Cece Meadows is making her mark in cosmetics
Running a business

Cece Meadows is making her mark in cosmetics

In honor of National Native American Heritage Month, QuickBooks is spotlighting indigenous-owned small businesses, their stories, and their journeys to success. Check the Small Business Stories hub all month for more inspiration. 

Name and Pronouns: Cece Meadows

Location: Traditional homelands of the Piro-Manso-Tiwa- Las Cruces, NM

Business: Prados Beauty

Why did you decide to start your own business? 

I wanted to start Prados Beauty because I saw the marginalization of my people in the beauty industry. I started out in the industry as an influencer and NYFW makeup artist, and I didn’t understand why we weren’t a part of that world. 

How did you get started?

I started Prados in my daughter's nursery with $150 and a dream. I knew that I had a platform and the skills to do makeup—why not make my own? I started off with trademarking, copywriting, and patenting my designs and ideas. I started networking and working towards creating an uplifting and inclusive beauty brand, through the eyes of Indigenous Peoples. 

What is the biggest lesson you learned in the first year? 

Know your finances, know your limits, cost of goods sold and taxes, and always pay your taxes. I feel like a lot of businesses fail because of a lack of understanding about taxes, finances, and regulations. I had to research and pick the brains of those who were willing to share their experiences and knowledge with me. 

What was the most surprising thing about becoming a business owner? 

The amount of stress and worry that goes into this beautiful little creation that you birthed from dreams and hopes, into the empire it's becoming today. I don’t think I ever worried and loved something so much at the same time that wasn’t my child or husband. You learn to respect and honor the craft of being an entrepreneur and you never take any moments of winning or losing for granted. It’s definitely surprising to me how little things like launches and partnerships can make you feel like you can conquer the world.

How does running your own business make you feel? 

Empowered. Humbled. Grateful. Worried. Stressed. Appreciative. I never take one moment of my business owner journey for granted. I walk every single day knowing that I am blessed to be able to do what I love, but also have a responsibility to be an example for those who will come after me. 

What are some of the challenges you’ve overcome or are working to overcome?

Funding. It’s always funding when it comes to BIPOC, women-owned businesses. As a Xicana and Native woman, we make up less than 1% of million dollar seeding or funding numbers. So when you take your numbers and taxes to a potential investor and your numbers are gold, but still can’t get that yes to funding, it makes you wonder what the problem really is. Especially when they don’t give feedback or let you know the reasons behind the no. I’m over getting the nos and I never want to hear a no again from an investor or lender, so I just do what I do. Be resilient, bootstrap, stay 100% independent and me-owned.

How is your business handling recent inflation and supply chain issues? 

I have been really blessed that I haven’t had any chain supply issues. I have a great working relationship with my manufacturers and my products and shipments have always been a priority when it comes to exports and production. I am very thankful for that. As far as inflation goes, since we haven’t taken a hit on anything, there is no need to raise my prices, so my customers can always be repeat customers with peace of mind knowing its affordable and high quality. 

What is your best advice to other small business owners for hiring and retaining staff?

Do the background checks! Call the previous employers. Ask their former colleagues about them and their work ethic. I was in the finance industry for over 15 years before I started Prados, and it always surprises me when employers don’t do the research and then are upset over a bad hire. 

And in order to retain good staff, treat them well. Better than well actually. When you treat a good employee with respect and appreciation, they will always do their best work and stay loyal through all the ups and downs you might face as a business owner. I am very grateful to have amazing staff who always go above and beyond for me. I truly never take them for granted.

What challenges do you feel are unique to indigenous small business owners? 

Lack of financial knowledge is a huge challenge for a lot of indigenous business owners. Lack of basics like taxes, payroll, HR standards, marketing, and PR. These are things that I teach the mentees in my mentorship group and it makes me sad and yet so proud all at the same time. Even though this lack of resources is challenging and sometimes makes you feel so lost, it speaks to the resiliency of our relatives and people. Nothing is going to stop us, so we research, we ask questions, and we take the long road sometimes—but we get there. It makes the process and journey so much more rewarding.  

How do you engage with the community and how do they engage with or help your business?

Social media is a huge driver in how we connect with our community and supporters. We also love to go out in the community to powwows, vending events, fashion shows, and community events. We are very much boots-on-the-ground when it comes to connecting with our community and people. I love to call them “World Changers,” because they help us in our mission to not just sell cosmetics, but to amplify and help one another.

What are your proudest moments? 

Probably the first time my brand was featured in Vogue, Cosmopolitan, and Allure magazine. The time I got the call about being sold in a retailer. Every launch that we have had since being founded in 2019. Getting a thank you letter from the Zuni people for helping their EMS, police, and firefighters with PPE. Those moments mean a lot to me. 

What are the next big plans you have for your business?

I plan to make Prados Beauty a global brand by 2025. I am currently working on a full cosmetics line where you can purchase every piece of cosmetics you may need from us.

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It’s not just about making money…it’s about leading the pack by example and leaving a trail for others to follow.

When you’re having a tough day, who or what inspires you to keep going?

My children. I built this for my children. My hope is that one day they will take over the business and do the work that I have dedicated my life to. It’s not just about making money or creating generational wealth for myself or for them, it’s about leading the pack by example and leaving a trail for others to follow. I very much believe that Prados will not be the last successful BIPOC beauty brand to come, we are just getting started, so dream babies! Dream big and work hard, dedicate yourself to do it and it will happen.

What advice would you give to other business owners just starting out?

 Read the fine print. Don’t cut corners or think there is an easier way. Working smarter is not always better than working harder—sometimes there just needs to be hard work and that's ok. It’s so rewarding at the end when you know you did it and you did it right.

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