Secret revealed: Shelton native brings beauty to downtown

SHELTON — Madison Cruz is truly motivated.

That was evident at the start of the COVID lockdown, which shuttered all types of beauty salons for months. But closed shops did stop the 20-year-old nursing school student, who chose to master the lashing craft herself.

Two years — and countless hours of watching social media videos, taking classes and practicing on friends and family — later Cruz is a lashing expert and has her own shop in downtown Shelton.

“I was motivated to do this,” said Cruz, who celebrated the grand opening of Beauty Secret at 410 Howe Ave. on June 25 with a ribbon cutting attended by Mayor Mark Lauretti. “I am inspired to make people feel beautiful. It is a wonderful feeling to see the smiles on their faces.”

Cruz said she started “lashing” during COVID.

“I couldn’t get my lashes done, so I just asked myself ‘What am I going to do?’ Cruz said. “I am always pushing myself, so I ordered a kit off Amazon, then watched TikToks of girls doing them themselves.”

She said she was a “complete fail” in the beginning. She said she would spend hours lashing family members on her living room floor, taking at times five hours to do one eye lash. But she kept working, taking classes and practicing until about a year ago when she began seeing clients at her home.

“I was so frustrated in the beginning. There were times I would question whether I wanted to keep doing this,” Cruz said. “Even opening this storefront, there were times where I said, ‘Do I really want to do this?’ I’m so young. I’m taking on such a big responsibility. But I kept fighting and here we are.”

From her living room floor, she expanded her operation, working with a partner in a shop in Stratford. During this time, she decided it was time to branch off on her own, and Beauty Secret was born.

“I want something more,” said Cruz, who praised her parents, Christian and Damaris, for their support in making her dream a reality. “I am proud of where I am right now.”

Beauty Secret now offers two hairdressers, one nail tech, one make-up artist and two lash techs, Cruz being one of them. Cruz said she even has someone who whitens teeth come in by appointment.

Cruz says this salon is only her first step — her goal is turning this into a full med spa, with Botox, massages and other beauty offerings. All this will come, she says, after she earns her nursing degree.

“I have wanted to be a nurse for as long as I can remember,” Cruz said. “I love helping people. The feeling you get when you are helping someone is incredible.”

Cruz is a junior in the nursing school at Goodwin University. She is studying to become an aesthetic nurse.

“This is a step toward what I hope it will finally become, a med spa,” said Cruz. “I had to start somewhere, and I feel that starting young gets me that foot in the door, rather than starting later.”

A Shelton native, she chose a downtown location because of the foot traffic, which she believes will only increase as the area is further developed.

“It is really up and coming,” she said about downtown. “There are so many new things, so many nice restaurants. This is just a beautiful location.”

Along with the foot traffic — she always takes walk-ins — is the major social media presence Cruz has established. She primarily uses Instagram to push her message of beauty and the services now available to potential clients.

“I’m proud of what I’ve accomplished,” she added. “It’s been a lot of hard work, a lot of dedication. But I know I am not done.”