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Hackensack Mom Saved By Makeup: 'Don't Wait To Make Yourself Happy'

Britney Roth of Hackensack is a single mom. After years of unhappiness, she is finally on a path to a better future for herself and her 5-year-old son. Photo Credit: Britney Roth
"Every day I look at my son and I promise to work harder to make our lives even better," Roth said. Photo Credit: Contributed
"Do it with passion, or not at all," is Roth's motto. Here is one of her recent clients. Photo Credit: Contributed
Roth was recently promoted to fitness director at Retro Fitness in Hackensack. Photo Credit: Contributed

Britney Roth sat in the middle seat of a flight from Puerto Rico to New Jersey in 2016 when she caught a glimpse of her 3-year-old son's reflection in the window on the tarmac.

That's when she knew, they were never going back to the island.

She had been depressed for years and knew that if she wanted a future for her son, she'd have to get out.

"I didn't see myself progressing where I was. I had a little boy, I couldn't just stay there," said Roth, 27.

"I had to get ahead for my son."

Roth had moved to Puerto Rico with her family from Bergen County when she was 11, and was only planning on visiting the ones who'd moved back to New Jersey when she boarded the flight.

All she had with her was her son, some clothes and her makeup.

As it turns out, that's all she needed when she started her new life in Hackensack two years ago.

And now that she has a steady job, a thriving makeup business on the side, and a happy son with a bright future ahead of him, Roth says there's not much more she could ever need.

"Every day I look at my son and I promise to work harder to make our lives even better," she said.

"You can't wait to make yourself happy."

Roth grew up in Paterson and Fort Lee before moving to Puerto Rico, where her mom and step-dad owned an orthopedic business.

She was always a tom boy, but when her braces and glasses came off in middle school, she began dabbling with makeup.

It wasn't long before her peers noticed.

"I used to have this little mirror in my middle school locker," Roth said. "I would do my eye liner and then all of my friends would come over in between classes and I would do theirs too."

Tropical colors were her favorite. She loved watching her face transform and holding her head a little higher in the hallways.

Roth soon discovered tutorials on social media, but knew that if she wanted to afford the better products and tools, she'd have to get a job.

"I started working at my parents' company," said Roth, "and all of my money went to makeup."

She would sit for hours in her room watching videos online and practicing on herself.

It was an escape for her.

Roth's makeup was always there, allowing her to feel free from the world for just a moment and transform herself.

A little sparkles here, a splash of color there. She felt brand new every single day.

In 2013, she gave birth to her baby boy at 22 years old. She tried going back to work but couldn't stand being away from her son.

Instead, Roth spent her days with her newborn baby. While he slept, she played with her hair and makeup.

The years went by and Roth began slipping into dark places. Her self-confidence crumbled and she wondered when things would change.

They didn't -- until one day, when she realized that there wasn't a future in Puerto Rico for her anymore.

"If you know something isn't good for you, you need to honor that feeling for your future," Roth said. "I wasn't happy there. It wasn't getting any better."

Roth's step-dad, siblings and grandmother had returned to Bergen County.

When she purchased a ticket to visit them in 2016, she had no intention of staying forever.

But when she took her seat next to her son on the plane, Roth's mind was already made up: "I was going to leave and I was never going to go back."

Roth moved in with her sister at their grandmother's house and began sending her resume to makeup companies.

None of them came through.

Roth ended up landing a job in child care at Retro Fitness in Hackensack and within weeks, was promoted to the front desk.

Makeup fell by the wayside for Roth as she focused on making enough money to get a car and enroll her son in school.

Until then, she relied on Uber rides and her cousin to help her get to work, and her grandmother to watch over her son.

Six months after moving to Hackensack, Roth scraped together all of her savings and bought herself a car.

That was her first glimmer of hope, she said.

The next came a few months later, when a woman she met at the gym invited her to go out with some of the members.

As Roth applied her own makeup, she noticed a small circle forming around her.

For the first time in years -- surrounded by sparkly shadows, glossy lip kits and a group of women -- Roth felt at home.

"Those people became my first friends here," Roth said, teary-eyed. "They gave me that boost and the confidence to take things to the next level."

Roth has become a go-to makeup artist in Hackensack, all from word of mouth and social media. She receives inquiries daily -- from quinceañeras to bridal parties -- and enjoys helping people feel the same confidence that makeup gave her.

"Many people I work with don't feel confident," she said.

"They don't think that they need makeup to be beautiful, but then they see what they look like with more of an arch in their eyebrow, or how a little bit of lash can make your cheekbones look higher.

"It just gives them a little boost."

The same way it did for Roth on her darkest days.

She hopes to one day own a makeup studio but until then, she'll be working at the gym -- where she was recently promoted again to fitness director.

"People wonder how makeup and fitness collide," Roth said.

"But this is where everything happened for me."

She says becoming a fitness director helps her motivate people to make something great out of their lives and boost their confidence.

Each day before she takes her son to school and heads into work, Roth sits at her makeup table at home and tinkers with her powders, liners and lip colors.

Some days, she goes all out -- eyelash extensions and fluorescent lips.

Other days, she wears no makeup at all.

But each time she sits down in front of her mirror, Roth remembers the hard times back in Puerto Rico and her early days in Hackensack when makeup was all she had.

"Life is what you make it, and if you let yourself stay in that same little bubble that you've always known, you're never going to get out.

"Don't wait to make yourself happy."

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