If you spend a lot of your free time looking at makeup tutorials on YouTube, chances are you’ve heard of beauty blogger Kathleen Fuentes, known as Kathleen Lights. The 28-year-old Cubana and Miami-born influencer who has 4.18 million subscribers on YouTube and 2.1 million followers on Instagram, also has her own vegan and cruelty nail lacquer light called Lights Lacquer, which shade carefully curated by Kathleen and draw from her own inspiration and knowledge of makeup. She recently sat down with us to share how she went from YouTube to building her own successful beauty brand.
“Ever since I was a little girl, I have been obsessed with painting my nails! I have always had love for expressing myself through polish, so it just felt right,” she tells HipLatina. “When I was younger, me and my sister would talk about our dream job being to name nail polishes. I used to complain all the time about the nail polishes I used to my mom. There was always something about each brand that I didn’t like. [My mom asked], ‘Why don’t you create your own nail polish? That’s how the idea took off.”
Fuentes who has been reviewing products for years on her channels really wanted to prioritize creating a product that was clean and safe from toxic chemicals. Lights Lacquer is actually “7 Free,” meaning it’s free from the toxic chemicals like Toluene, Dibutyl Phthalate (DBP), Formaldehyde, Formaldehyde Resin, Camphor, TPHP, and Xylene that you’d find in a lot of other nail polishes. It’s also vegan, as it contains no animal-derived ingredients. Her Latiniad and experience being a Cubana from Miami had a huge influence on the line especially when it came to the shades.
“Cuba is such a beautiful, colorful country! I think the bold colors, the personality are things I draw inspiration from my culture. My culture is such a big part of who I am, and I love bringing it into my channel and my work whenever I can. Whether I fill my tutorials in Spanglish or throw my Cuban family into the content,” she says. “Growing up, I had adapted certain rituals and traditions when it comes to beauty but one of them that stands out the most will always be baby cologne before bed! No matter how old I get, I will always dab on some Agustin Reyes Royal Violets perfume before hitting the sack! It’s what my mom used to do as a child and what her mom before that did as well.”
In fact, Fuentes explains that her GRL themed collection is actually a tribute to women’s empowerment and her Cuban roots are also seen throughout the collection with nail polish color names like Jefa, HBIC (Head B****), and Rosie (dedicated to her mother). As for what inspired her to launch a nail polish line, Fuentes say she always envisioned owning her own beauty brand.
“Although I can’t see myself leaving YouTube anytime soon, I wanted to combine my knowledge and passion using what I’ve learned through my platform to create a product that I am deeply passionate about which are beauty and nails,” she says.
But as much success as Fuentes has, she’ll be the first to admit that launching your beauty brand is far from easy. But she wants to make a point to inspire young Latinas to follow their dreams and consider entrepreneurship. Latinas have really been making themselves known in the beauty space with Latina-owned brands like Brujita, Botanica Beauty, Honey Baby Naturals, and Rizos Curls — just to name a few. There’s been an upstick in beauty brands owned by Latinas and we couldn’t be prouder. According to the 2016 States of Women-Owned Business report, for every 10 women-owned businesses launched since 2007, eight were started by women of color and Latinas own close to 788,000 businesses in the U.S. It’s inspiring to say the least.
“As Latina women, we now have a responsibility to show others like us that it is possible to find success doing the things you love. If opening up your own business in beauty is one of them, look to those who never gave up as inspiration,” she says. “We owe it to ourselves and all the young women after us!”
Fuentes has also intelligently used her skills as a social media influencer to really help promote her business and promote her brand, while also engaging with her customers.
“I think social media is another extension of customer service. It’s a means to see what your following wants and being able to listen to them as a whole. I think it’s a really powerful tool for connection,” she says. “At Lights Lacquer, we’re very customer-centric and social media plays an important part in listening to how we can always improve. Social media enhances the experience of the people making your dream a reality.”
“I never really knew what to say when I [would get] asked about how I grew my following because sometimes it’s hard for me to understand as well,” Fuentes adds. “My advice would be to stay active! Engage with others and be consistent. BUT MOST OF ALL, stay true to who you are. People will always see through what’s not authentic. Your integrity is everything! Make sure you always keep that and I believe you can go far.”