Switching jobs is already difficult. But you know what’s harder? Changing your career to pursue a career that’s not related to the first oneYet Melissa Arnold, the Founder of Worth It Beauty Academy, and Reverence Beauty Inc. did it all. What’s more interesting is she did not even think twice about it.

As of writing, her first company, Worth It Beauty Academy, had a seven-figure valuation pre-pandemic, however in 2020 the forced closures due to COVID that spanned a year in Los Angeles, along with having three children all staying safer at home, business abruptly stopped. Seemingly, everything Melissa worked so hard to build was slipping through her fingers. However,Melissa is no stranger to pulling herself out of a lions mouth victoriously. 

In her early teens Melissa was abducted and sex trafficked throughout the US for two years, and managed to escape when her captors got pulled over and arrested for having a gun in their possession only to be abducted the same day by even worse criminals. Melissa shared that it was a prayer her new abductors heard that compelled them to let her free in the wee hours of the morning in Oakland. She called 411 on a pay phone, made a collect call and was finally reunited with her family in Los Angeles. Her original abductors eventually were charged and sentenced through a sting operation which could only happen if Melissa agreed to wear a wire and return back to face them, at this time she was 16 years old.

Upon returning to Los Angeles, Melissa met a pool shark who took her to a Laker game where she was introduced to Jerry Buss who took her under his wing and personally taught her math, English, History, Art, business, and the facts of life.  After getting her GED, Melissa then had the courage to enroll in West LA College, and pick the pieces of her life back up and pursue her dreams. But during her first semester, Producer Damon Elliott, son of Dionne Warwick, was introduced to Melissa and immediately cut an album on Arnold she was signed by a former president of the world-renowned Capitol Records, Roy Lott. She was signed as a singer/songwriter and rapper but had to drop out of school. Melissa and the label didn’t share the same vision for her album and she felt it sounded rushed. Not being able to find common ground Melissa pushed to get out the deal. 

Immediately upon being released from Capitol Records, Melissa was discovered by Mike Lynn who was the VP of Aftermath Records/Interscope Records at a LA night club from her sisters friend Hittman, one of Dr. Dre’s artists. Mike Lynn brought Melissa to the studio with Dr. Dre and the first song they recorded was the first single on “The Training Day” soundtrack singing the hook to “Put It on Me” featuring Dr. Dre and DJ Quick. Melissa recorded songs with Snoop Dogg, B Real from Cypress Hill, The Game, Scott Storch, and Maya working years under Dre’s tutelage. But the entrepreneur in her was calling her to start her own label and take control of her destiny. It didn’t work despite all her efforts.

By age 35 Melissa had her second child and decided to take her career down a different path and enter the beauty industry she grew up in as the daughter of cosmetologist and salon owner. In 2016, after seeing her friend get Microbladed live on Facebook Melissa became obsessed, and 5 years later, she’s still obsessed. In 2017, she started her permanent makeup salon with an $840 welfare benefit on an EBT card. Soon after, she had to decide between paying her salon rent or apartment rent

I chose my business and became homeless for six months with two babies that were still nursing and my eldest daughter in middle school,” Arnold narrated. 

 In the same year, Arnold made just over $100k and had three celebrity clients; Claudia Jordan, Lamar Odom, and Eric Dickerson. In the following two years, Arnold doubled and tripled her gross revenue. But like most highly successful entrepreneurs, everything did not magically fall onto Arnold’s lap. She worked extremely hard for it.

 Arnold survived the pandemic in Los Angeles, rebuilding a stronger brand with  the addition of a permanent cosmetic tattoo pigment line that immediately took off upon its launch and is now the number one permanent makeup pigment brand in the world, Reverence Beauty Inc. Entering the e-commerce space with no prior experience Reverence PMU pigments took industry by force upon releasing a line that solves the number one problem in the PMU industry, delivering a product that doesn’t heal 50 shades of gray..  Melissa is continuing to pioneer her industry by incorporating the latest technology into her permanent makeup academy utilizing the AR/VR (augmented reality/virtual reality) and metaverse in PMU education. Earning 3 awards in permanent makeup and now selected to be the first African American judge in WULOP (World Universal League of Permanent Makeup) the trajectory of Melissa’s career is straight for the stars. 

Married to the father of their three children, Aaron who handles all international and domestic distribution sales, while running her businesses still comes with its challenges finding time manage it all. However, despite her success, Arnold remains grounded, true to herself, with her purpose in clear sight which is outreach through her non-profit ready to help more people― things someone who deserves all the success in this world does.


Photo credit: Steven Simione