Say Gah! to Gloria Noto, the founder of the gender-inclusive natural cosmetic line, NOTO Botanics, and an expert makeup artist. She’s a Scorpio, Capricorn Rising, and knows nearly every single song lyric from the ‘90s, and currently lives east of Los Angeles in the mountains. A lover of makeup and the art of transformation since her childhood, Gloria has quickly become a leading voice for inclusivity in the clean beauty space and is setting a path inspired by her own experiences and the greats that have inspired her. Photos by Sophia Schrank.
LSG: Tell us about your start as a makeup artist—was there a time in your earlier years that connected you to the artistry of it and made you realize you have to do this?
GN: I remember watching my older sister and my mother layer makeup on in the mirrors in the ‘90s when I was a tiny kid. The look back then was thick dark lipliner, dark eyeliner, thin eyebrows. I would watch in slight amazement in the transformation that would come out of this practice. I think doing and knowing how to do makeup is something that was ingrained in me from a very young age.
My mom owned a store that sold clothing, and I would sit on the floor and draw the looks all day, which influenced my love of fashion, too. I realized I wanted to be a makeup artist when I was working at a thrift store while attending art school. Someone brought up a stack of books by makeup artist Kevyn Aucoin, and I knew at that moment I wanted to do THAT.
LSG: How did these experiences eventually lead you to start your own company?
GN: After a decade of doing the major hustle of makeup, signing with agents, doing celebrity and fashion work, and doing fashion week, I found myself standing back to look at it all. I asked myself: was there anything else I wanted to do with my life that would make me feel more connected to who I am as a person and what I want to give back into the world?
“I knew so many folx that cared about what they were putting on their bodies and cared about what they were using, but didn't see themselves reflected in the brands that were out there. I wanted to share mine and their stories.”
LSG: What inspired the ethos and mission of NOTO?
GN: I felt that I wasn't seeing representation in the clean beauty industry. 6-8 years ago, clean beauty was still a new concept in many ways, and diversity was not a part of that narrative. As a queer first generation woman, I felt that there were so many stories that needed to be told. I knew so many folx that cared about what they were putting on their bodies and cared about what they were using, but didn't see themselves reflected in the brands that were out there. I wanted to share mine and their stories.
LSG: Tell us a little bit about life outside of NOTO and your podcast, SHE/THEY/GAY!
GN: I wanted to connect with others in a bigger way during COVID lockdown, which led me to starting my podcast SHE/THEY/GAY. I invited my friend Simone Thompson to be my co-host, where we talk all things queer culture and concept. It's been such a fun way to engage in our community in a more thoughtful way. In many ways it has nothing to do with NOTO but in many ways, it also has everything to do with NOTO.
LSG: When do you feel most inspired to create? Is there something that makes you feel this way or is it feeling?
GN: It used to be when I was sad. I would write, paint, etc. Though lately, I've been the most creative when I am happy, charged up, and inspired by either what’s around me or my friends. Inspiration is a big factor in my life. I am always trying to figure out ways of creating inspiration and always feel like I need it to feel alive. It’s a bit of an addiction, I think!
LSG: What's next for Gloria + NOTO?
GN: To be honest, I’m not totally sure what's next for me. Right now, I am enjoying settling into my home, having after hours dinners at the NOTO store in Highland Park, and learning how to just BE.
NOTO also has a new color launching at the end of summer though, ha! So that's exciting!