Zinniah Munoz, Professional Makeup Artist, Philanthropist
We discovered Zinniah and her organization at One Girl's all-day convention early December. She did a live make-up tutorial on one of the attendees. There was something striking about her - she was soft-spoken, highly creative, the fact that she had her own non-profit foundation to empowered young women through beauty, made her all more attractive and made us really want to get to know her. We got in contact shortly after, and she agreed to be one of our lovely panelists in our RISE event last month representing The Zinniah Foundation.
Now, you will be able to read her story. Today's #Girlboss Spotlight, Zinniah Munoz:
1. What were your dreams as a little girl?
Besides living in a Barbie Dream House?! As a little girl I always dreamt of opening my own beauty parlor to help women across the world look, and most importantly, feel beautiful. This dream was built by my experiences as a rugrat: Mom and I would designate “Mommy & Daughter” days. More often than not, we would go to the nail salon to get manis and pedis. Amongst the buzzing of electronic files and salon gossip, one detail stuck out like a sore thumb: the transformation of character between the time these women and men walked in and out of the salon door. Talk about a "WOW" factor. With a seemingly insignificant coat of varnish, these people evolved into the most confident versions of themselves - walking with their shoulders a little straighter and their heads a little higher. The same went for my mother - a single-parent, butt-busting, hard working soldier turned into a Queen every morning with just the slightest bit of eyeliner or lipstick. My M.O. became being the person responsible for making others confident and beautiful through cosmetology. Fast forward to years later, I enrolled in a vocational high school to complete both my cosmetology license and high school diploma, started working on music video sets, servicing brides, and formulating my own cosmetics at the tender age of 14. The rest, as they say, is history.
2 .You founded The Zinniah Foundation. What inspired you to make the jump on this project?
My involvement in the beauty industry, for sure! There are two main reasons to starting The Zinniah Foundation: one, the artists and creators in the beauty industry are overlooked and undervalued. In the days of Helena Rubinstein, and Max Factor, they were the stars in the beauty. Fast track to 2016, now celebrities like Kim Kardashian and Shay Mitchell are the world’s top beauty influencers. When you look at these beautiful women and men, rarely do people ever say, “WOW! Jen Atkin, Scott Barnes, Hrush Achemyan, or Sam Visser did an amazing job!” Instead you hear, “OMG! I HAVE to get the lipstick Bella Hadid uses.” My goal is to bring the attention back to the artists - the true revolutionaries of the industry. The artists who create the trends and make individuals look as astonishing as they do.
Second, my experience as a vocational cosmetology competitor in high school. I joined a nonprofit organization dedicated to vocational learning and community service called, SkillsUSA. I competed and placed First, both my Junior and Senior years. I noticed competitors in other fields like Aviation, Plumbing, and Automotive were getting thousand dollar scholarships and massive tool kits, while cosmetology competitors were getting a measly bag of sample-sized products. I was appalled that contributors of this multi-billion dollar industry were not involved in programs like SkillsUSA; were not investing into the future agents of the beauty world. As a result of my disappointment and rage, I created The Zinniah Foundation to highlight the industry's’ young cosmetologists and bring us back to our beginnings of education and love for artistry.
I wanted to make my mark in the beauty industry, but I felt we were saturated in both beauty products and salons. So I chose philanthropy. Philanthropy, like cosmetology, is an invisible and under-appreciated force for progress in American-style Capitalism. It is also a secret ingredient that fails to get mentioned in economic accounts. Although I dreamt about being an entrepreneur, I revisited the economics of capitalism and how we must incorporate the role of philanthropy if we are to create policies to promote its better aspects. I saw my philanthropic endeavors as a way to mitigate inequality and soften hard edges in this free market and cut-throat industry. Recycling wealth reduces income inequality and contributes to a more just society. Solely leaving money to the next generation will leave them poor - I do not want to leave money (or beauty products), I am creating and leaving opportunity.
3. You are also a celebrity makeup artist. How do you make time for both careers or even combine them into one?
I had to put my craft on the back burner when I was applying to colleges and when I incorporated The Zinniah Foundation. It has been a feat getting back into the groove of the beauty scene, but one that I am overcoming. Now I dedicate time to both - during the week I am researching grants and learning how to be the best damn Executive Director, while on the weekends I am beautifying clients and getting myself involved in creative projects.
It would not be just to completely put off one for the other - they go hand in hand. How can I direct programs or lead a tribe of young entrepreneurs and beauty creators if I am not one myself? Involvement in the field only enhances the learning environment and resources for our young women and men.
4. Young adults, especially minorities and women in the creative worlds are faced with adversity and challenges on their entrepreneurial journeys. What is your best advice to these young dreamers and doers ?
Nothing sets me off more than being told that I can not do something! I’ve heard:
“You’re a female and Latina so you have to work extra hard” or
“You’re short - people will not take you seriously." Am I my own triple threat? What a load of bullshit!
I use these negative statements as fuel. It is BECAUSE I am a female that I can better understand emotion and stimulate welcoming, motherly environments. It is BECAUSE I am Hispanic that I can empathize with young immigrants that are apart of my programs. In addition, I am highly diversified - a huge plus in every setting! It is because I am petite that I do not come off as intimidating. Therefore, I am more effective with those I encounter and with what I accomplish. It is about seeing light in darkness.
Too often age and experience become an excuse to accept the status quo without question. I invite young adults to say, “Why not?” instead of “Of course not." Do not grow fearful of making mistakes. Do not rely on conventional wisdom or wallow in the safety of consensus. When you routinely use the phrase, “Why not?” you will find unexpected and beneficial ways of improving the status quo.
6. What is next for The Zinniah Foundation and Zinniah, herself?
As a fledgling nonprofit there is so much in store! In the coming year we will be partnering with more inner-city public high schools and building bridges with corporations and creators in beauty. Last year we got MAKEUP FOREVER and Milk Makeup on board, this year L’Oreal, perhaps? Also, this year we will be granting a scholarship to the top cosmetology student at our pilot high school - we are excited to be apart of our students success and opportunities.
As for myself, being the happiest and fulfilled person I can be. I neglected my sanity and purpose for a long time, plummeting my energy and ambition. Getting back into what I love has made all of the difference. Tomorrow is never promised but my tenacity and work ethic is and because of that I can afford to take more risks. 2017, I’m comin’ for ya!
Introduction by Chary, Interviewed by Emily