I grew up on a farm in a little town outside of Yuma, Arizona. I’m the oldest of four, and it was a pretty rough upbringing. We didn’t have a lot, but we had each other. School was my safe haven, so I thrived there and ended up being the first in my family to graduate from college.
My 20s were actually a really big blur. I was making six figures in the finance world, driving a sports car, and just living life really, really fast. I got married, had a little girl, and got divorced. At 27, I was diagnosed with cancer. My insurance covered only a portion of my surgeries and medication. Being a single mom with one income and being sick, it was hard. I basically lost everything—my home, my car, my savings—all from trying to pay for my treatments. I had another baby shortly after I went into remission and wound up being homeless with two kids. It was crazy going from being a really successful person to being broke.
But I’m super optimistic, and I think that has changed my life. I grew up in a negative environment, but there was always a spark in me that wanted something better. As an adult, that has helped me get myself out of places when I’ve been stuck. I’ve always dreamed of owning my own cosmetics line. My passions are doing makeup and doing philanthropic work, so I figured out a way to make those two things go together. I moved to New York and went to cosmetology school. Then in 2018, I went on to be the first Native American makeup artist to head a show backstage for New York Fashion Week. I started Prados Beauty and used my products on models, then began selling them online the following year.
Once the business became successful and products were selling, I decided to give 50 percent of the profits back to Indigenous communities and to people in need, which means a lot of veterans and kids with special needs, specifically. We just launched our nonprofit, called the Prados Life Foundation, and we’ve been raising money to send PPE to Native American communities that have been hit hard by the pandemic, as well as to the fire and police departments on reservations. I have a patch that was sent to me by the Zuni tribe as a thanks for our assistance. I look at it every single day, and it reminds me that even though we are a cosmetics company, we can change people’s worlds.
Indigenous representation in beauty is important. I personally identify as Yaqui and Comanche. And when I think of Indigenous beauty, I think of amplifying the voices of not just one particular tribe but all of us together. Using vibrant seeds of color like turquoise and yellow and orange helps accomplish that. We have a lot of Indigenous makeup artists on our team who come up with the most beautiful eye looks, and some of them post photos in their regalia or wearing beaded jewelry. Our brand is about being really proud of who we are and telling our story through makeup. It’s also inspired consumers to learn about Indigenous culture. They know that we’re not just a false Pocahontas story, and we can remind people that we’re more than a genocide in a history book. We’re still here.
To support Meadows’s cause, go to pradosbeauty.com
This story appears in the April 2021 issue of Marie Claire.