How Latasha McRae Came Back From A Near-Death Experience To Launch Peeks Cosmetics
Latasha McRae’s life took an unexpected and nearly fatal turn in 2003. But in her battle back from a near-death experience, McRae fulfilled a longtime entrepreneurial dream and started her own makeup company, Peeks Cosmetics.
New Jersey native McRae had always been frustrated with the lack of African-American beauty brands and she started Peeks Cosmetics to help fill the void, funding the venture with the help of family and friends. Today, the brand offers numerous products from nail shiners and matte lipsticks to Vitamin E lip glosses and mint-infused liquid lipsticks (lip blasters).
Initially, McRae was in the film industry, having pursued an associate’s degree in Science for Film and Video Production at Full Sail University in 2001. But shortly after obtaining her degree in 2003, McRae fell into a coma for three weeks and it took her two intense years to fully recover. After learning to walk and talk again, McRae left the hospital with a new determination to open her own business. She went back to school, this time the University of Phoenix to continue her education, and earned a Bachelor’s of Science degree in Business Management in 2007. Here McRae shares her battle with MadameNoire and how she won.
MadameNoire (MN): What prompted you to launch Peeks Cosmetics?
Latasha McRae (LM): I started Peeks Cosmetics because throughout my near-death experience and long recovery process, makeup made me feel bright on some of my darkest days. Because makeup helped me feel more secure, I wanted to create Peeks in hopes that my products can bring someone more self-confidence.
MN: What makes Peeks different from other beauty companies?
LM: The fact that I own Peeks makes it unique. When you experience Peeks for yourself you’re not just getting makeup you’re getting me, every color that’s chosen by me. You’re getting my thoughts, my emotions, every aspect of me is in this company.
MN: You went through a near-death experience some years ago. Can you tell us what happened?
LM: I went for a one-day procedure to remove a fibroid and cyst from my ovaries and the doctor snipped my intestines and left a hole in my intestines which caused a leakage in my body. I went into shock and I aspirated on the ER table and went into a medically induced coma for three weeks.
MN: How did that experience change your life?
LM: What happened to me changed my life because I had to learn how to walk and talk all over again. It was hard for me and my family to see me the way I was. I went from a healthy, vibrant young girl to someone that needed around the clock care. I was scared and depressed because I didn’t understand why? How? But I knew I couldn’t stay in that mind frame for too long and no one around me was going to let me do that either so I had to pick myself up and continue on with my life as I did before. It was hard but I did it!
MN: Has your experience in the film business helped you in the beauty world?
LM: Yes and no. Yes, because it pushed me to learn more about cosmetics and I ended up falling in love with it. Through that, makeup has become a big part of not only my career but my life as well. But I also say no because I’m not working in the film industry and it’s fun to do makeup in the film industry and also very overwhelming at the same time.
MN: Would you return to that industry?
LM: I do like the film industry but I really wasn’t sure if that’s the route I wanted to go. While I was in film school we had to take a special effects makeup class and that’s what really sparked my interest more in makeup. At this time, I’m not returning to the film world. It was fun and I learned a lot but you never know where life will take you.
MN: What’s your best seller?
LM: Peeks Cosmetics’ bestseller is our liquid lipstick in “Mystery.” The high-intensity color and moisturizing agents provide long-lasting, vibrant, and absolutely gorgeous lip color. The lightweight formula applies smoothly and dries down to full matte and keeps your mouth looking and feeling kissable all day!
MN: What are your goals for 2017?
LM: The plan for 2017 is to launch a lot of new products and get the word out about Peeks Cosmetics.
MN: What would you like people to come away with from your experience?
LM: I want people to feel what I went through and how I overcame my experience and say that I’m a strong woman and I don’t give up, in hopes that my story inspires women to overcome obstacles they have been fighting. If my story inspires at least, one person, it will all be worth it. Don’t give up because what’s meant for you will happen, just keep striving to do your best.