Gen-Z make up artist Mata Marielle on imposter syndrome and building her empire

We meet the 21-year-old rising star changing the world of beauty.

With a unique approach and glossy aesthetic, Marielle AKA Mata has spun the beauty world on its head. Lauryn Hill, Young Thug and NAO are all fans, and she’s built up an enviable CV with the likes of Fenty, Adidas, and Nike, so it’s no surprise Mata went from a student to noise maker turned beauty brand owner in just a few years.

Taking on her first job whilst studying Design Management and Cultures at LCC, Mata wasn’t satisfied with what academia had to offer. Fast-forward three years, and she now spends her time between London and LA on shoots, on tour, consulting and producing beauty products in her family home. University wasn’t for her, and the beauty industry is pretty glad about it. Having been nominated in the Dazed 100 and described as ‘magic’ by British Vogue, it is safe to say this London based MUA is one to watch.

Yet with all Mata’s accomplishments, she soon grew tired of the problematic “stuff behind the scenes”. Finding it difficult to use big brand products on darker skin tones, Mata set sights on making her own. And so she developed Mata Labs, a range of glosses and highlighters in pigments and nudes suitable for black and darker skin.

Taking on the industry one shoot at a time, Mata is creating a space for inclusivity; ensuring people of colour have more options on set. When she isn’t developing a new product or prettying the face of our favourite artists, she can be found in her Kensal Rise local drinking Jameson whiskey and ginger beer. It is here where HUNGER have a chance to pick the brain of the beauty spark in her all-black ensemble, two teeth embellished in white gold grillz and a handful of lion bars. A rare fiery, kind energy, Mata is confident but soft-spoken, and beholds an infectious laugh. Just like a true Gen-Z her lingo is a mix of Jasmin Masters, Twitter Memes and a touch of West London nuance…

Before we get started, Mata or Marielle?

Mata…or Mata De La Flame. It’s up to you *laughs*

So Mata, what was your journey in to make up?

My journey was interesting, I fell into it. My best friend, Joy Crookes, needed an MUA for a music video she was directing, so I did it. I had to do the make up on 14 women of different age groups. From then on it was just word of mouth, Instagram DM’s and now emails. I feel like I should use the word organic.

How would you describe your time at Uni?

Uni was good you know, I was so happy to get in. I worked so hard on the application *screaming, some would say this was a lie*. But when everything started happening with make-up, I really couldn’t manage both. University is great for some people but as time went on, I realised I’m more of a hands-on learner and sitting down writing essays was not for me. Don’t get me wrong it was a hard decision leaving. Boy, my mum was not happy, but shout out to Muva Mimi for understanding and firming it, trust me, I’m all over her friends WhatsApp’s now.

It’s a 7 am call time – what are you wearing?

Most likely my fav go-to black over-sized bomber jacket, shout out to Sara, OG. Then comfy black trousers, my rings and my Adidas, big up Karmen every time. Also, headphones, full blast and Young Thug on repeat. Oh, and my face always beat, period.

If you could go back and tell your past self something, what would it be?

Um. This is a hard one. I feel like the answers to this question are always so predictable. You know the standard it all going to be ok and be patient shit but honestly it is probably that. And take time, it’s all gonna be good sis.

What advice would you give to an aspiring make-up artist?

I would tell them to try and find someone to assist, take any opportunity to learn. If your friend is doing something, ask to help out, watch, learn and pick up those brushes. Also have confidence in yourself, it takes time to learn your craft. Speak to people and tell them what you’re doing. Also document what you do, I learnt a lot by taking pictures and videos of my work, and then at home I would look over and see where the was room for improvement, even if it was to use a lighter shade of red or to use round sequins instead of square ones, it was something new.

What is the story of MataLabs?

I was tired of being asked to create looks on black skin with pink and pale tone products. Sis, Pink is not our nude. I was on a shoot and a make-up brand was sponsoring; however, the products weren’t to my liking. I went back to my kit, found a gloss, foundation, gold pigment and created this magical mixture.  The model’s looked amazing. I thought to myself, I’m on to something. And yeah that’s it really, everyone on set was like girl, what is this stuff? I told them, oh just something I made. That’s the story of Mata Labs.

What is your go-to Mata Labs product on set?

At the moment I’m using the Skin Glow Highlight. It’s a dream on set, dewy golden heaven.

You’ve done so much in the past three years, from a Glamour Black beauty campaign to stuff with Fenty and working with Ms Lauryn Hill- what has been your favourite job so far?

My favourite job would have to be the Fader cover with Young Thug. It was the 20th anniversary. I was working with an amazing team; everyone was so cool. It was major, it’s so nice when the people you look up to are nice. He and his whole crew looked so dope, their look inspired me to get grillz. The whole day was amazing, honestly, Young Thug was a dream.

Do you ever get starstruck? Has there ever been time you’ve been like ‘woah this is actually happening’?

Yes definitely. Doing Young Thug’s make up and inside being a hot mess but, on the outside, playing it cool. I am a super fan man, he is so sick and lovely too, I remember being on set like fuck, fuck, fuck its bae. Proper imposter syndrome. This guy is so iconic. Can you tell I’m a super fan?

You mentioned imposter syndrome, how has this affected you in the past?

Yeah sometimes I look around and I’m like fuck how is little old Mata doing this. Am I really doing this? It’s a strange one because I know I am good at what I do but sometimes I question myself. That’s normal though right? And it’s not all the time, it just catches me sometimes. I love my job though; every day is different. I meet so many nice and kind people, they restore my faith in this world, lmao sometimes some of y’all play too much though.

Where do you see yourself in 5 years?

I want to say sit back and relaxing but I’m a workaholic. I’m working 6 days a week if not 7. I’ll be building my empire sis, or maintaining it, one of them. I’ll probably be on set somewhere, or maybe somewhere hot. I’ll be grown and bougie, or just bougie and semi grown. How about we meet for a Jameson’s in 5 years and see?

Follow Mata on Instagram here.

2 January 2020