Episode 212: Mally Roncal, Celebrity Makeup Artist, President and Creator of Mally Beauty

Celebrity makeup artist, spokesperson, mother, salesperson, entrepreneur, soon to be author, oh my! Mally Roncal has done it all!

In this episode of WHERE BRAINS MEET BEAUTY™, Mally discusses how she has fulfilled and juggled all of these various roles throughout her career journey. Her well known optimistic energy shines through as she talks about making it through hardships, trusting her journey, learning from her mistakes and coming out a stronger version of herself because of it. Tune in to hear how her perseverance has turned every “you can’t” into “I can.”

Dan Hodgdon
Jodi KatzSo for all of our listeners, there’s a bunch of people here, please insert your questions into the comments. We do have a Q&A part of the show towards the end. So, insert them, and if we don’t get to all the questions, we’ll send them to Mally afterwards. She can answer them, and we’ll put the responses up on Stories. So, we will get to them, and don’t be shy. This is a career journey show. So, I know you all love Mally because you’ve known her for years and you love her spirituality and her incredible talent, but you might have a question about her career journey or what it feels like to move through her career journey that will help inspire you. So, please don’t be shy.
Okay. So now, Mally, we’re going to start the official recording, so when people download the episode in a few weeks, they won’t hear this green room stuff. They’re only going to hear from where I start right now, okay?
Mally RoncalGot it.
Jodi KatzSo I’m going to be a little bit more formal for a second before we jump into our questions.
Mally RoncalSure.
Jodi KatzOkay. Hi, everybody. Welcome to Where Brains Meet Beauty. This quarter, we’re stepping outside of the office and hitting the red carpet. We’re focusing on artistry—that’s our theme for the quarter—and meeting those beautiful brains behind all these incredible artistry looks. And our guests are innovating in new ways to embrace our own beauty. So, our goal is to highlight the career paths of these artists and celebrate their craft.
And our first guest of our artistry theme is a trailblazer of glam. Her clients over the years include Beyonce, J.Lo, RuPaul, Rihanna. She’s been on QVC for 17 years, and I’ve been watching her, I think, for all 17 years. And she’s got your back and your bouquet on your wedding day. So, please welcome Mally Roncal. You’re the makeup artist, president, and creator of Mally Beauty.
Mally RoncalYay. Hi! Yay, yay, yay, yay! I’m so happy to be here with you! I’m so excited. Thank you for having me.
Jodi KatzI feel like I’ve known you for so long, even though we’ve never met in person and this is the first time we’re talking because I’ve spent so many years watching you. It’s incredible.
Mally RoncalAw.
Jodi KatzYou must have so many people out there that say this to you.
Mally RoncalYou know what? It’s so funny, because I turned 50 this year, and I don’t—whatever 50’s supposed to feel like, I’m not really sure, but I don’t feel it. And I know—I’ve had the blessing and the honor of being on TV and doing all the things that I’ve been doing, spokesperson to creating a brand to selling it for so long. But it makes me laugh every time, and I see it as such a huge compliment. Thank you so much. But yeah, when I see beautiful young ladies like you and gentlemen, and come up to me and go, “Oh my gosh, I’ve been watching you since I was young! And I feel like I know you,” yeah, because for me, what you see is what you get, as you could see now. I’m here in my dressing room sitting here with you. And it’s the same way. I was literally just on QVC UK half an hour ago, and we sold out. Whoo whoo! Thank you. And I was doing the same exact thing. I mean, this is what you are, what I am. And I think that that’s part of the reason why I feel so blessed that I’ve been able to continue on this journey and be here, because it’s just the real thing. I can’t be fake and I can’t be one way on TV and off air another way. And trust me when I tell you, I mean this honestly, it’s not always that way.
Jodi KatzI’ve had some of these situations in the recording the podcast. I’ve had over, I guess, 200. I think you might be show 213 or 214.
Mally RoncalWow!
Jodi KatzA lot of episodes. I would say there’s only been two out of those 200-and-something where I was like, “Hm, that was not a human reaction to me asking a question.”
Mally RoncalOhh.
Jodi KatzSo most people really have been, I think—come to the show their authentic selves. But then I see some people turning it on in a way that they’re in the green room one way and they’re on the show the other. And I’m like, okay, you know. I’m not here to judge. I’m just here to learn.
Okay. We’re going to start with my favorite question, Mally, because this is a career journey show. There’s plenty of outlets where you can talk about your tips and tricks and products and formulas. But my whole purpose of starting this show is to really humanize our business and learn from people navigating—these are hard days, and every day is not easy. And I need to—it’s like free therapy for me.
Mally RoncalYeah.
Jodi KatzBut I start with this question. Think about your 11-year-old self. Back then, what did you want to be when you grow up?
Mally RoncalI wanted to be this. And I just didn’t know it, okay? Now let me just explain. I’ll go very quickly through this story because, as always, it’s kind of long. But anyway, I’m a daughter of Filipino immigrants that both were doctors. My dad is still with us. My mom passed away when I was 17. But the thing that was so interesting about it was my parents were both doctors. My mom was an obgyn. My dad is a psychiatrist. So, watching them and watching how they navigated through life and how everyone just loved them, and how everyone just adored them, I was like, oh, that’s what I have to do. I have to be a doctor because that’s what you do. People love you when you’re a doctor, and you get to love them back. That’s how it works.
However, I didn’t realize that being a doctor required, obviously, a lot more skill than I have. However, I always knew that I loved makeup. I loved makeup, I loved fashion, I loved putting makeup on people. I was not so great at doing people’s hair, although I would try. But I loved beauty and I loved all that. On the other hand, I also loved talking. I also loved making things, I loved selling things, I loved teaching people how to do their makeup. And I was obsessed with infomercials. I was obsessed with television, selling, QVC, the whole nine.
So, this was really kind of a part of my journey, what I was going to be, even though I didn’t know that that’s what I was going to be. But this has always been a part of my soul. I literally created this life for myself in my own mind, because at the time, there were not a lot of people doing—in all honesty, when I started doing what I was doing, there was nobody actually doing exactly what I was doing. So, I just made it up as I went along.
Jodi KatzSo, usually I kind of start at the beginning, leaving high school, career journey. But I want to actually start more recent because you had a really challenging time a few years ago in your business that it speaks to me in so many ways, Mally, because as an entrepreneur myself, the fear of financial insecurity is what follows me around. It’s like the shadow man. And you went through a situation that was really dire, bankruptcy level in the business. And you’re such a spiritual person, and you always seem so optimistic. I’d love to hear about what were the feelings in that moment, in those weeks where it was all about lawyers. Can you take us back to how you were dealing with that as an entrepreneur?
Mally RoncalWell, there really are no words to describe how that time feels. As a matter of fact, I’m writing a book. So get ready, because we’re really going to dig into that. Because it’s actually something, between you and me, something that I have not been able to talk about until recently because of the pain and the fear and the worry and the shame that I went through during that situation. And I will never say why we think that happened. I do believe that I made a lot of mistakes in trust, and I’m just going to say that in a very loose, loose—loosely, that maybe I trusted the wrong people. And that’s something that we all, think not only as entrepreneurs and as optimists and as empaths and as also women, that we tend to do. We want to see the best in people. We want to see that they love us and they care as much as we do. And oftentimes, they don’t, especially when it’s your name on something.
So, it’s been a very, very—it was a very challenging period. However, and I know this is going to sound absolutely crazy, but I don’t know if I would change it. And I don’t mean that in the way that was—I just mean that this is what God’s journey was for me, and how we have to continue to fight through those hardest days so that we can become our best and our strongest self. So, there are some things that I’ll tell you, but again, you’re going to have to wait for the book, because that’s a whole other part of the life that was just completely—there were a lot of things that kept me going through that time.
And yes, it was faith. Yes, it was optimism. I had awful days. I had very little kids who didn’t understand what was going on. So, you have to stay strong and stay positive all the time to show that you can make it through hard times. And it’s something that you just have to say to yourself, “Okay, this is awful. This is not what I planned. But this is what’s going to make us stronger and fiercer and smarter.” And that’s exactly what it did for us.
Jodi KatzSo, Mally—
Mally RoncalAnd also—
Jodi KatzOh, please, go ahead.
Mally RoncalWell, and it helps you to open your mind and your horizons, because there’s the quote that’s like, “You make plans, and then God laughs,” right? And it’s exactly true. It’s exactly true. And you have to just trust your journey and trust the gifts that are given inside of you. And another thing that you have to remember is you can’t forget who you are. Your business is not you, right? And the changes, the things that happen that you did not have control of, or maybe you just overlooked or you didn’t see, this is the opportunity now that you have when you get another chance, which, thank you God, we did, and that’s why I don’t play around at all anymore. It’s a completely different story now. You learn from your mistakes. You don’t make them again.
Jodi KatzMally, you used the word “shame.” I’m curious why.
Mally RoncalBecause it’s a hard thing to say that you didn’t succeed in what you planned on succeeding in. That’s very, very hard. And especially when your whole brand is about joy and choosing joy, and living life to the fullest, and literally embracing every day. My mom was diagnosed with breast cancer before I turned one year old, and they gave her six months to live. And she lived for 17 years. And that was all by pure heart, by prayer, by faith, by all of—by looking at me literally almost every day, now in retrospect, of course I wouldn’t change a thing. But she would say, “I’m here because I’m not going anywhere until I see that you’re okay. This is my mission, this is my joy, to watch you grow up.”
So, I was raised with that philosophy, not only in life but in business. Live each day as if it were your last. Go out there and give it 110 no matter what. So, to have that as being your mission and then not doing it right, right, or the way it was supposed to be done is hard. It’s hard. And also, too, I think as entrepreneurs, we’re very hard on ourselves in everything that we do, so. And we want to be perfect, and want to be perfect all the time. And that’s just not how it works.
Jodi KatzYou’re not alone in the trusting people as an entrepreneur. I’ve had several other guests tell stories. Some of them, they can’t go into too much detail to because of legal consequences.
Mally RoncalSure.
Jodi KatzBut I think about all the things I don’t want to do in my business. I don’t want to do everything. Some things are just not my jam, right?
Mally RoncalYeah. Yeah.
Jodi KatzAnd you have to trust people. There’s no way to move through scaling a business— and scaling could be all different things for different people—without leaning on others. So, I guess I think—
Mally RoncalUh-oh.
Jodi KatzCan you hear me?
Mally RoncalSomething’s going on. See, this is where we’re the guinea pigs. Hold on, please. We’re going to [inaudible] [00:23:10], so stand by. Hold on.
Jodi KatzAnd I want to say hi to everybody who’s joined us, all of Mally’s fans. And it’s nice to meet you all, because you might not be aware of Where Brains Meet Beauty podcast, and this is where we have career journey conversations with influential people in the beauty and wellness industries.
Mally RoncalYes.
Jodi KatzOkay, great!
Mally RoncalHold on. Okay, here we go. All right.
Jodi KatzOkay. So, out of curiosity, what happened?
Mally Roncal[Inaudible]
Jodi KatzNo, I mean on the feed, what just happened with your connection?
Mally Roncal
Jodi KatzOh! I don’t know. It was a very sort of—it just stopped, and then my AirPods stopped, and your voice came through my telephone. So then I turned it off, and I put on the what’s it called, the Do Not Disturb, and then everything’s good. We’re all good. Yeah.
Mally RoncalOkay. Let’s talk about this idea of trusting people. You have to. You can’t run a business without trusting people.
Jodi KatzOf course.
Mally RoncalSo, what have you learned about, I guess, trusting people from that experience that you’re using now in the business in the way it’s built now?
Jodi KatzThat’s a good question, actually. Because you know what I’ve learned? I was going to say something completely different from what’s about to come out of my mouth. Don’t change anything. You can’t. You still have to be you. You have to be who you are. Because there have been lots of times—my dad is such a—we call him Confucius. He’s like the most amazing, incredible, smart—you could be stressing about something so bad, and he’s really different than I am and very peaceful and zen and whatever. And you’re like, “Oh man,” like you’re going crazy over something. And I’ll call him all the time and ask him, and he’ll be like—he’ll sit quietly for a minute, and then he’ll say three words, and you’re, “Yes, that’s exactly right!”
And I’ve talked to him so many times because not just in business, but of course, remember, before Mally Beauty, I was a celebrity makeup artist for many, many years. I had an amazing agent, and we worked together to create this incredible career that was trailblazing in its own way, in the sense that I was Asian American female. I became a very—I was a hardworking and very busy makeup artist for many, many years, and I didn’t go to Europe. I didn’t do all those paths that you kind of have to do, you know what I mean? So, that was a whole other thing.
But in my journey of my many careers, because I’ve done a lot, and I currently do a lot of things, right, you meet a lot of people. And some people, you really connect with and you love, and some people are not exactly what they seem, and you don’t trust them, or they burn you or whatever. And then you say, “Well, I’m going to stop being me, and I’m going to turn into a bitch. And I’m going to treat everybody like the way that person treated me,” and blah, blah, blah. And it makes you sometimes want to turn sour. And my dad would say to me, “No. You don’t change a thing about who you are. Just because this situation happened, you still”—he’d say things like, “Do you trust your gut? Do you listen to your journey? Do you pray? Do you do all these things? You can’t change that.”
So, it’s a good question. I don’t know. Can you hear them talking over there? No? Okay, good. All right. Because I was about to yell and tell them to be quiet. In true mommy fashion, I was going to do it. Anyway.
Mally RoncalSo, Mally, this is so interesting. Let’s talk about artistry, because being such a high-level makeup artist with all these very significant celebrity clients, the world of artistry revolves around the talent, right? You need a face to put your talent onto. And it makes me think of this topic that’s very meaningful to me, which is the seduction of success, right? Any time the phone call reached that agent and there was an opportunity, you were probably faced with, do I go to my friend’s wedding or do I follow so-and-so to whatever the concert is or event or moment?
Jodi KatzYes.
Mally RoncalI feel like in all the parts of this industry, the seduction of success is the most intense for artists who work with talent. Would you agree that there’s always these decisions to be made when you’re doing artistry on notable talent like that?
Jodi Katz
Mally RoncalSo, Mally, this is so interesting. Let’s talk about artistry, because being such a high-level makeup artist with all these very significant celebrity clients, the world of artistry revolves around the talent, right? You need a face to put your talent onto. And it makes me think of this topic that’s very meaningful to me, which is the seduction of success, right? Any time the phone call reached that agent and there was an opportunity, you were probably faced with, do I go to my friend’s wedding or do I follow so-and-so to whatever the concert is or event or moment?
Jodi KatzSo, every decision to get back on the plane, you knew was an investment in your future.
Mally RoncalEven though some of them were a little torturous and painful. Some of those flights were tough.
Jodi KatzMany of them were. Many of them were. It’s so funny, I just went to lunch with my agent, who is still my agent now decades later. We’re still—he’s Vivian’s godfather. We’ve been together forever. And I was teasing him. And I was like, “You killed me. You literally killed me.” He’s like, “Yes.” He’s like, “But the world needed to see you. The world needed to have you, and I knew that. And I knew that the bigger we made you and the more people you touched, and the more TV we put you on, and the more spokesperson gigs we got you, and the more—that the world would be able to experience Mally. And that was my job. That’s what God told me to do, was to share love through you. And that’s why I did it.” And then I said, “Right, and I made you a shit ton of money.” And he said, “That too!”
Mally RoncalWell, how amazing it is to have somebody see in you a mission, sometimes beyond what you know in that moment, right, maybe because you’re stressed and tired. The mission was do great makeup, right? But he’s seeing something a little bit bigger. I do love that you were doing this work at a time, like you said, where the fashion end of beauty was really what was celebrated and seen as the best. And here you’re saying you skipped that. You did it your own way. And if I think back to that time period, you really ushered in a different set of credentials for makeup artistry. Because it really was all fashion for so long.
Jodi Katz
Mally RoncalI love it. Okay, I want to let you know who has been messaging us through this conversation, so many fans.
Jodi KatzOh, yes, yes.
Mally RoncalSo, [?NisaLenny] said some lovely things. MZTrish99 said, “Who else can you rely on for makeup tips? Nobody.” So, thank you for writing in, and lots and lots of hearts. HeroCameron18 gave us a shout-out. There’s so many people here. Happyinlove3, “Mally, you are so beautiful and inspiring.” That’s so sweet.
Jodi KatzAw. Love you. Thank you.
Mally RoncalAnd then, “More people need to hear you listen”—hear you—I think she meant to say, “More people need to listen to you.” So, that was Trish99. And let me just see who else is here. Lots of waves. “Hi from Colorado.” That’s ColoradoTink.tl, so hello to you.
Jodi KatzHi.
Mally RoncalYeah.
Jodi KatzAnd okay. I want to end this part of our conversation with, I guess, understanding your goal for every day. My goal every day as an entrepreneur wearing multiple hats is serenity. That’s all I want, is serenity.
Mally RoncalI’m curious what you aim for on a daily basis.
Jodi Katz
Mally RoncalWhen does the book come out? I need to know when this—when I can read this book.
Jodi KatzI’m not… Soon. I’ll let you know. [Crosstalk]
Mally RoncalOkay. Is it like 2023?
Jodi KatzMaybe.
Mally RoncalOkay. Like maybe 2022 or maybe 2024?
Jodi KatzMaybe 2024.
Mally RoncalOkay. Well, I want an advance reader, please.
Jodi KatzOf course. Of course.
Mally RoncalAnd DanteYancy is saying, “Checking, check, check.”
Jodi KatzThank you.

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