Our featured partner this week is the fabulous Alex Mendez-Kelly, owner of OKC’s “intoxicating beauty experience,” The Makeup Bar. With a makeup consultant’s approach full of fun, innovation, and common sense, Mendez-Kelly also specializes in skincare, body, and fragrance products.
She gave us fascinating insight into her philosophy and vision. Check it out:
In 10 years, The Makeup Bar has become a popular destination in Oklahoma for makeup and skincare. What inspired you to open the shop?
I have been in the beauty biz for 34 years, and The MakeUp Bar has been in Wilshire Village at Wilshire and North Western for almost 17 years. The MakeUp Bar came about in the 1990’s actually. I owned a salon at the time and I had a station I worked out of doing makeup with a private room in the back. As I would head back to wax or facial, I would leave makeup goodies for clients to see and I would say, “I left you some lipstick on the makeup bar!” It stuck and we went with it. As a kid I always loved makeup, and when adults would ask what I wanted to be when I grew up, I told them I wanted to own a store with lots of lipstick. It seemed really random for a seven-year-old to say, but I knew what I was talking about.
In the ’90’s, all the big cosmetics were NOT interested in coming to Oklahoma and certainly not to a salon. I mean, really! SO I started to scheme on how I could A) Try to convince these companies that Oklahoma was a viable market and B) Try to work around the salon establishment. That is where the retail-only location – before other stores were here dedicated to beauty – was born. I knew I wanted to be in a niche area, like Western Ave. The Sameras, owners of Wilshire Village, saw our vision, and here we are 17 years later! In the second year of The MakeUp Bar, we introduced our spa element. We have four rooms now where we perform cutting-edge facial treatments as well as spray tans, face and body waxing, makeup lessons, and makeup applications for bridal parties. We also enjoy having after-hours events that focus on different facial treatments and makeup trends.
How do you guide a new client that comes into your shop and seeks makeup advice?
When a new guest walks into The MakeUp Bar, we encourage them to look around a little first. It can be overwhelming! Once we figure out if they need skincare, cosmetics, body care, hair care, or perfume, we try to focus in by asking questions about how much time they like to spend on self care. That can determine how many products, as well as their needs and budgets. We want our clients to feel relaxed and not like they are being oversold! The beauty of coming to the MakeUP Bar, no pun, is that we don’t adhere to quotas. We don’t have to sell you the latest colors just because its popular. We sell you what you need from whatever company we have. If you want everything to “match” we can certainly do that, but we don’t have to.
Everything in the boutique has personally been tested by me. I do loads of research, we especially like indie-owned brands, and ones with great stories behind them! I love getting to know them, the creators, the ma and pa’s behind these brands, trying to get better products out into the market. Sometimes it works and sometimes it fails, but man, when they make it, it is so exciting to see them grow!! We want to champion these small brands, just the way we hope our community champions us!
Can you tell us about some of the new product lines that you have available?
We are especially proud of the last 12 brands we have brought on board. They are all clean brands. Some are organic and some are green. All these terms can be confusing, but the important thing to remember is that they are formulated without harmful, carcinogenic ingredients. In 26 seconds, 67% of what we have put onto our skin is absorbed. This is something to think about next time you put a cream on your face you bought on Amazon. Some of these new brands available are Odacite,` Mun, Rituel de Fille, Vapour, Josh Rosebrook, Lilylolo, Fitglow, Leland Francis (creator is from Oklahoma).
Why do you support Allied Arts through participation in the OKCityCard Partnership?
We love supporting Allied Arts and the OKCityCard. It makes me feel like we are, in some small part, contributing to the awareness of the great art scene that has been growing in OKC for several years now. Allied Arts supports so many communities and such a wide range of creative mediums through such organizations as OKCMOA, OKC Ballet, OKC Philharmonic, deadCenter Film, and so many smaller museums like the Mabee-Gerrer Museum in Shawnee and the Pollard Theater in Guthrie. It also provides opportunities to kids and other burgeoning artists that would have trouble finding the right direction, either with mentoring programs and scholarships. We feel strongly that these programs enrich all of us and our neighborhoods. Wow, if we can help with that, we are all about it. We feel honored to have been asked to be a part of it.
What do the arts mean to you? Why are they important for our community?
Without art, we have no culture and without that, I don’t know who we are. Art can set the tone for the mood of a city; it’s how we express who we are. My husband, Joe and I, feel very strongly that the arts are just as important as the engineering, law, and education professions. Arts are an outlet for kids in crisis or for therapy. Being able to find an art form that you can express yourself in is liberating. Studies show that it helps the other areas of your life as well. I think the question should be not ‘why do we support Allied Arts,’ but ‘how can we not?!’ How can’t everybody?
Is there anything else you would like to add?
The thing I love about working with Allied Arts is the fact that they take the time to reach out to local businesses. We are huge supporters of shopping, eating and doing local. The actions can be small, but the impact it creates can be exponential! Buy visiting and spending money at one local place a week, YOU, the individual, can make huge strides on the viability of that local business. Not to mention that those taxes stay in our community at a rate of almost 2 and half to one. That can be the difference in helping our schools thrive.
The MakeUp Bar has been named one of Lucky Magazines’ “best boutiques in North America” and has been profiled in Women’s Wear Daily, along with numerous regional newspapers and magazines.
The Makeup Bar is located in the Wilshire Village shopping center at 7632 N Western Ave, Oklahoma City, OK 73116. You can reach them at 405.810.1226 and on their website at www.themakeupbar.com. The shop offers 10% off products with your OKCityCard.