Melanie Mills is an Emmy Award-winning makeup artist and the creator of Gleam Body Radiance. Extremely talented and full of life, Melanie has been in the entertainment industry for over fifteen years, during which time she’s worked on productions such as The Office, That 70’s Show, and Dancing with the Stars.
In fact, it was her work as head of the makeup department on Dancing with the Stars for which Melanie won her Emmy in 2008. During her time on the show, Mel developed Gleam Body Radiance when she identified the need for a long lasting, stain-free, high-quality body bronzer.
Since the launch of Gleam, Melanie has expanded the brand to include Lip Radiance, an all-natural line of lasting lip gloss, and Radiant Dust, a loose shimmering power. I am a huge fan of all three products. I love applying Gleam Body Radiance to my arms and legs for a toned and sexy effect. Radiant Dust can be used as a blush or bronzer, as well as applied on the body. Use just a little here and there for a natural, rich glow, or amp up the glam for a high-impact look.
The thing I love so much about Mel’s products is that they aren’t just beautiful, they’re good for your skin and feel great on! There’s nothing worse than that plastered on, heavy make-up feeling. With Gleam, you barely feel like you’re wearing anything at all!
The same is true for the Lip Radiance line. I am usually a chapstick girl during the day because I like my lips to feel healthy and hydrated, but with Lip Radiance, you get the best of both worlds – hydration and glossy colour.
Gleam products have been featured in magazines such as Allure, Self, InStyle, Vogue, People, and Redbook. As you can imagine, I was absolutely thrilled when Melanie agreed to do a little Q&A with me for Things I’m Loving!
Melanie will be bringing all things glitter and glam to the International Make-Up Artist Trade Show (IMATS) in Vancouver this summer. Top make-up artists, schools, and shops from TV and film will be representing at the Vancouver Convention Centre August 9th – 10th, 2014. Be sure to stop by the Gleam booth and pick up some Gleam products for yourself or your make-up kit!
K: When did you first realize make-up artistry was your calling? How did you break into it?
Melanie: I have always loved makeup. I used to make-up my girlfriends to go out, and I used to make-up the neighborhood to produce these fashion shows. It wasn’t until I was living and studying in Italy when I got introduced to a makeup school and fell in love with the idea! The school was in an old church in Milan and I thought “Oh my god, I can take my beloved hobby and turn it into a career!” Not only that, but I can have a reason to live in Italy for another year!
Unfortunately that dream did not last as I could not gather the funds. After returning home I was complaining to my hairdresser about the missed opportunity, and she quickly introduced me to her roommate who was a union makeup artist. Before I knew it, I was introduced to a makeup and hair team in desperate need of an intern to mop sweat in the summer. I took the gig and the hairdresser brought me on to a ton of low budget horror films. She then got a job in India and I found myself running those gigs!
K: Having worked on productions such as That 70’s Show, The Office, and Dancing with the Stars, for which you received a Primetime Emmy, you have worked with many actors and models over the years. Do any experiences with a celebrity stand out as particularly fun and memorable?
Melanie: Oh yes!! Angie Everhart , the cast of 6 feet under, Liz Gillies, Brandy, Jennifer Grey, Natalie Coughlin, Marie Osmond, Wayne Newton, Michael Bolton, Tony Braxton, Pamela Anderson, Kelly Osbourne. I could go on and on, but those were some favorite celebrities that popped into my head right away…
Pamela is really funny and her stories of her life and her advice for mine were unforgettable. Wayne Newton telling of Elvis Presley memories was so cool too!
K: Tell us about how Gleam came to be.
Melanie: I was running ‘Dancing with the Stars’ and found myself in a self-tanning nightmare! I could NOT find anything on the market that would even out the skin while also hydrating it. I also needed it to be transfer resistant, and if it did transfer, not to stain. I also wanted to be multi-purpose to work for all skin tones with all skin problems, so I whipped up my first batch of Gleam!
K: I love all of your products! Your line includes Gleam Body Radiance, Lip Radiance and the recently added Radiant Dust. Have you considered expanding the line further? Are you currently working on any new additions?
Melanie: Yes, of course. The dream is to have a full color line. I’m currently working on expanding the Gleam Body Radiance line with new shades. Also, I’m working on new brushes to complete a full set, new lip gloss shades, eye shadows and an awesome mascara!! Just to name a few…
K: What are the hottest trends in makeup this summer?
Melanie: A bronze glow, brown sultry smoky eyes, dewy skin, sexy highlighted cheekbones.
K: What are some of the biggest makeup mistakes women make?
Melanie: Not bringing foundation down the neck, on ears, and behind ears! Also eyelashes that are glaringly fake!
K: You recently released a book, “Glitter and Glam”, featuring fabulous makeup looks and tips on how to achieve them. What was the inspiration behind the book? What was that process like? How long did it take from initial concept to launch?
Melanie: I had always dreamed of doing a makeup book similar to my idol’s Kevyn Aucoin. I am still fascinated by his books! Classics. When I was working on ‘Dancing with the Stars’, we would try to incorporate all sorts of looks into the show. I couldn’t help but say to Brandy “You would make an amazing Cleopatra!” She was like “Let’s do it Mel!” When you have someone like her ready to play, you jump at that opportunity.
Then when I showed the photos I had done to other celebrities, they would get excited. It all started from there. So, it was kind of backwards – it started with about 11 stunning photographs, I put together a proposal, and found an agent. About 2 years later we got Penguin to buy it! From start to finish it took 4 years.
K: According to Gleam social media feeds, you’ve been travelling a ton lately, gleaming it up across the country! What are your favourite cities to visit?
Melanie: New York City! Love, love, love NY! I also loved Toronto, Dallas and Chicago.
Looking so forward to Vancouver in August. I just know I will fall in love. [I think you will too, Mel!]
K: As an entrepreneur, what advice would you give to others wanting to pursue their passion?
Melanie: Do it! Start somewhere. Don’t just dream, wake-up and act on your dreams, even if you are working for free.
K: What’s the most challenging part of running your own business? And the most rewarding?
Melanie: Well, funding is the hardest. We are a small, 4 person operation and we all wear so many hats.
Also, just keeping on top of my household – I have an 11 year old daughter and work freelance and set jobs where I can be tied up all day for up to 15-17 hours. Working all the different facets of a cosmetic business keeps things interesting- everything from labels, the formula, tubes, website, shipping, sales, displays, graphics, photoshoots PR, tradeshows … I could go on and on.
It’s NOT easy and I had NO idea what I was getting myself into.
But the rewarding part is that I get to produce something people LOVE. Inspiring others, and just making it all come alive!
K: What does a typical day in the life of Melanie Mills look like?
Melanie: I usually wake up at around 4-5 am and just can’t go back to sleep. So I lay in bed and email, email, email…
Then it’s getting my daughter up and out, hopefully hitting Pilates or a walk with our dog, or off to work on set. I do a lot of photoshoots and I’m on camera a lot too. If I’m on set all day, I’m attached to my iPhone emailing and hustling while watching the set!
I do love to fit in a lunch with my boyfriend or friends when there’s time. Then it’s the tasks of just being a mom and trying to keep a clean and organized home. Organizing my daughter’s life and getting her everywhere she has to go. I joke that my car is my office!
K: Aside from Gleam, of course, every woman’s make-up drawer should also have…
Melanie: A great mascara, skin care, sunscreen, a beauty blender, a good concealer and lots of lip choices.
K: Complete this statement: I can’t live without …..
Melanie: …the cozy love of my home, and family, and dog Bella. My man Nick keeps me going and out of my head, and makes me laugh. My friends keep me sane.
Last, but not least, I sure do love my Cali Pinot Noirs. =) Let’s not get in to the designer shoes and bags!
Thank you Mel for taking the time to chat with us!
Gleam by Melanie Mills
Images courtesy of Melanie Mills.