Tina Higgins isn’t really one for labels, but if forced to identify one, she’ll take artist over all the others–stylist, producer, beauty expert, titles that have seen her through a fifteen-year career in the beauty and fashion industries. Now, she’s the CEO of Mingle Cosmetics and even though she’s one of Cherry Creek’s proud female entrepreneurs, her identity lies in creation. There’s nothing surprising about the fact that Tina’s career culminated in the production of her own makeup line. It’s what she always wanted to do–in fact, even before it was a conscious goal, it’s what she’s always been doing. Mingle is a labor of love meant to inspire and benefit women who, like Tina, value their image as much as they like playing with it, but who don’t have the time to dedicate hours to the mirror every day.
Born in Wyoming, raised in California, Tina grew up in a tight knit family where, as a child, she took every opportunity she could to sit her mother down at her vanity and apply her makeup and fix her hair. In those moments, with brush in hand and her mother’s face as a canvas, time stopped. The spell was only broken when her mother washed her face before ever leaving the house.
Tina grew up with a strong appreciation for her physical environment, though she wasn’t exactly an outdoorsy type. She turned her brushes to actual canvases, painting landscapes and winning minor awards for her
work, participating in shows, and becoming enamored with capturing light. Her first job was selling tools at Sears, which only bolsters a sense one gets from Tina that she has always been about hard work. On a whim, she decided to answer a local talent search for makeup artist–she knocked on the door of a neighbor girl and convinced her to spend the day at the competition, scrubbing her down raw and making her up all over again. Her model’s lips were dry and hair was straw by the end of the day, but Tina, without any formal training, earned instant industry approval.
When she told her book smart, logical, left-brained family, that she was going to California to make a run at what only seemed natural to her–music videos, magazines, makeup–she might as well have said she was running away with the circus. She had already broken into the industry when she arrived, but she still need to be broken in herself. She remembers pages of magazines being ripped out on a whim and being asked to come with a story for the image on the spot, a test of her taste and her talent. Other times, her work was examined under an actual magnifying glass, every pore checked, every millimeter of her application dissembled. Instead of being paralyzed by fear by impromptu demands, she related to them: “That’s what I do,” she says. “I tell stories about my life through my art.” And for Tina, her work is made up of a million small choices, and taking the time to examine them is what makes her a completest.
Undaunted by pressure–or maybe not one to view earning her keep as pressure–Tina worked with diligence to establish herself as a top-selling cosmetics representative, makeup artist and stylist, strategically positioning herself to work and learn the business of beauty hands-on. She moved to Colorado in 1993, and later, craving the connection of real people over models, she founded Image by Tina, an image consulting and styling company. She quickly became a sought after stylist in the Denver area, working with 303 Magazine as fashion and style editor, all while producing monthly photo shoots–both still lives and editorials–and Develo Magazine, as well as with clients like Coors, T-Mobile, Proctor & Gamble, Ballmania and Colorado Crush on a variety of creative projects, including runway shows, music videos, special events and advertising campaigns.
Tina has always processed her emotional response to the world around her through color and light. Makeup is a language, like math, science and English, and it’s one Tina speaks fluently. She knew that certain products had restorative properties but not enough vibrancy, so she’d mix them together to get what she wanted. Other times, she was forced to use unnatural products in order to achieve the staying power she need for a long day of shooting or for a wedding. She observed how certain ingredients worked to moisturize the skin, how certain ingredients dried the skin, how certain combinations of products had entirely different results than they did on their own. Tina knew that the only way to get the high performance product that she desired and that she felt women deserved was to do it herself.
Through her work in the industry and professional and personal preferences, Tina recognized that the experience of a department store experience was luxurious and grand, but that she probably shouldn’t be putting synthetic products on her skin–the body’s most prominent organ–or ingesting the unnatural lipsticks as every woman wearing lip color is bound to do. But, when she went to organic grocers to hunt down the ever-allusive all-natural makeups that she’d heard existed, she was met with strange smelling goop that hardly had the opacity, coverage or strength to achieve the glamorous, sophisticated, polished image she wanted.
In 2011, after many years of trail-and-error and mixing products together to produce what she wished was actually available for sale from one line, Tina launched Mingle Cosmetics. Mingle is the antidote to the numerous harsh and drying cosmetics products on the market that contain harmful ingredients like lead, metals and parabens. Having used and tested a wide range of underperforming products, she knew that a mascara didn’t have to be a risky prescription in order to stimulate growth, that a woman need not purchase a gloss, a lip balm, a liner and a stain in order to divine a full and controlled look, and she knew that a foundation could contain the correct coverage and be natural. The mission of Mingle is to simplify a woman’s cosmetic footprint by providing an all-in-one, natural product. Mingle products come from the earth and hit all of the big ticket items women want in their makeup. It’s not magic and mystery, either. Look at the product pages to see that the only trick Tina has up her sleeve is hard work, dedication and lots of love.
Tina lives in Denver, offices in Cherry Creek North, and plays all over Colorado with her husband Steve. Whether it’s getting in a good workout, using her paintbrush to capture a gorgeous environment, or dancing–yes, she was an award-winning competitive dancer in another life–Tina always keeps her mantra at the forefront of her mind: Never underestimate the power of personal style.