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The Quinnipiac Chronicle

The Student News Site of Quinnipiac University

The Quinnipiac Chronicle

School of Communications alumna founds a mythology based makeup brand ‘Narcissus Beauty’

Narcissus fell in love with his own reflection, and became a warning tale against vanity. Ashley Cotto found her own spin on the story.
Ashley Cotto, an alumna of Quinnipiac University’s School of Communication, is the founder and owner of Narcissus Beauty, LLC. (Photo contributed by Ashley Cotto)

Narcissus is a figure in Greek mythology who was so beautiful he fell in love with his own reflection on a river surface. While there are many different tellings of this story, it always represents a warning against vanity. However, a Quinnipiac University alumna found a different meaning behind the tale. 

“We spin that story,” Ashley Cotto said. “We turn it into ‘Fall in love with your reflection’ in a positive way, beyond just what you see in the mirror.” 

Cotto founded Narcissus Beauty, LLC in 2021 as a mythology inspired makeup brand with products based on folklore, myths, legends and religious figures. 

Cotto graduated from the Quinnipiac School of Communications with her bachelor’s degree in journalism three years ago. Her passion for makeup ignited after she worked as a makeup artist on a student film, before the COVID-19 pandemic.  

“I was always really interested in makeup growing up,” Cotto said. “I was always distantly surrounded by it. After the pandemic hit, I just started taking it more seriously.”

Instead of pursuing a master’s degree, like her family wanted her to, she went a different route and got her makeup artist certification in July 2021 with the intention of eventually getting licensed. 

“Immediately after, something in my brain clicked,” Cotto said. “‘Oh you know what I should do? I should start my own makeup line.’”

And she did. Entirely self-funded from Cotto’s own savings, Narcissus Beauty celebrated three years mere weeks ago. 

Cotto created her products from scratch, testing all of the already existing makeup brands and figuring out what she liked or disliked about certain products, as well as reading reviews to create the best possible formulas for her own brand. 

“I bought the ingredients and kept everything super sterile,” Cotto said. “I was working in my studio that was in my living room, and then I sent it out to a bunch of my friends who agreed to try it on.”

Some of those friends, her fellow Quinnipiac alumni, still appear in her photoshoots to this day. 

So far, Narcissus Beauty offers a variety of lip products, as well as an eyeshadow palette — which was customly created by Cotto and is her current favorite product.

Cotto – who recently worked as a makeup artist for a SAG-AFTRA short film – wants to cater her products to more than just the general public.  

“My biggest thing is, I want to make our products as convenient as we can for other make-up artists,” Cotto said. “The products that I come out with, yes, I want them to feel luxurious and make you feel good about buying it, but I also want it to be convenient enough for traveling artists to use.” 

Narcissus Beauty carries 10 different shades of lip glosses, all based on various Greek mythology figures.
(Photo contributed by Ashley Cotto/Photo by Sasha Kay)

Aside from makeup, the brand’s website also offers various merchandise with the brand’s logo. Two months ago, it released pride-themed stickers and a portion of their sales is donated to the Trevor Project – an organization that works to combat suicide rates among LGBTQ+ youth. 

Cotto also said that she plans on creating makeup master classes for TikTok and her website. 

Cotto grew up surrounded by mythology and faith. Her mother is Catholic and her father follows an African religion based on the Seven African Powers, which fueled the idea behind her brand’s theme. 

“We need more representation in the beauty industry that goes beyond just skin color,” Cotto said. “Where we are so divided a lot of the time boils down to culture and religion. We want to go beyond just the surface level of what your reflection is, but what surrounds you, what you believe in, what your background is and who you are.”

She themed her business after Greek mythology, as she knew that would get popular fast.

Cotto said she would like to eventually move on from the Greeks to other mythologies, or as many as she can. 

“Obviously, we’re still gonna have some stuff that we come out with later on that are from Greek mythology but that’s not all we are,” Cotto said. “I want to do Norse, I want to do Celtic, Egyptology, all of these different things.”

She is also working on a Yoruba mythology line — the Seven African Powers — which honors her late father. 

Using her “journalism skills,” Cotto recently started the Narcissus Beauty Breakdown blog, which explains and details the stories and ingredients behind her products, and offers a suggestion form for customers to recommend a myth or a legend for her to use. 

While she is currently also employed as a news assistant and assignment editor at New York’s Fox 5, Cotto says her brand will soon become a full-time job for her. 

“It is so stressful to be doing everything,” Cotto said. “But I love it. This is my baby. I put all of my love, care and effort into it as much as I can.” 

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Alexandra Martinakova
Alexandra Martinakova, Editor-in-Chief

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    Ashley CottoApr 10, 2024 at 12:27 pm

    Beyond honored to have been thought about for this article 🫶🏽

    Much love for you and my team – we wouldn’t be here without them!