“Are you ready to change the world?” 30-year-old Mally Roncal asked her would-be business partner, Don Petitt, in 2002 when they were about to start the now-multi-million dollar business empire, Mally Beauty.
The question isn’t mere rhetoric, at least from the perspective of thousands of women for whom a tube of lipstick or a wand of mascara have served as confidence-boosters during crucial moments when looking and feeling good meant a lot, said Fil-Am Roncal who has evolved to become an A-list celebrity make-up artist. Among her clients are Hollywood stars and performers Beyoncé, Jennifer Lopez, Angelina Jolie, Taylor Swift, Mariah Carey and Tyra Banks.
Most recently, Mally prepped Beyoncé for her historic singing of the US national anthem for President Obama’s inauguration in January, and for her highly anticipated Super Bowl half-time concert this February.
“How you make up is how you make out,” is easily Roncal’s mantra. “Changing the world starts with being able to look in the mirror and telling yourself, ’I feel good, and I’m ready to face the world today,”’ she added.
The Roncals-doctors Pilar from Malabon and Roger from Baguio City-migrated to the United States in 1963, where their only child was born in 1972.
Mally Roncal was raised in upstate New York but grew up feeling proud of her Filipino heritage. “Our home was essentially Filipino. My parents felt that it was very important to instill that pride in me.”
That pride would prove crucial in a career where looking like everybody else sometimes decided one’s success in life. “(But) my parents always taught me that what makes you different makes you beautiful. So although I was different from all the kids in my school, I was always proud of who I was. Looking Filipino is something I’m very proud of,” said the dusky-skinned Mally.
She added: “I’m very blessed to have a loving and supportive family. Originally, I was pre-med in college. I wanted to become a dermatologist because I always loved skin and was fascinated by it, but I couldn’t deny my passion for make-up. My love affair with all things glam started at a young age. I started experimenting with make-up on my mother, an incredible beauty who was, and continues to be, my biggest inspiration.”
Mally lost her mother to breast cancer when she was 17. When Dr. Pilar Roncal was in her sick bed, recalled her daughter, she would make sure to put her make-up on so that she would feel better and her visitors would feel more comfortable. That pushed Mally to acknowledge the power of beauty and pursue it as a full-time career.
In her early years as a make-up artist, she recalled putting on make-up “on anything that was not nailed to the ground!” But, she added, her style has evolved over the years. “I like fresh, breathable skin that glows, soft smoky eyes, and natural juicy and full lips.
“I always love to try new things and I’m always open to great new ideas!”
Such attitude, talent and skills certainly helped get Mally where she is, but she acknowledged as well her “amazing agent,” Jim Indorato.
“He truly helped open doors for me in this industry,” she said. “Even if I had very little experience, he took a chance on me and started booking me for photo shoots and fashion shows. He got my name out there and before I knew it, I was receiving calls to do some of the biggest names in Hollywood.”
Working hard didn’t hurt, either. “I never had a problem with working hard, so I practically did every job I possibly could in the beginning. I worked for free, I never said no, and I never turned down a job. I had some great friends who gave me my first (breaks) at work, and it just started building from there.”
Not that it’s easy street, she added. “One of the hardest part of the job is the amount of time, effort and energy that go into creating make-up. I am knee-deep in the product development process 24/7. It’s one of the most difficult (yet exciting!) parts of my job.”
Being able to sell her Mally Beauty make-up line on the online marketing site QVC also means she has to be “an even tougher critic when it comes to testing my own formulas,” Mally said. “Unlike most products that can just live on the shelf, my products need to create a connection with the customer to keep her coming back for more.”
But the job is rewarding as well, she hastened to add. “In some small way, I touch and affect people’s lives everyday. It’s the most incredible feeling, knowing that my Volumizing Waterproof Mascara is giving women the assurance that they can cry without their make-up running, or that a husband, for the first time, might tell a woman who has put on a full Mally face that she looks breathtakingly beautiful.”
Mally’s make-up tips have become a common feature in such glossy magazines as Allure, Marie Claire, Self, Harper’s Bazaar, People, US Weekly and Entertainment Weekly, and on TV shows like “Oprah,” “Rachael Ray” and “Today.” She has also come up with easy-to-follow video tutorials that feature her in an extensive hands-on make-up demo.
“It’s important that women hear it from me directly-how to use the product and how they will feel after they use the product. It may not change their life, but maybe it would make their day a little bit brighter,” she said.
Beyond making women look good, Mally also brings joy and comfort to children and teens who’ve lost their parents by being a long-time supporter of Mommy’s Light Lives On Fund, which helps keep alive traditions or simple pleasures that the children used to share with their parents.
It is a tribute to her mom who made her appreciate life and life’s purpose even more, Mally said. “My mother has never stopped being present in my life and I know that keeping her spirit close is what has allowed me to feel fulfilled and complete.”
Mally continues to honor her mother Pilar by naming one of her twin daughter after her. (The other twin is named after her mother-in-law, Sophie.). One of the lipsticks in her beauty line is called Pilar Pink, whose sales she donates to breast cancer research.
This beauty expert also uses her trade to pay tribute to her Filipino heritage. She has launched a Manila Mauve lipstick and a signature fragrance inspired by the scent of sampaguita, the Philippines’ national flower.
“She had a sample of the sampaguita sent over to make sure they got it right,” said her husband Phil Bickett.
“We then developed a modernized version with hints of citrus notes,” said Mally. “Ang bango (It smelled so good)!”
Furthermore, Mally pointed out, the star-shaped flowers are so ephemeral, its beauty and scent so fleeting that it is considered precious. “Since I was young, I was taught to appreciate life in the same way,” she said. “I’d love for this scent to inspire us to live each day to the fullest.”
Mally’s upbeat outlook is reflected in Mally Beauty’s social media outlets as well, where she posts such mantras as “Keep Calm and Put Your Lipstick On.”
Well, who can argue with that? •
For more information about Mally Beauty, please visit www.mallybeauty.com or follow her on www.facebook.com/mallybeauty or twitter.com/mallybeauty Carissa Villacorta has been living and writing in New York City for the past 11 years. Her book, “Surreality” is a collection of essays about life in NY from the perspective of a young Filipino publicist. The award-winning work is available as a digital book on Amazon.com (http://www.amazon.com/Surreality-Carissa-Villacorta/dp/B000JVU4HY).
Make-up, Mally style
Four tips and tricks of the trade, from a Hollywood beauty expert:
“You don’t have to go under the knife to alter your appearance—that’s the beauty of make-up,” declared Mally Roncal, a make-up artist whose clients include Beyoncé, J Lo and Tyra Banks.
But foregoing surgery doesn’t mean you have to give in to your crow’s feet, dull skin and emerging wrinkles. Thanks to make-up, you can easily transform your lips, eyes and cheekbones without a facelift or injections, she added.
Here’s how, for starters:
1. Keep your skin moisturized to minimize the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles. Drink plenty of water, use a great moisturizer, and begin your make-up routine with a hydrating primer.
2. Using a creamy lipstick is another great make-up technique that can help you avoid cosmetic surgery. Matte lipstick doesn’t have enough moisture content and settles into your lip lines, making them stand out.
3. Another easy tip—switch from black eyeliner to brown. If you have been using black eyeliner for years, it’s time to switch to brown or brown/black. Jet-black liner is too harsh and can draw attention to aging eyes.
4. A major make-up no-no is translucent powder! Women need to toss that translucent powder right this second! It makes skin look white, funky, dry and cakey, plus it settles into all of your fine lines and wrinkles and makes you look older.