PatrickStarrr comes home: The trials and triumphs of the famous beauty guru
Patrick Simondac, who we know as the fabulous Youtube beauty guru PatrickStarrr, admits that his journey was full of guilt. He was the son of Filipino immigrants who wanted him to go for a traditional job. It was difficult for such a non-traditional person to both make his fantasies real and be a ‘good example’ to his two brothers. “[When I was] 14 or 15, when I was shaping my identity, [it] was really hard because my parents wanted me to do one thing and I was fighting so hard,” he recounts over our interview.
Patrick worked hard at a young age to make his fantasies real. After finishing high school, he worked at a bakery and did freelance photography, and moved on to be an artist at MAC while he was working on his nursing degree, dreaming of one day meeting the creatives from America’s Next Top Model, the runways, fashion shows, and publications like Vogue.
Despite wanting to pursue a career in makeup, it was difficult for him to defy his parents’ wishes. Patrick reflects: “You don’t want to disappoint your parents. But it looks bad before it looks good. That’s like makeup…my identity looked bad before it looked good. My dad would say, ‘Ay ang gastos-gastos ng makeup! Sayang ang kwarta. Why are you buying that makeup? Waste!’” He would answer, “‘Pero Dad if I buy expensive makeup puwede akong mag-charge [nang] more expensive. And gusto ko ng better quality camera so I can film better quality videos.’ That was really hard for me to fight against my own parents… [and] having the pressures of being the eldest son of three… I got my community college degree, but I didn’t finish my Bachelors [degree]. Oh my God, I didn't wanna be that bad example.”
He wanted to show his parents that coming to America was “worth it.” And so, he continued onto his chosen path that strayed from his parents’ wishes. “I really wanted to pursue something greater,” he says. “I would watch America’s Next Top Model and wanted to do photoshoots and recreate pictures. And I think all of these things that I wanted to do at a young age, I managed to [do it] myself; with my own camera, with my own makeup, with my own editing, and smooshing into what we now know as a beauty blogger.”
“I remember when I worked [at Panera, the bakery,] that the dishwasher was just, like, this guy that was washing dishes. And then I went to work at MAC, and then I came back two years later…he became the manager. And I said, ‘why?’ But it made perfect sense. If the dishwasher breaks he works to [fix it]. He takes out the trash. He learned how to make the sandwiches, the soups, bake the bread. He knew every aspect of that company, and I said, ‘That's me. I’m PatrickStarrr. I know how to edit. I know how to shoot. I know how to market. I know how to speak. I’m a great people person. I know how to educate properly.’”
Creating the collection
Patrick’s philosophy of ‘makeup is a one size fits all’ permeates his decisions in creating his collection. “I wanted [the powder] to be translucent and to be every-skin-tone-friendly, so that was the main challenge. I still wanted the durability of the powder so I really had a unicorn wish list. I asked to see a unicorn and they put it in a jar for me. We went through so many revisions: colors, I was testing it, slapping it on my face in videos and wear and tear until I think I look good,” he chuckles and adds, “not just for skin-tones, but skin types, skin textures. I wanted it to be MAC’s credo in a jar. All sexes, all ages, all races. That’s what I wanted in a jar. I wanted it to work for my mom. I wanted it to work for my gays, my mumshies.”
As MAC’s key artist collaborator for 2018, he wanted to create essentials before moving to more adventurous colorways. Patrick describes the consumer in mind: “these are colors that everyone can wear because I know that not everyone knows who I am… for the lolas out there that don’t know [me]. These are great colors that a woman just walking by could wear. I was thinking of someone walking around at Nordstrom or Macy’s or Saks. I was also taking that consumer into consideration and these are just beautiful warm tones that could suit everyone.”
What’s different here is that he was tasked to not only to curate and create colors for the collection, but also to direct his shoots for the promotional materials. Patrick recounts: “The images were the most difficult but the most rewarding - to see it come to life. But also to have MAC’s approval, to give this trust in me. They don’t know me; they only [knew] me as this Youtuber. They dubbed me as my own creative director for these shoots. This image behind me,” pointing to his campaign photo, “I went to Ikea and bought two mirrors. And my brother is behind one, and my producer is behind the other one, supporting me, leaning, hoping that I don’t fall on them. And I bought all these rhinestones, all these appliqués, and flew out a drag queen, Lashauwn Beyond, from RuPaul’s Drag Race…I bought 50 pounds worth of crystals and she glued it. I almost passed out in this photoshoot trying to look fabulous and everything.”
But beyond creating fabulous collections with international brands and shooting sparkly promotional material, Patrick is thankful and proud of his platform. “I literally get e-mails and messages almost everyday like, ‘I got kicked out,’ or ‘someone beat me.’ They look to my channel or my social media as refuge. And that’s beyond the lashes that I wear. Beyond the makeup. Beyond the lipstick. And for MAC to trust me, [for] MAC to amplify my persona, my messaging, my meaning, we’re changing lives one at a time. This is for unconventional parents too, that don’t accept their children. “Ay sino ‘yan?” “That’s PatrickStarrr. Grabeng fierce!” It’s really cool when parents walk [around] the mall and see this plus-sized, tan, Filipino man wearing a turban. That’s life-changing. And even if it’s for other children to see, it will start to normalize all types of beauty, to become equal.”
Coming full circle
Still, there are times when the guilt of living as a son to immigrant parents fuels Patrick’s fire. He becomes emotional as he remembers his mother’s sacrifice and advice: “The best tip that I’ve learned from [MamaStarrr] is ‘don’t wait for tomorrow what you can do today.’ Because if I had waited, I wouldn’t have this career. She hadn’t seen her mom [in] 30 years, you know? She sacrificed so much so much for us that when we landed [in the Philippines] my lola passed away. And so it’s like a burden that she took care of us for so long that she couldn’t see her own mother.” Patrick pauses, blotting tears.
“She sacrificed so much and you know…I felt a little guilty because she was taking care of me. And so that’s why I think it’s so special for me to take them here to the Philippines to celebrate what they’ve created, which is this… fatass, beautiful bitch, you know? And sometimes I don’t have time to stop and smell the roses. Sometimes when I look back I’m like, ‘Wow! I’ve collaborated with the biggest celebrities on this earth. The most beautiful people: Pia [Wurtzbach], Kim [Kardashian], Katy [Perry], my mom.’ And so I think that really resonates, that hard work does pay off and that I didn’t wait another day.”
And yet, despite the guilt, Patrick thanks his God for having him in His plans. Excited, he recalls the moment where his dreams from when he was young came full circle: “[On] the day of my launch on December 13 (2017) - you know my inspirations have been America’s Next Top Model, those makeover shows on TV - Tyra [Banks] asked me to be on America’s Next Top Model. So that in itself was like, ‘salamat sa Diyos!’
It seems like many things are slated for the Youtube star, with 3.5 million subscribers, collaborations with celebrities, appearances on television, and being MAC’s key artist collaborator coming out with more collections this year. But at the end of the day, when asked about his plans for the future, he states that he simply wants to continue doing what he’s doing - being the refuge, the guiding starrr to those looking for beauty in places that were not found before but are certainly here to stay.
Art by Samantha Gonzales
Photography by Samantha Gonzales, with select photos courtesy of MAC Philippines