Megan Martinez of Corpus Christi beat homelessness and poverty. She is her own boss. She has made a name for herself as a makeup artist and handcrafted a makeup line that is now sold online around the globe. NATALIA CONTRERAS
The day Megan Martinez had to drop out of high school she woke up in her red Cavalier.
She’d been living in it for several days.
She went to school that day hungry and exhausted because she’d been working two jobs.
It was hunger that pushed her to make the decision to drop out — she was on her own.
But she didn’t let poverty and homelessness be the narrative of her story.
Instead, she was driven by ambition. .
Ten years later, the Corpus Christi native is her own boss. She has made a name for herself as a makeup artist and handcrafted a makeup line that is now sold online around the globe.
“I’ve been working since I can remember,” said Martinez, now 28. “I’d hustle, clean houses, cut lawns. Working was never an option for my siblings and me, we had to.”
Martinez, who grew up in the city’s Westside, remembers moving from one public housing apartment to another with her mother and younger siblings.
She worked at Whataburger and had retail jobs. At home, there was abuse and neglect. And by the time she turned 18 she had nowhere to go.
“If I ever wanted something I’d have to do it myself,” Martinez said. “The moment I turned 18 I signed myself out of school. I felt like I had no choice, I needed to work.”
Martinez left Carroll High School and began to work as a freelance makeup artist. She’d do makeup for her friends as they went to dances and other events, she said.
She was able to build a big following on early social media pages like MySpace. And people began to recognize her name.
“I was doing everyone’s makeup. It was paying me,” Martinez said. “It was because of makeup that I could eat. It literally saved my life.”
But she still could not afford to buy expensive brands and could not find the colors and shades of makeup she liked.
She wanted brighter colors than what they had on store shelves, she said. So she created her own eye shadows and highlighters. That’s how Chaos Makeup was born.
She’d mix and match different color eye shadows to highlighters and create new shades.
“People would call it clown makeup because it was too bright and colorful,” Martinez said.
Chaos Makeup is handcrafted by Martinez and two other employees at a shop in the city’s Southside and sold online around the globe.
The makeup, especially the highlighters, went viral online last year because of Martinez’s formula. The latest highlighters she created are heat-activated colors and the shades change with sunlight.
Martinez’s makeup line and the formula has been featured in magazines like Allure, Cosmopolitan and Teen Vogue and beauty blogs like NYLON, Buzzfeed, Bustle, and others.
She is proud to have been able to succeed as an entrepreneur in her hometown, she said.
“People would tell me all the time that I’d never make it here,” Martinez said. “But I owned it and I said I’d make it and I did.
“I traveled. I didn’t have to move but I went to other places and I built my company by owning Texas first,” she said.
Ashley Castaneda, 27, has known Martinez for about a decade and been her right hand for the past four years.
Castaneda would book Martinez’s appointments for makeup sessions and would also help her on the job.
“Seeing her persevere through all the hardships is what made me want to work that much harder and help her create what we hope is a Chaos Makeup empire,” Castaneda said.
“One thing I love about Megan is that she will utilize every little thing she has. She can make things out of nothing.”
Photographer Dustin Ashcraft has known Martinez since she started as a makeup artist.
At the time he wanted to collaborate with a makeup artist he could use during photo shoots. Their careers took off around the same time and they both branched off, he said.
“I am beyond proud of Megan and her accomplishments. She has grown as an artist, entrepreneur and as a person,” said Ashcraft, 34. “Her products are amazing and she deserves all the accolades she’s received.”
Martinez said her goal is to build such a big empire to be able to fund humanitarian activism and to pay for school to become a chemist.
She also has plans to sell her makeup line at major makeup retail stores like Sephora nationwide.
“I always knew, that no matter what anyone said, that I could do this,” Martinez said. “And I want people to know to never give up. If you believe you can do something you do it. Do not let anyone stop you.
“Save money, stay positive and be aware that you will have it harder, but that’s OK,” she said. “Work hard and you’ll get there.”