Since Mabel and Shaira Frias launched their makeup brand, Luna Magic, earlier this year, they’ve already got Cardi B using their products. But for these Dominican sisters, the main mission behind their brand is to serve and cater to women of all skin tones.
“That was such a wild experience. We are so grateful to her makeup artist Erika La Pearl for using our eyeshadow palette and stacking our lashes for [Cardi B’s] BeautyCon NYC look,” Mabel told HipLatina. “We want to work with anyone who is excited about our brand no matter what stage they are in their lives and their careers.”
Born and raised in New York by Dominican parents, the sisters came out in March 2019 with their first collection, appropriately called “Uno” featuring three products: an eyeshadow palette, matte liquid lipstick, and mink eyelashes.
Both the title of their collection and the brand name are significant with “Luna Magic” alluding to immortality as symbolized by the moon, an ode to their mother who died while they were building the brand. They chose “Luna” to make their Latinidad evident and the “magic” is inspired by the magic of people who think outside the box.
“From our personal experience with immigrant parents, we witnessed so much hard work and creativity —that magic — that made our childhood special and built us to become entrepreneurs,” Mabel said.
The duo share years of experience in beauty with Mabel working on the corporate side as a digital strategist for more than a decade working for fashion and beauty brands including Macy’s and Nordstrom, she’s now focused on brand strategy at Luna Magic. Shaira is a former journalist and trained makeup artist who graduated from the world-renowned Academy of Freelance Makeup School and is now focused on product development, formulations, and operations.
Once they committed to launching the brand they devoted 10 months between inception to their official debut and the basis that’s been the focus for every product was to celebrate Latinidad and provide for all women of color.
“Being Afro-Latinas, my sister and I were always immersed in beauty and music. Beauty is such an important element in our culture,” Shaira said. “It felt most natural to build a company based on an industry that we are so passionate about and that there is room for us to tell fresh stories and represent Latinas in an authentic way.”
Growing up they didn’t have the variety of makeup options available to women of color that lines like Rihanna’s Fenty now provide, which has a total of 40 shades. Back in the 1970s and ‘80s, supermodel Iman had to blend her own foundation (she would eventually release her own cosmetics line) and it wasn’t until recent years that lines like Fenty provided for women of color with a multitude of shades.
“Prior to our company, we were customers of many brands and were often hungry for a company that could speak to us and provides products that addressed our concerns,” Shaira said. “As Latina women of color it was important for us to ensure that we are addressing all concerns across skin tones,” Mabel added.
African-American women spend $7.5 billion annually on beauty products and spend 80 percent more money on cosmetics than the general market, according to research. Another study found that Latinx consumers spent $27.7 billion on beauty products in 2014, according to Liz Sanderson, vice president of strategy and insights for Univision Communications.
“No line really had what I considered my shade of foundation,” Worokya Duncan, director of inclusion for a private school in Manhattan, told AP News. “There was always like an orange line somewhere. I would have to have my hair down so you couldn’t see where the foundation color and my actual skin color separated. Why is it so hard? Because people still find it novel that there’s beauty found in black and brown bodies in the first place.”
“In the beauty industry, brands often divide skin tones into two categories: ‘general’ and ‘ethnic,’” Karen Chambers, director of product development at Iman Cosmetics told Racked. “There is not a broader sense of inclusiveness that recognizes that women are really a single category.”
These are some of the concerns the Frias sisters set out to address with their products. They tested their eyeshadow palette and matte lipsticks on a variety of skin tones to ensure that the pigmentation worked for each of them. They also emphasize that the line isn’t exclusively for Latinas, though they are unabashedly proud of their roots. The line is about appealing to women of all skin tones while still representing Latinx culture in the beauty industry. “Our brand is just our point of view based on our experiences and a celebration of beauty, with a Latin vibe,” Mabel said.
The 12 eyeshadow names are inspired by Latin culture including salud, dinero, amor, salsa, reggeaton, banda, mami, papi, and bebe. The matte lipsticks have names that define sexiness: bon bon and gostosa, while their mink lashes were inspired by two telenovela series that showcased powerful women: Rubi and Xica.
As they develop their second collection, they now have an element they didn’t have the first time around — customer feedback. Due to high demand, they’re adding lip glosses, extending their lash line and adding a new eyeshadow palette. They are in the midst of developing their second collection, regularly checking emails and direct messages to learn what their customers want.
This emphasis on customer feedback and the overall customer experience comes from their own experience as consumers of beauty products and the needs they have that haven’t always been met.
“As customers ourselves, we always wondered why there weren’t more companies that showed women like us, that spoke our language and captured our culture. And our brand is a way to celebrate that and create a community of fierce women to join the movement,” Shaira said. “One of our mottoes is that ‘We are not a face, we are an attitude,’ which means that we are a vibe and anyone who likes it can join the party.”
Their growing success is also an indicator of the steady rise of Latina entrepreneurs, with a study by the Stanford Latino Entrepreneurship Initiative finding that Latinas now own 44 percent of Latinx businesses. It also found that from 2007 to 2015, nearly half of the growth in new Latinx businesses came from firms started by women. The Frias sisters — with their Cardi B stamp of approval — are an example of Latina entrepreneurs that use their success to uplift Latinx culture and represent it in a space that’s still lacking Latinx presence.
“Luna Magic is a celebration of this spirit and our brand was built to inspire and celebrate the many layers of what it means to be a Latina, black and multicultural woman in our generation through the transformative power of makeup,” Mabel said.