A Latina-run makeup brand has hit Target shelves this month and we are so hyped! It is none other than Reina Rebelde, which translates to “rebel queen” in English and was founded by Mexican-American Regina Merson and launched in the fall of 2016. From the packaging to the product names, the line’s products have a special connection to her heritage while celebrating the duality of Latinas living in the U.S. as a whole, making it a brand we can all celebrate. The brand’s story is also a reason to feel proud.
Merson was born in Guadalajara, Mexico, and came to the United States where she became an Ivy League-educated lawyer and chapter 11 bankruptcy attorney. Merson spent years in that cold, cold world before dropping it to start her own business. But Reina Rebelde and its success didn’t happen overnight. Merson spent a year soul-searching and journaling while she was still practicing law before coming up with the idea and deciding to go for it.
“I started journaling about the idea and letting it unfold for me and letting it unfold in the way that felt really natural to me,” she told HipLatina. “But it obviously hit a lot of walls and there were a lot of days where [I realized] this is going to be really complicated.”
Merson invested a few more years working on everything from the formulas of her products to getting the trademarks she needed. Her background as a lawyer definitely came in handy.
The entrepreneur feels no need to sugarcoat how long and difficult the journey has been. However, she did not let those roadblocks stop her and has words of wisdom for budding entrepreneurs. Besides being passionate about your product “you have to be able to see the horizon, which is very far away, but you can not allow it to overwhelm you or you’ll never get started,” she said. “It’s important to look at the big picture, but really focus on the immediate future because everything starts moving step by step by step.”
Merson trusted the process and now has Reina Rebelde to show for it. Now we have the option to rock a fire red lipstick called Brava or a bold eye shadow palette called Salvaje when the mood strikes. But she didn’t just make great products, she also saw the importance of building a community through grassroots efforts and on social media, which paid off in real life. Merson had spent most of her time talking about the brand in Texas and New York, and yet at BeautyCon in Los Angeles last year she had young Latinas coming up to her booth saying that they had heard of the brand.
The greatest evidence that Reina Rebelde was having a meaningful impact on women was when Target approached Merson about bringing the brand into their stores. She was not expecting that at all but it was a huge personal win. The positive reaction from the Latina community once the deal was announced made an even greater impact.
“It felt very pivotal emotionally because of the work that Target did to respect us as a community and take a chance on a small brand run by somebody in their community, started by somebody in their community, and so it really feels like a win for the community, and I think everyone has emotionally internalized it that way,” she told HipLatina.
The partnership also ended up being an incredible full circle moment for Merson. “When I was living in Mexico we used to come to Target once a year and do a yearly shopping spree,” she said. This was in the 1980s. Little did she know her product would be in their stores years later. “As corny as it sounds, there is an element of the American Dream about it to me,” she added.
Both parties are dedicated to making sure the Latina consumers feels well represented and respected when they shop. “I wanted to create a brand that Latinas felt was the most elevated, sophisticated, culturally-nuanced representation of what our ethos is about,” Merson said. “Not just what everybody thinks our essence is about.” Getting that right was important to Target and we believe they’re in good hands with the Reina Rebelde founder.
Merson wants to make sure that other Latin American identities feel represented in the brand but she knows she cannot speak for other cultures. She is leaning on her community of customers to make sure their voices are reflected in the best way possible and plans on launching a product next year that keeps that perspective in mind. Fans can also look forward to new lipstick shades and an eye product in collaboration with someone in the community. We have a feeling it’s all going to look amazing.