Somos Libres

How 10 Latinx Beauty Founders Honour Their Roots Through Their Brands

Although the Latinx populace remains a top consumer of beauty products (in 2020 alone, Latinx consumers spent 13% more than the average consumer on beauty and personal care), the ethnic group has remained underrepresented in the industry. The Latinx community spans more than 20 countries and includes a variety of skin tones and languages that go beyond just Spanish and English. Yet somehow, we rarely see that rich racial and cultural diversity represented in beauty campaigns and media. 
So in the true go-getter spirit that most immigrant and immigrant children possess, Latina entrepreneurs have pushed through every obstacle to bring Latinx-owned brands to the masses and create their own version of inclusivity. Guadalajara-born founder of Reina Rebelde, Regina Merson, taps into her Mexican culture when it comes time to design and name award-winning makeup products. Rea Ann Silva, creator of Beautyblender, creates job opportunities for fellow Latinx talent. Rizos Curls founder and CEO, Julissa Prado, is living her dream of providing hair content and curl education in both English and Spanish. Desi Perkins of Dezi Skin targets the Latinx market by creating products specifically for melanated skin.
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While carving out representation on the shelves of some of the biggest retailers, they're using their personal experiences to address the long-overdue needs of the Latinx community. Ahead, we spoke with 10 Latina founders who are reclaiming their identities and using their brands to highlight their culture like never before. 

Desi Perkins, Founder and CEO, Dezi Skin

"I channel my Mexican heritage through all the things! Food, music, language, style, and education. My mom is from Puerto Vallarta, and I usually spend summers learning about her hometown and my heritage. I'm always inspired by the parts of my culture that are beautifully handmade, like pottery, textiles, and architecture.
At Dezi Skin, we spotlight the Latinx community in several key ways: Through language, we use Spanish in the names of our products; through ingredients and sourcing, we created an incredible antioxidant blend with fruits and extracts found completely in Mexico; and through models, I love to use Latinx, Black, and brown models in my campaigns. Finally, we use our platform to highlight melanin-related skin issues: Sometimes melanated skin has slightly different concerns, and I like to create products that address those specific problems. 
Ultimately, it may seem simple, but it's my priority to make everyone feel seen. Historically, in the beauty industry, minority representation has been quite minimal. Fortunately, it's getting better every day, and I am proud to be a part of that improvement. Representation makes people feel seen, valued, beautiful, and important. I always reference Selena Quintanilla-Pérez because she was such a role model for me. Seeing her made me feel beautiful, especially when she started breaking into mainstream media. It was important for me to see her curves, dark curly hair, and more melanated skin. I hope that I can also have an impact like that on people."
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Simone Xavier, COO and Co-Founder of Sigma Beauty

"I was born and raised in Brazil — most of my family still lives in Brazil, and we all speak Portuguese — and the Brazilian culture still influences my inspiration for product development, collections, and my ability to develop solutions. The Radiance Collection was fully inspired by the song 'the girl from Ipanema.' Think: tan skin and golden hour at the beach — even the highlighters had imprints that reminded me of the golden sand at the beach. Additionally, the Cor de Rosa collection was inspired by how Brazilians refer to the colour pink. We call it ‘Cor de Rosa (colour of a rose).’ 

More importantly, when developing products, I try to address a wide range of skin tones; In my own family, we are all different. I am lucky and grateful to have been exposed to such diversity in Brazil. My great-grandmother from my father's side was native Brazilian (Indigenous), and my great-grandmother from my mother's side was Italian. My siblings and I resemble each other, but we all have different skin tones. Diversity has been part of our lives since day one. I make sure I am creating eyeshadow colours that will be deep enough, blush colours that my own family will be able to enjoy, and lipsticks that will compliment olive and deep skin tones. When I develop products, I think of my family, my friends, and our clients. 

Our Latinx heritage is a success story, and I hope it continues to inspire many Latinxs to focus, believe in their ideas, and accomplish their goals."
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Joanna Vargas, Celebrity Facialist, Founder of Joanna Vargas Salons and Skin Care

"Traditionally, in our family, we have made our heritage incredibly important. We speak Spanish at home, our favourite meals are from our countries of origin (my mother's family is from Mexico and Puerto Rico, and my husband is from Nicaragua), and we live, what we would consider, very traditionally and with a strong sense of family. Latinx Heritage Month is a time for us to highlight all the wonderful contributions made by the people of our culture to our friends and the friends of our children. 
I have always said my love of the beauty industry came from my grandmother. She was the most glamorous and always smelled amazing. Self-care and ritualizing a routine is something I preach to all my clients, and those concepts were born from watching my grandmother doing her routine. I feel as though my culture has literally defined my career. It frames the way I give advice to clients, how I interact with my team, and how I look toward the future. The vibrancy and spirit of my culture are visible the second you walk into my salon. Everyone is having a good time. And every client is treated as though they are visiting family. 
First, my culture is who I am. I think it's valuable to learn about it because it's beautiful. It helps increase one's understanding of other people to know more about what centres them. My career speaks for itself. I never truly became successful until I was able to share who I really was. That authenticity is something clients look for. I think I have proven that success comes with inclusion."
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Babba Rivera, Founder, Ceremonia

"Today, I carry my Latinx heritage with pride, but it hasn't always been this way for me. I grew up in Sweden, but both of my parents are from Chile, so we always spoke Spanish and lived by our Latin American traditions at home. Being raised in a country where my parents didn't speak the language or understand the culture made me feel like an outsider growing up. I never saw myself represented anywhere and started to strongly believe that in order to succeed, I had to assimilate. Subconsciously, I silenced a lot of my Latinidad in an effort to blend in. In a way, I feel like I lost my identity living between these two cultures. Among my Swedish friends, I was very much their foreign friend. However, when traveling to Chile, my family would refer to me as 'la sueca' (the Swede) because they thought I was so Swedish. 
I now live in New York City and love it so much. Living here has helped me reconnect with my Latinidad while maintaining my Swedish heritage simultaneously, in part thanks to the rich mix of cultures here. Today, I pride myself in being a Swedish-Latina and find joy in being able to call both cultures mine, without needing to conform to only one. In a way, Ceremonia is a tribute to this becoming. It’s inspired by rituals I grew up with (as the daughter of a hairdresser and niece of a DIY-hair-mask queen) and driven by a mission to celebrate the richness of the Latinx culture.
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On a personal level, I feel extremely motivated by the idea of seeing more Latinx entrepreneurs making moves. As someone who never saw myself represented in business media, I hope to be able to play that role for someone in the future. As the world continues to wake up to what it means to be a minority in the U.S. today, I believe that the Latinx population deserves a seat at the table and deserves to shape an industry of which they are top consumers. At Ceremonia, we want to dismantle that narrative and widen the perspective for what it means to be Latinx today through highlighting multifaceted Latinx talent — from the videographers, photographers, hair stylists, and makeup artists behind the scenes to the models in front of the cameras — within all of our campaigns.
In addition to my motivation to make space for Latinx representation in beauty, I also started Ceremonia because I believed there was a cleaner way to achieve high-performance hair care products while featuring key natural ingredients native to Latin America that have been used for centuries in our culture."

Tata Harper, Founder and CEO, Tata Harper Skincare

"It was great growing up in Barranquilla, Colombia, where I was surrounded by Latinx culture. There are 20 female cousins in my family, who all adore beauty. Because of them, there was always a strong commitment to self-care in our household. My grandmother hosted spa parties every weekend and invited women from the community to try her recipes for hair masks, body scrubs, or new treatments. I loved helping her make the products from scratch using local Colombian ingredients. I watched her teach the women how to take care of their skin and noticed how much more confident and beautiful they would feel. I always loved those parties, and they became an important part of shaping my personal view of beauty as an essential self-care ritual. When I started to formulate my own products, I thought there was no better way to see if they worked than hosting my own spa parties. I would invite my close friends and family over and walk them through some of the first regimens we created. Through trial and error and listening to the feedback of those I loved and trusted, I was able to create a line of products that are high-performance and deliver incredible results. Still today, one of my favourite parts of my job is hosting beauty classes and helping women feel confident and more beautiful in their own skin.
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Every time I go home, I am reinspired by the experience. It is very important for me to include and source ingredients from Latin America. This includes rosehip seed oil (sourced in Chile), sachi inchi seed oil (from Peru), organic raw sugar (from Colombia), and purple clay complex (from Brazil). And because Colombia is full of bright, vibrant colours, it inspired my green and yellow packaging."

Julissa Prado, Founder and CEO, Rizos Curls

"I was born and raised in Los Angeles, California, and am of Mexican descent. My father came to this country from Mexico with nothing, crawling through sewers to get here. Knowing my origins is very important to me, not just to uplift myself but also my Latinx community. The immigrant experience is a unique but shared experience, and I think that's why we are so proud to showcase the countries we are from. Everything I do is centered on my culture — it's part of my identity and why I hustle so hard. It's also a big motivation for creating Rizos Curls. 
I'm so unapologetically Mexican, and I bring that love of Mexico with me everywhere I go. I told myself that I would create the very best product for curly-haired girls like me and provide content and curl education in both English and Spanish one day. I spent years searching for the perfect formula and creating a product made with quality ingredients that could celebrate all curl types, from my tia's coily strands to my sister's loose waves. When we launched at Ulta this year, I celebrated with a Mariachi, a paleta truck, a big Mexican flag, and I did a traditional grito in front of the store. 
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My culture is at the core of the brand and our 3 Cs: Curls, Community, Culture. That is the heart of Rizos Curls and is what guides every decision I make. Curls stands for the high-quality products that Rizos Curls has come to be known for, which use natural ingredients and no harsh chemicals, sulfates, silicones, or parabens. Growing up, I struggled to find products that worked on my hair type and fought the stigmas against curly hair in mainstream beauty. Community is the reason Rizos Curls is successful. As a mission-driven company, the community is the beacon in my decision-making, and I often make decisions based on giving back to our community rather than on profit. Culture, as a Latina founder, is so deeply intertwined with my brand. I'm proud to be at the forefront of a cultural shift in beauty where inclusivity and diversity are celebrated. As a self-funded and woman of colour-owned business, I break down barriers, change stereotypes, and reach new limits. I'm fighting to break into the mainstream market and helping pave the way for other Latina and women of colour-owned brands."

Aisha Ceballos-Crump, Owner and Founder, Botánika Beauty

"Growing up, my parents saw the importance of ensuring that we had a consistent connection to our Puerto Rican roots. More than anything, they instilled within us the significance of celebrating the richness of our culture in all that we do. Family, food, and fiesta are the centre of all of our celebrations and traditions. Puerto Rican flags were displayed proudly in our front yard and inside of all our cars. We even cleaned up on Saturday mornings with salsa blasting through the stereo. I learned that my cultural identity is not about my race, skin tone, or hair texture, but more than anything, it's about the love and deep regard I have for my heritage. 
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My culture is a huge part of my identity and a key inspiration for the Botánika Beauty brand. The name Botánika was inspired by botanica apothecary stores found in densely populated Latinx communities. Many of the ingredients were inspired by fruits, vegetables, and herbs commonly found in our Latinx homes. The logo and theme of the goddesses are a tribute to the matron of our families and her strengths. All of our products are inclusive of all our various hair textures and celebrate our natural tresses. We are also intentional in using dual language labeling and imagery that reflects our beautiful culture. 
Being Latina is far more than a demographic classifier; it is a way of life. I take an immense amount of pride in showcasing our beautiful culture because I know what it feels like to be ‘othered.’ As the only Latina in my grade school class and one of the few Latina engineers in college, there were very few reference points outside of my home that I could look to that celebrated the richness and diversity of my culture. My mission as a beauty entrepreneur is to change the face of beauty one brand at a time. 
The Latinx community is a strong and powerful group that has been underrepresented and underserved in the beauty industry for far too long. Botánika Beauty was created to shine the spotlight on the beautiful, multifaceted Latina women from around the world."

Rea Ann Silva, Founder and CEO of Beautyblender

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"My mother is Mexican, and my dad is Portuguese and Irish. Making it in the beauty industry as a Latina had its challenges. The one question I've gotten throughout my life, and even today, has always been, ‘what are you?’ Not being able to identify as either white or Black provided certain advantages and, at the same time, presented unique challenges. I never saw any women who looked like me in a position of power that could mentor me in business, so I learned many things the hard way. Being Latina means that I am a part of a colourful, passionate, and beautiful culture. I want to highlight that and continue to inspire and mentor other Latinas around the world. Earlier this year, I partnered with WeAllGrow Latina and Dove on a campaign, and spoke to a lovely group of students at the Latino Institute at Seton Hall University. 
As a founder, my Latinx heritage has always been top of mind while working with women of colour and solving practical challenges daily. Back in the day, retailers and marketers believed that people of colour didn't have money to purchase makeup, so they weren't the consumers being paid attention to. Being a Latina gave me license to see and live with skin-tone vibrancy. As a makeup artist, it helped me perfect my artistry in cosmetic complexion application, and this experience helped me create the Beautyblender. I prioritized focusing on Latina skin tones and undertones when formatting my first complexion product, BOUNCE foundation, and stayed true to that when developing all of my products.
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At Beautyblender, we are extremely inclusive of all minorities, especially the Latinx community. We naturally work with Latinx influencers, editors, and makeup artists all year round. In our product campaigns, we have always had Latinx representation when selecting models. Also, when it comes to my Beautyblender team, I make it a priority to hire Latinx talent at every level of my business."

Evelyn Ginossi, Founder of Marine + Vine

"My parents both moved from Chile to Los Angeles in the mid-'60s and started their lives over from scratch. As the child of immigrants, I have always been so aware of their sacrifices and how they've shaped my life path—it still strikes me in the most unexpected moments. Recently, while driving to a lunch meeting to meet with my European Union distributor at the Hotel Bel Air, I recalled that my mom worked in that very hotel as a housekeeper when she first moved to Los Angeles. Fast forward more than 55 years since she first landed in the U.S., her daughter has a beauty brand sold globally and selling in countries we only dreamed of going to when I was a child. My mom has always been my strongest connection to my heritage, and now that I am losing her to advanced dementia, carrying forward these traditions takes on a renewed significance with me. 
There is also a strength in the feminine energy of being Latina that I have a very powerful connection to. I often feel the energy of the women before me giving me the strength to move forward. Recognizing your roots is so important to me since I would not be where I am without the experiences of those individuals before me. Being authentic and sharing my founder story with others is the most impactful way to use my brand to spotlight the Latinx community. There is an authentic emphasis on family and community, which resonates with so many different cultures, and I naturally want to build that through Marine + Vine. We are a broadly inclusive culture, representing so many different experiences and parts of the globe under the Latinx umbrella."
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Regina Merson, Founder and CEO of Reina Rebelde

"I'm a proud Mexicana, born in Guadalajara, but immigrated to the United States when I was around ten years old. Mexican culture is very much a part of my DNA — it shows up in my beauty rituals, in the art in my home, and every celebration around Mexican (and even American) holidays.
My heritage and culture are very rich, multi-layered, and significantly more nuanced and sophisticated than what people experience in the U.S. I think it's important to relay that complexity when possible. Every touchpoint of Reina Rebelde is to provide a platform to elevate the Latinx experience and showcase our patriotism, roots, and pride for our countries of origin and our collective experience as a fierce and dynamic community. We demonstrate pride in our culture through everything, from our award-winning Bold Lip Color Stick in Brava—a fierce red that’s full of energy and looks great on all skin tones—to using Reina Rebelde to celebrate as many countries as possible that make up Latin America and the Caribbean.
The Latinx community, which consists of different subcultures, is the primary influence for Reina Rebelde. Our current notions of beauty and sense of experimentation are very closely tied to the Latinas that make up our collective and individual histories. From famous, trailblazing women, like Frida Kahlo, Iris Chacón, María Félix, and Rita Moreno, to our own mothers, grandmothers, aunts, and girlfriends, these brilliant and brave women have supported, educated, and influenced us. I feel very strongly that we are all connected through the powerful energies of all these women who are a proud part of our heritage. Every part of the brand is informed and inspired by that energy."
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