I started to look at my Instagram stories, and I saw all of these dope people creating with my products and really enjoying them, so I decided to create Danessa Myricks Angels. It wasn’t about followers, I just wanted to create a safe place to mentor creators and create bonds with people in a time when everybody was hungry for a hug. It was the perfect storm because by the time Sephora came around, they were there to rally behind the launch of the brand and spark more creativity.”

Leaving a Legacy of Service

Even though Danessa no longer had her trade shows to rely on during the nationwide shut downs, she continued to teach and build community through her Instagram Live series and her personalized DMB University. To her, teaching isn’t merely a hobby or a stream of income, it feels like a purpose.

“Growing up, I had a repetitive dream in which I was walking and guiding a path of hundreds, even thousands of people behind me. I never understood this dream, but I feel like I have a purpose on this planet. I’m still discovering it, even now. Right now, it’s through beauty, but I also really try to pay attention to things that bring meaning to others— like my Angels program or just connecting on a deeper level.

What inspires me to keep going is knowing that even though I feel like I should be doing more, there are people who are inspired by what I’ve been able to do up until this point. I give them juice. They need to move forward, so I have to move forward.”

Danessa’s next forward step? Skin! “2021 showed me a lot of different ways to play with color and I’m still not done,” she shares. “But next year, I'm going to be sharing in a lot of different ways and playing with complexion. That's the core of who I am. I've always been obsessed with skin, so the brand is going to be taking another journey in that direction in 2022, and I'm so excited to share.”

Feel the Magic Sooner

Danessa has simple advice for others on their journey: Do it scared. “I've been scared my whole life,” she says. “I'm still scared every single day. But with maturity, you learn that being scared is fine. You feel it, but you get braver—and bravery has been a part of my growth. I've had the same skill sets the whole time, I just wasn’t always brave enough. As you get towards the second half of your life, where I am, you know that time is upon you, so things feel more urgent.”

She’s adamant (and knows from experience) that if you can just embrace that sense of urgency, that moment something makes you feel good or inspires you, it will change your life. “Believe in that feeling and just understand that success isn't linear,” she adds. “Sometimes, it’s 12 steps forward, and then ten steps back, and then two more steps forward—but that’s progress! I’d tell people to feel the magic sooner because the world needs them. The world needs their ideas, and they are important. Just take a chance.”

Interested in reading more Beauty Through The Black Lens? Read how celebrity stylist Lacy Redway is changing the beauty industry. Want in on all the IPSY Glam Bag fun? Take our Beauty Quiz now to get started. Already an Ipster? Refer your friends to earn points, which you can use toward products. Either way, don’t forget to check us out on Instagram and Twitter @IPSY.

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About the author
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Kindra Moné
Kindra Moné is a writer and content creator who works with brands and magazines to create culturally relevant fashion and beauty content. She is also the founder of The Moné Edit: a community and podcast at the intersection of style and wellness.
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Article Last Updated November 29, 2021 12:00 AM