The MakeUp Bar caters to celebrities, grandmothers alike 

click to enlarge Alex Mendez poses for a photo with Sarah Taylor at the Makeup Bar in Oklahoma City, Friday, May 15, 2015. - GARETT FISBECK
  • Garett Fisbeck
  • Alex Mendez poses for a photo with Sarah Taylor at the Makeup Bar in Oklahoma City, Friday, May 15, 2015.

Thirty years ago, Alex Mendez applied for her first job in makeup. As a student at Bishop McGuiness, she was only 14, but she knew she couldn’t babysit forever. Instead, she preferred to sit in her mother’s sink and play with her makeup.

“I wanted to grow up and own a place that had a lot of lipstick,” said Mendez.

When it came time to begin the job search, Crème de la Crème, a popular local salon specializing in upscale beauty products, was her first choice. Mendez even remembers what she wore when she approached the shop owners about a job.

“I had on a long denim prairie skirt and peach bomber jacket with the biggest shoulder pads you ever did see. It was like Ralph Lauren meets Dynasty,” she said.

Mendez walked in and told them she would own a boutique like Crème de la Crème one day and that she needed to start somewhere. Eventually, she was offered and accepted a position. At the tail end of the Penn Square Bank failure in 1982, it was a tough time to get into a luxury business.

“The new kid was always the one who would get her hours cut first. Although I never had to, I would have worked for free just so I could be there and learn and soak up the knowledge,” Mendez said.

Mendez has been the owner of The MakeUp Bar, 7646 N. Western Ave., for 14 years. The boutique is known to cater to the occasional celebrity.

Wayne Coyne frequents the shop, and Metallica stopped in because The MakeUp Bar was the only place in town that carried the hair products they liked. Mendez said Prince’s crew stopped in when they forgot eyeliner.

“You just never know who you might see,” she said.

That sentiment applies to locals, too.

“We have a lot of multi-generational clients,” she said. “Grandmothers might bring their daughters and daughters might bring the granddaughters. This is why I love owning local, especially in Oklahoma because I’ve seen such a renaissance happen here.”

Although the economy has fluctuated recently and many rely on the Internet to make purchases, Mendez is confident in The MakeUp Bar’s future. She explained that nothing beats the instant gratification of making a purchase in person and being able to verify the quality of something for yourself. Mendez said that when it comes to makeup, it’s important to feel confident that the color matches your skin tone.

“Create a look, mood and an attitude with makeup,” she said, surrounded by an endless amount of lipstick tubes in all shades. “Wear a different color lipstick every day of the week and have it be completely different. Be bold; don’t be afraid. Just have fun.”


Print headline: Manifest makeup, A cosmetics store thrives after 14 years of ups and downs.

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