The most influential people inspire by example, armed with grit, determination and the ability to overcome adversity. Colorado native, Cha Cha Romero, is one of those people. Surrounded by racism as a kid, Romero developed a tough exterior that gave her tenacity.
“I was always the unique outcast as a kid. Nobody could relate to my creative mind or fashion. I grew up fast, started living on my own at 16 and lived more life in my teens than many people do in their 30s. Made me tough and independent. Maybe that’s why I’m not afraid to live life. I’m thankful for all my experiences — good and bad. They molded me for success.”
Now, the 2016-2017 303 Magazine Makeup Artist of the Year balances two careers, one as an ER nurse and the other as the creator of Vanity Dollz. Both require passion and the ability to add positivity to people’s lives. It’s not an easy task, but Romero has never backed away from a challenge.
303: How did you launch your career as an artist?
Cha Cha Romero: I just knew that I wanted to create and give name to my art. I wanted to show people my capability. I’ve had plenty of rejection and some things come full circle. What I mean by that, you push until those people finally come to you and say yes! I’ve never been one to take “NO” for my answer. I keep going and do my own thing to get those desired results. I work hard. I’m dedicated and loyal to the core.
303: When did you become a nurse? Why the ER?
CR: Honestly, nursing was my number one passion. I wanted to help people. Emergency Medicine is AMAZING, you never stop learning and it keeps you on your toes. The feeling of giving life back to someone is something that I cannot explain. I love my career and my co-workers. You have to trust each other in order to save lives and this type of bond is badass!!
303: How do you deal with the intensity of the ER?
CR: You have to get in a different mindset, otherwise it will eat you alive. Grow that tough skin and no doubt I have it! Some people might find it to be cold or abrupt, but they have no idea what you deal with every shift. The way you cope is everything! I’m so glad to have my artistic outlet, to push all that energy into.
303: Describe the process you go through when creating new looks.
CR: I’m type A personality. I’m very organized. I come up with ideas and log them. I pull them out when the time is right. I’m all about head to toe details. I love the WOW factor. Give someone those feel-good vibes. I also have one amazing Vanity Dollz Beauty Team. I’m thankful the trust my leadership, even if I make them start all over when looks are not cohesive. I love how as a team and we get excited when everything falls together. Sometimes it’s hard to describe what’s going on in my head…
303: Where do you find inspiration?
CR: I find it from many different places. Artists/Designers/Colors/Shapes/Themes. Most come from dreams and I write them down.
303: How do you feel makeup transforms people?
CR: We look in the mirror every day and we know our face. When my model/client looks in the mirror and says “wow I don’t recognize myself” you know you’ve done things right. I just LOVE the art of transformation and pushing people to live outside the box.
303: What do you think the connection is between makeup and fashion?
CR: You can have a naked face with beautiful clothes or beautifully painted face with a naked body and get amazing results. When you add fashion, hair and make-up this combo packs a powerful punch!!
303: How do you express yourself through your style?
CR: I have my own style, it’s called BLACK. I wear all BLACK all the time. I love shoes, accessories, bags and sunglasses. I like having BOLD statement pieces. I’m not much for trends and I would gag if I had to wear floral print. I like hardware( spikes/chains). HOWEVER, I do love dressing retro. I feel so classy when I’m draped in 1940s… Honestly you never know what I might step out wearing, but I’m pretty sure it will be different.
303: What do you think of Denver’s fashion scene? How do you think you’re contributing?
CR: I have always said Colorado’s fashions scene is a best-kept secret. So many talented people waiting to be discovered. I don’t think you need to be in L.A. or N.Y. because we have some serious high fashion talent right here. I’m thankful for Denver Fashion Week and Charlie Price who give us a PROFESSIONAL platform to showcase our work. I contribute by providing whatever opportunities I can and pushing people to achieve their goals. I do as I say and say as I do…
303: What is your advice for people who want to have a career in fashion and makeup artistry?
CR: Invest in good products. Be professional and organized. Keep your kits clean. While creating, take a chance and do things that people have not seen. Stay focused, dedicated and don’t give up. Be open-minded to learn and take creative criticism, without having meltdowns on social media. That only makes you look crazy and nobody wants to work with crazy. Lastly, always appreciate opportunities and helping hands. Don’t bite the hand that helps you.
303: What can Denver expect from you in 2018?
CR: People will have to stay posted. I have a lot on my plate and I’m excited to do some new projects … My best advice, you can be a victim or be victorious. Make life what you want. Don’t talk about it do it!
Be the best version of you and don’t give two f*cks what anyone thinks. Don’t live in a box, only the dead spend eternity in a box…
All photography by Meg O’Neill.