The beauty industry is big business. It is estimated that there are at least 40 beauty startups founded by women, making $455 billion in sales, according to Forbes. In terms of the global beauty market, it’s predicted to grow from $432.7 billion in 2016 to $750 billion by 2024, according to Inkwood Research.
It’s no secret that Latinas are among the women leading the charge in entrepreneurship, and creating viable and innovative beauty ventures. Take pioneering, beauty subscription box startup Birchbox, which was co-founded by Katia Beauchamp in 2010. Far from an easy feat, the part-Mexican chief executive revealed that the company achieved profitability last year.
Another beauty phenom created by a Latina: beautyblender. The Mexican-Portuguese-Irish makeup artist-turned-beauty mogul came up with the idea on the set of Girlfriends. When Rea Ann Silva noticed the tear-shaped sponges she cut by hand were disappearing (one of the many signs they were working), she knew she had a successful product on her hands.
“It’s really very surreal to know that most women pick up a beautyblender when they look in the mirror to do their makeup,” said the CEO and founder in an interview with Inc. “To know that I have had that profound an impact on an industry I truly love is amazing.”
With the rise of women entrepreneurs, we caught up with 4 Latina beauty bosses to get their top business advice:
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Named after her abuela, Afro-Puerto Rican entrepreneur Regina Bultrón Bengoa launched handmade, cruelty-free, vegan-friendly nail polish brand Selenia Beauty. The vibrant, 10-free colors are an ode to “the unf*ckwithable tribe of sisters” Bultrón Bengoa has engaged throughout her journey.
Her entrepreneurial path, which began on May 12, has already yielded numerous lessons. “My biggest lesson so far is to trust and enjoy the process. To go for it and not wait for things to be perfect in order to launch your business or a new product,” shares the Brooklyn, New York-based business owner. “Things will never be perfect. There will always be space for improvement and that’s the whole point. Imagine if one day you have everything figured out and there was no more growing to do? How boring would that be?”
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Beauty boss Aisha Ceballos-Crump turned an ingredient her grandmother used in skincare treatments (yes, honey) into a multiple-product, hair and body care line that suits both her multicultural family and now thousands of consumers. The Puerto Rican beauty industry veteran is the founder of Honey Baby Naturals, which can be found at CVS, Bed Bath & Beyond, Walmart, Rite Aid and Target, to name a few locations.
With the rapid growth of the business, Ceballos-Crump admits she’s had to scale up quickly, shipping to retailers and meeting the demands of her growing consumers. In the beginning, she thought she could do it all but learned things would move more efficiently with a team.
“I tried to do the sales, the marketing, the website, the social media. I worked in every capacity and it was wearing me out,” shares the mompreneur. “I quickly came to realize that I couldn’t run every aspect of my business. I had to bring in a strong team and have them work in their areas of expertise. It allowed me to focus on what I needed to focus on to grow the business and pull everyone’s strengths together.”
She offers Latina entrepreneurs an invaluable lesson: “Don’t give up on your dreams. It’s your idea and you can make it happen.”
Creating an inclusive and diverse beauty brand was a must for Latina duo Leslie Valdivia and Joanna Rosario. Just scroll through their 17.8K-followed Instagram page and you’ll see various skin tones and complexions, as well as gender identities, all donning Vive Cosmetics. Since launching in 2017, Valdivia and Rosario have made a name for themselves in the beauty biz by offering cruelty-free, vegan and waterproof matte lipsticks in poppin’ shades like “¡Wepa!,” “Selena Forever” and “Cafe Con Leche.” Vive Cosmetics also has a philanthropic arm, contributing .25 cents from every lipstick sold to organizations supporting the Latinx community in the United States, Central and South America.
Valdivia describes their business as a “two-mujer show,” managing product development, customer service and even the various social media channels, but that each customer makes it worth it. They’ve learned a great deal since starting the business.
“The biggest lesson we have learned thus far since launching Vive is that nothing goes as planned, and you gotta roll with the punches,” says the San Diego-born beauty trep. “Joanna and I are both new to the cosmetics industry and online retail space, so we are both learning as we go. There are always hiccups along the road, whether our lipstick boxes didn’t arrive on time or production time took way longer than anticipated, we just keep moving forward.”
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A licensed cosmetologist, Adassa Ramirez turned her passion for creating hair recipes with high-quality, all-natural ingredients into a full-on business. Named after her sons Michael and Mason, MicMas ReMiX is a haircare line designed to disrupt the notion of “pelo malo (bad hair).” Growing up in a Nuyorican home that embraced natural ingredients for haircare, Ramirez’s goal is to inspire pride in all hair types and textures, namely coarse and coily tresses.
In building MicMas ReMiX she’s quickly discovered that what works for some, may not work for all and that it’s best to do what works best for your brand.
“When I first started my business, I was paying for advertising on Etsy, Google and Amazon,” says Ramirez. “In my case it was a costly mistake, hardly any sales were coming in and my products were still drowning in an already saturated market. I found that I had to be patient with building my brand which meant relying on my customers feedback through reviews.”