Leading Ladies: UT alumna opens her own makeup business

Danielle Lopez

Roxanne McDanel picks up her blush brush and eye-shadow palette to makeover a smiling bride’s face. While this is a part of McDanel’s daily routine, what she really loves to do is make her clients look ugly.

“I love doing special effects makeup,” McDanel said. “Like bruising or sculpting fake hearts — I do that any chance I get.”

McDanel, a UT graduate with a degree in radio-television-film, works as a makeup artist for weddings, photo shoots and local films. McDanel used her admiration for movies and makeup to create her business, “Hey, Good Lookin’.”

“I knew I always wanted to go to UT, having grown up in the Austin area,” McDanel said. “When I first got there, I had the idea of doing film makeup, and once I got into [radio-television-film], I fell in love with it.”

McDanel spent most of her undergraduate career doing freelance work for beauty stores such as Pür Minerals. Her job as a freelancer entailed going to retail stores, holding demonstrations and representing the companies’ names.

“I really loved school, but it was really stressful,” McDanel said. “I was commuting every day, working one to two part-time jobs, and, every now and then, I’d help a friend with a student project. But overall, the experience was great.”

It wasn’t until McDanel found a job at Ulta that makeup became a possible career choice. 

“My logic had been, ‘I don’t wear makeup. I don’t like makeup, so I won’t be tempted to spend any money there,’” McDanel said. “But I started off as a cashier, then someone in the store saw potential in me, forced me to work the sales floor, and then I just fell into it quickly.”

After graduation, McDanel found a full-time job working for the cosmetics company Napolean Perdis Cosmetics. 

“Initially after graduating I felt like, ‘Yes, I have job. I’m beating the statistics,” McDanel said. “But, very quickly, I decided I hated that it was very focused on sales and not so much the artistry of it.”

When the company had to make cutbacks, McDanel lost her job. She said that it was the best thing that could have happened to her. 

“That forced me to get out and focus on what I really wanted to do,” McDanel said. 

McDanel created “Hey, Good Lookin’” over a year ago when she left Napolean Perdis Cosmetics. She started with photo shoots and events until she found work on her first local, indie film, “Funemployment.” Christine Chen, UT alumna and director of “Funemployment,” said McDanel’s film background makes her an asset on a film set. 

“[McDanel] is just so happy and positive and when you’re on long days on set,” Chen said. “That’s such a relief for the producers and directors. She stepped up to the plate and became lead makeup artist.”

McDanel said she plans to keep her business in Austin and hopes to find positions in larger film productions.

“I’ve found it’s best not to put yourself in one category because there’s not enough work to survive if you’re just doing one kind of makeup,” McDanel said. “But any time I get to do something untraditional is when I get most excited.”

Although her career isn’t exactly what she imagined it would be, McDanel said she’s happy things didn’t go as planned. 

“I went from the kind of regular job with a very set schedule to doing film and photo shoots where I’ll go work for three or 12 hours, in another city or state,” McDanel said. “It’s definitely made life more interesting and less predictable, and I love it.”