During the pandemic, we’ve all been living through our screens, absorbing what society perceives to be beautiful, and in turn, sharing the version of ourselves that we think is beautiful. But our relationship with beauty and how we choose to express it is much more complex: It's a connection to your culture, a coping mechanism, a lifestyle, or a work of art. In our first season of Beauty Out There, in partnership with Ulta Beauty, we’re meeting four LA locals whose looks and rituals are as personal as they are powerful, proving that beauty can be a conduit to the most authentic and confident version of yourself.
“To build something from nothing” is a directive that Los Angeles native Sailor Gonzales has fiercely embodied all her life. It’s an approach that she was not so much taught but inherited from her family, who immigrated from Michoacan, Mexico to the U.S. in the ‘70s and started completely over, planting roots in a country without anything to their name.
“My Chicana heritage has taught me that life is all about making it work: Take what you have and make something beautiful with it, something unique,” says Gonzales, who vividly recalls her grandmother cutting hems from her jeans and using that extra fabric to make clothes for her dolls. And it's here from which stems her love of design — she has been sewing for as long as she can remember. One of her favorite pastimes is fashioning a full-on 'fit for a night of dancing at Latin clubs, complete with a matching beauty look.
So, it's fitting that Gonzales would go on to forge a career path as a fashion designer, with the plan to launch a handmade clothing brand Shop Conchita this summer. With her discerning eye, she draws inspiration from her surroundings, like architecture, her mother’s garden, or the color of low-rider cars that her father fixes up.
But her vision doesn’t focus exclusively on clothing; it’s about piecing together “a look" that also encompasses hair and makeup of the past and blending them with the present, which means turning to the women in her family — her mother, her tias, her grandmother — for inspiration. “To me, the epitome of beauty was right in my own neighborhood," she says. "I love the feeling of nostalgia when looking at old photos and remembering the old styles from generations before me.”
That nostalgic pull is why she pays homage to her mother by drawing on the same mole as her or why her go-to beauty look is a modern take on '70s Chicana beauty and her grandmother’s glamour, with signatures like big, fluffy hair, cut-crease eye looks, and bright blush that creeps from her cheeks to her lids — all of which complement her affinity for candy-colored hair and creative nail art. In the end, it's a look that's completely unique to her, putting her own spin on the elements (heavy, dark lipliner and drawn-on eyebrows) that make up Chicana beauty stereotypes.
“I put all of those pieces together to create something new," Gonzales says, "something that’s mine."
Watch the entire video, above, to learn more about Gonzales, her heritage, and her inspiration for fashion and beauty.