Selena make-up set selling like hot cakes

NEW YORK • One morning last month, Ms Maria Herrera, a 28-year-old make-up artist, got in line outside the M.A.C store in downtown Chicago. It was 1.30am. There were already 18 people ahead of her waiting to buy a limited-edition make-up collection inspired by the late Mexican-American singer Selena Quintanilla Perez. By 9.30am, their numbers had grown by dozens.

"Someone would go get snacks; someone else would go to Starbucks to charge phones," Ms Herrera said. "When it rained, we shared umbrellas and a plastic tarp. We bonded and were all so happy."

The Chicago throng was among thousands of fans of Perez who took off work, camped out at stores and sent friends, husbands and fiances to get a piece of M.A.C Selena.

The 18-piece collection of lipsticks, a gloss, eye shadows and a face powder compact in purple packaging (Selena's favourite colour) sold out in five hours online. At some stores, it sold out in an hour.

"People were coming up to me asking: 'What is this Selena collection? I don't even follow M.A.C, but it's trending'," said Ms Catherine Bomboy Dougherty, senior vice- president for global communications at M.A.C Cosmetics. "We were saying it broke the Internet for us."

In a first for the company, M.A.C has an online wait-list and plans to restock the collection in early January. Resellers on eBay are asking up to US$1,000 (S$1,390) for the complete set. The retail price is US$228.

Items from the M.A.C Selena make-up collection, inspired by the late singer Selena Quintanilla Perez.
Items from the M.A.C Selena make-up collection, inspired by the late singer Selena Quintanilla Perez. PHOTO: NYTIMES

Selena, with her family band, Selena y Los Dinos, was one of the biggest Tejano acts of all time.

But why can the singer, murdered in 1995 at age 23 by an estranged former employee, still galvanise, inspire and, ultimately, sell?

In a way, what happened is not surprising. M.A.C Selena came to be through the will of her fans.

About two years ago, Mr Jose Antonio Figueroa, a make-up artist based in Las Vegas, mocked up faux packaging for a Selena M.A.C collection. "Around this time, M.A.C had a Cinderella collection and one with a jewellery designer," he said. "But I couldn't identify with that. Selena is my American icon."

His mock-up spread over the Internet and inspired Ms Patty Rodriguez, a radio producer and bilingual children's book publisher, to start a petition calling for a M.A.C Selena collection.

It received more than 37,000 signatures.

Ms Bomboy Dougherty said: "Eventually, we had 20 or 30 people outside our New York office with mood boards and signs. They had product names and ideas. I went out to talk to them, and at that point, I said, 'We have to do this'."

The company worked with the singer's family to design the collection. Her sister, Ms Suzette Quintanilla, still has Selena's make-up case. She sent images of the make-up Selena actually wore to the company, so it could match the colours.

Ms Quintanilla said: "People remember Selena and think of her beautiful smile. But I know Selena was never about herself. That is one reason we didn't put her photo all over the packaging. She would want to keep it simple."


A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on November 11, 2016, with the headline 'Selena make-up set selling like hot cakes'. Subscribe