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TIKTOK BEAUTY

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September 29, 2021

For information on enrollment and registration at Notre Dame, please visit the admissions section of our website here.

NDP alum turns theatre passion into growing social media fan base as the popular makeup influencer ‘Cosmetics Qween.’

When COVID-19 hit the United States, the performing arts community was turned on its head with many artists left furloughed as theatres, concert venues, and stages closed their doors. Like many of her peers, Erica Bommarito NDP’04, faced an uncertain future and mounting bills while living with her husband in Florida. Rather than giving up hope however, the 35-year-old theatre and dance major from Oakland University decided to lean into what she does best albeit in a very unfamiliar setting…social media.

Over a year later, that bet paid off and Bommarito, known as the “Cosmetics Qween” has more than 160,000 followers on TikTok (1.8 million likes), just over 4,000 followers on Instagram, and partnership deals with 20 cosmetics and skin care companies, including most recently L’Oréal.

“I never in my wildest dreams thought I would be a TikTok influencer,” Bommarito laughed. “I feel really old on that platform as a Gen X’er, but I’ve found a niche.”

Bommarito said the “insane growth” virtually overnight has been hard to process.

The limelight shines

Bommarito, a former resident of Clarkston, grew up as a competitive dancer and spent most of her high school career participating in theatre, choir, and dance at Notre Dame Prep. After graduating from college, she found her way to companies like Live Nation, Warped Tour, 89X radio, The Fillmore, iHeartMedia and Theatre Bizarre in Detroit.

“Working in entertainment has been a personal dream of mine but after I turned 30, suddenly I realized sleeping on smelly buses with a bunch of dudes all the time was not something I wanted to do for the rest of my life,” she said.

After meeting her fiancé at a dance studio in Birmingham, the couple decided to pack up and head south to Florida where Bommarito spent her time touring the country with a children’s dance company. However, after being furloughed during COVID, she found herself embracing a new path.

“I got bored one day last April and decided to do a quick video on TikTok showing off my beauty room and it just exploded,” she said.

The boost came from famed makeup artist Jeffree Starr, a mutual acquaintance Bommarito met during her Warped Tour days.

“He shared a video of his fans showing off their makeup collection and I was included. Within a day I had 80,000 likes on my page,” she said.

Soon packages from major companies and independent brands began approaching her to review, unbox and apply their products every week.

“I probably get 20 packages a week now and I’m posting on multiple platforms multiple times a week,” she said.

The success led to a partnership with the company Fatal Beauty to release her first products earlier this year. Her two makeup palettes are called “Step Right Up” and “Freak Show,” and they feature eyeshadows with names like “Bearded Lady” and “Snake Charmer.”

“They let me do everything, from picking out the colors to coming up with the names and overall look and feel of the products,” Bommarito said, adding that she has always been an avid fan of the “fun” and “macabre” side of the circus. Inspiration for the makeup line comes both from her time at Theatre Bizarre in Detroit and the fact that The Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Circus summer headquarters was in Sarasota, Fla.

“I thought, ‘What a cool way to marry my past with my present while honoring both places I love—Michigan and Florida,’” she said.

Dare to be different

One of Bommarito’s fondest memories of her high school days involves performing with fellow students either through choir concerts or musical theatre.

“I think my creativity in this (social media) space comes from my teachers—Mr. Kirby Smith, Mr. (David) Fazzini—which was ‘be free to be creative,’” she said. “They embraced the weird and let us take risks. They were very encouraging and taught us never to give up.”

Those lessons come into play when it comes to staying relevant on a platform that thrives on users’ interest changing.

“I’m trying to stay relevant. I’ve spent hours researching the business side of TikTok. That means getting creative with hashtags, studying algorithms, providing new and interesting content for followers, etc. It can be more than a full-time job,” Bommarito said. “I also have to be careful what I’m sharing and where for privacy and security reasons.

Trends change daily. For instance, ASMR (autonomous sensory meridian response), or the feeling of relaxation that is felt after listening to certain ‘trigger’ sounds is huge right now, she said.

“People are looking for a way to disconnect. ASMR is sound-driven. It takes you (to a state of calm) faster than any visual.”

To trigger an ASMR response, a video typically features “a kind or caring person giving personal attention to the viewer while speaking softly or whispering and creating gentle sounds with gentle movements.”

“When I’m putting makeup on, thousands tune-in. It’s insane!” Bommarito laughed.

At one point, Bommarito herself was connected to her accounts obsessively but has since told herself it is ok to step back.

“I’m getting married in October and right now I’m overwhelmed with wedding planning,” Bommarito said. “I will bring my fans along on that journey, but beyond that I’m not sure what the future holds.”

Notre Dame Prep theatre teacher Meredith Scott said she is tickled to see her former classmate and friend breakthrough the social media world online.

"Erica has always been an incredible artist. I was lucky enough to do a show with her five years ago with the Detroit Actor's Theatre Company, which was founded by another NDP alum, Michael Johns. It was so amazing to hear her sing again. Of course, she is still very dedicated to her craft.  Recently, we reconnected on TikTok. She has this insane makeup room that looks like something out of a movie. Her followers love her because she looks at makeup as a true art form. She is raw and real. People connect with that!" Scott said.

As far as her advice to students looking to break into the entertainment space, Bommarito says they must have an open mind and look for opportunities in unconventional places.

“It is not always a linear path. My be-all-end-all was always Broadway. What you think may bring you happiness in high school may not be where you end up,” she said. “Be open to other ways of being successful and have a little fun along the way.”

To connect with Bommarito, follow her on Twitter @cosmetics_qween or cosmetics_qween on TikTok.

For information on enrollment and registration at Notre Dame, please visit the admissions section of our website here.

Comments or questions? dlai@ndpma.org

Follow Notre Dame on Twitter at @NDPMA.

About Notre Dame Preparatory School and Marist Academy
Notre Dame Preparatory School and Marist Academy is a private, Catholic, independent, coeducational day school located in Oakland County. Notre Dame Preparatory School enrolls students in grades nine through twelve and has been named one of the nation's best 50 Catholic high schools (Acton Institute) four times since 2005. Notre Dame's middle and lower schools enroll students in pre-kindergarten through grade eight. All three schools are International Baccalaureate "World Schools." NDPMA is conducted by the Marist Fathers and Brothers and is accredited by the Independent Schools Association of the Central States and the National Association of Independent Schools. For more on Notre Dame Preparatory School and Marist Academy, visit the school’s home page at www.ndpma.org.

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