Mata Marielle is fast becoming one of the most in-demand makeup artists in the game, contributing to editorials and campaigns alongside boasting an impressive roster of personal clients, including Lauryn Hill (her doppelgänger), Lil Nas X and Joy Crookes. If that weren’t enough, Mata is also the founder of MATALABS, a range of products especially designed to flatter complexions of colour. We caught up with Mata to talk about starting young, self-care and what’s on the horizon.
What was your first introduction to editorial makeup?
I remember seeing Akinola [Davies Jr.]’s “unity is strength” shoot for Kenzo back in 2017 and feeling so inspired. I did my own interpretation, playing with the colours of the collection through makeup. It was fab. Akinola saw it, loved it, and we started working together soon after!
Fashion is a relentless industry. How do you make time for yourself?
I try to make my home feel as comfortable as possible, so that when I’m not working I can just relax! My ‘alone time’ is very important to me, time to just sit and be with my thoughts. It’s important to switch off. Working in an industry that never stops, it’s important to know when you need to.
What does success mean to you?
Success to me means happiness, comfort and a sense of contentment with yourself and your craft.
You’ve achieved so much so young! Where does your confidence come from?
From the women in my family — especially my grandma, Marie Mata. She’s fearless and has been her whole life, so she encourages me to be the same way. Even in my grown years!
When it comes to the industry, there are lots of people I respect but honestly none I fear. I’m not motivated by will this person like me if I do XYZ? Or can I get X if I do another shoot with Y. None of that ambiguity. I’m pretty direct. If I want something, I’ll ask. No one in my family worked in the creative industries growing up, so I learnt early on to ask lots of questions. Big or small, never be afraid to ask.
In 2017, you dropped out of university to pursue a career as a professional makeup artist. Was that a scary decision?
Yes! Probably one of the scariest things I’ve ever done but also pretty fun 😂😭 I just know my mum will be kissing her teeth at that! I could honestly fill a Netflix series with the stories from that time. I didn’t tell my family I dropped out for two whole months, meanwhile I was working back to back on makeup jobs and doing anything and everything that came along. It’s the chaos for me! I’m Congolese so you know the family cried when they heard the news.
How would you like friends to describe you?
Funny, loud (when I’m comfortable) and caring. I agree with them tbh 😂
Can you tell us a bit about your vision for Mata Labs?
I definitely needed some time to grow and develop the tings but it’s coming and it’s gonna be GRANDE! The new logo has been ready for a while.
Who is your first call when you need advice?
Definitely a friend! Or if it’s work related my superstar agent, Jade.
Do you feel that the fashion industry is becoming a more inclusive space to work in?
There have been some attempts and some small victories but there’s still a long way to go. There are still plenty of white-dominated work environments with little to no POC or Black representation. Beauty brands are still making ranges with limited shades, treating darker skin as an afterthought. Coming into 2023, none of this is excusable. Brands, and the people behind them, should feel shame at their lack of inclusivity.
I want to see more brands hiring black people in top roles — we deserve access to lucrative contracts and collaborations too! People in gatekeeping positions, like beauty PR’s, should be more mindful about who they are choosing to acknowledge and support and why. There’s a lot of work to be done!
How do you like to feel when doing your own makeup?
Beautiful! I know my face so well and over the years I’ve learned what works best for me, right down to the perfect faux freckle placement!
Where do you go or what do you do when you need to feel inspired?
I look to Black women and Black people who are thriving, whatever industries they work in. Seeing how they move, dress, and exist is inspiring to me. I love my people fr!!
What makes you excited about the future?
I’m super excited about what’s coming next for Mata Labs! Also some amazing projects, which will give me an opportunity to showcase the products.
Finally, we ask all of our Journal interviewees to complete the following phrase:
You Must Create… art, happiness and peace.