There was something beautiful, feminine, and glamorous about the way women made themselves up in decades past. Every detail was perfect, and the colors were bold and sumptuous. Buenos Aires-born Gabriela Hernandez –artist, cosmetic historian, designer, and creator of the luxury vintage makeup brand Bésame Cosmetics – decided to bring back the glamour of makeup, resurrecting some of the colors and products of the past. We recently chatted with Hernandez about her company, and how she was able to propel a business forward that is based on taking a look back.
HL: What was the inspiration behind starting Bésame Cosmetics? What did you feel was missing from the market?
GH: I started Bésame to bring a sense of romance back to cosmetics. I admired the makeup my grandmother and aunts used and how beautiful the containers were for all their toiletries. I wanted products that would take you back to that time, that made you feel special and made the process of getting ready more pleasurable. I felt the industry needed products that would be simple but effective, and that incorporated glamour and design in formulas as well as containers.
HL: Tell us a little bit about your experience with vintage style and beauty.
GH: I have been collecting antiques and my grandmother’s makeup items for many years. I had pieces from her collection when I started Bésame in 2004, and have been adding items ever since. I have a large collection of products ranging from the early 1900s in my display cases at the Bésame store in Burbank.
HL: Who are the beauty icons you gain the most inspiration from?
GH: I love many women from the golden age of Hollywood, but I especially like Audrey Hepburn for her grace and elegance as well as her humanitarian efforts. Also Princess Grace Kelly, and Hedy Lamarr, inventor of military technology.
HL: How have cosmetics evolved over the years? Are there any products that were better back then than they are now?
GH: Cosmetics have evolved mainly from changes in our lifestyle that demanded other types of products, and developments in synthetic ingredients that improved the feel and performance of products. There are items that were made from simple ingredients that are just as effective today as they were when they were invented. We look for these formulas to bring back these forgotten gems from history and introduce them to our customers today.
HL: How would you define Latina beauty?
GH: Latina beauty is glamour and confidence. Latina women know how to maximize their beauty and exude a sense of strength and pride.
HL: What is your favorite decade for beauty and cosmetics and why?
GH: My favorite decade is the 1930s because it’s the time when the makeup industry in the United States started to really blossom with new products and textures. Also the fashion was very flattering, soft and feminine.
HL: What advice can you give to other entrepreneurs, especially Latinas, who are thinking about turning their passion and ideas into a successful business? Any essential lessons you learned along the way?
GH: I learned many lessons along the way. Research the field you want to enter and know exactly what your point of difference will be in the market. Also, never underestimate the amount of capital needed to start. Find a mentor who will help you avoid common mistakes made from inexperience, and [will] guide you to achieve success.
HL: What’s next for Bésame Cosmetics?
GH: We have a lovely collection with Disney’s Snow White and also with Marvel’s Agent Carter. We will continue to develop and bring you unique products that are inspired by history or favorite characters.