Born in east LA: la belleza de Sweet Street
Jody Miller talks to the founders of Sweet Street Cosmetics about Latinx legacy and homegirl glam
You’ve seen her. Maybe she was your bestie who always ignited that surreptitious throb of envy. Perhaps you passed her in the hallway between class, furtively checking her out with a dubious beat of fear and admiration. You wished you looked like her—that strange and subversive glamour. You wanted to ask her how she did her eyeliner, but intimation kept you quiet. Now that you know her, she’s your heroine and your homegirl. She taught you how to wear a cat-eye like a queen and how to get the bad boy and keep him.
Having already collaborated on accessory and fashion brands Bella Doña and Honey B Gold, artist–fashion designer Natalia Durazo and recording artist LaLa Romero knew what was missing from the world of make-up and where they needed to be.
‘From the inception of Sweet Street we felt confident there was a space wide open for us in the beauty industry because our story wasn’t being told,’ says Romero. ‘We are here to represent generational and neighbourhood beauty, something we haven’t seen before.’
Sweet Street does not merely pay homage to the Chicana æsthetic that emerged and thrives in southern California. It is a continuance of the legacy to which Durazo, Romero, and hundreds of thousands, if not millions, of women who are the benefactors to the strength, resourcefulness, and creativity of their predecessors.
‘For us, it’s really about crediting the neighbourhood and the people there—the women who have been doing these things for generations,’ explains Romero. ‘We are here to showcase the beauty and traditions that originate in the neighborhoods we grew up in.’
‘There are so many beauty rituals and nuances that are unique and bind women of colour who grew up in the neighbourhood,’ proclaim the Sweet Street duo. Both Durazo and Romero recall how they learned make-up tips from their Mamas, abuelitas, and tias, and encourage young women to scroll through old family albums and rediscover what these remarkable women before them have passed down. ‘I still use some techniques my mom taught me, like shaping my eyebrows with a double-edged blade,’ says Durazo, who also learned some helpful little tricks from her cousins in Méico, such as utilizing a spoon as a lash curler.
While the Sweet Street vision is about celebrating all the extraordinary women that preceded us, it is anything but about rigid boundaries, colours, and lifestyles. Sweet Street was created with every beauty and every body in mind. ‘Sweet Street is here to represent all the beauties from every ethnicity and background,’ asserts Romero. In the world of self-expression, limitations exist only in the mind.
Sweet Street may be a young brand, but their two initial launches have already attained cult status that put the competition to shame. Wing Queen Eyeliner is the only product you will ever need to create wings of cinematic proportion, while the too-pigmented-for-your-own-good Thick & Thin lip liner and colour duos may intimidate novice queens, but the colour payoff is well worth the initiation ritual.
New to the neighbourhood is the LA Lady Palette. Inspired by their city of origin where vintage glamour co-mingles with audacious street style, the eight-shade compact includes matte black, coppery-browns, beams of spellbinding shimmer plus a highlighting cream that will enhance every skin tone from day to late night.
Newly launched is the Always ’n’ Forever Liquid Lipstick, hyper-pigmented with a dual-tipped applicator to precisely line and build valiant, irrepressible colour. With names like Sad Girl and 1993, these vitamin-infused, soft-matte lip colours are a wing queen’s dream come true.
Visit Street Street Cosmetics at www.sweetstreetcosmetics.com.