For many immigrants, leaving their country and adjusting to a new home can be tough and often scary. It can be difficult to find your footing after uprooting your life and starting from scratch, especially when you don’t have any connections. After Ydelays Rodriguez immigrated from Guatire, a small city in the Venezuelan state of Miranda, to the U.S., she felt out of place and struggled with loneliness. To stay connected with her friends and relatives abroad, Rodriguez started her YouTube channel in 2013. Ten years later, the Los Angeles-based beauty and lifestyle influencer has worked with a myriad of beauty brands, amassed 308K Instagram followers and 871K Youtube subscribers, and created her own beauty brand, Golden Dream Beauty.
As a Latina in the beauty industry, Rodriguez felt that there should be more representation for Latinas. She launched her business in 2019, selling a line of four multi-use pairs of vegan and cruelty-free false eyelashes along with the new volumizing Dream On Mascara. As an immigrant Latina, her mission is to inspire women like her and show them that they too can achieve their American dream, create opportunities for themselves, and reach their goals.
“I decided to create Golden Dream Beauty to create a space where we could represent the community, but not in a superficial way, but more like introducing our culture a little more to the world a little more. We Latinas, we should have more beauty brands out there. We should be everywhere; we are capable of doing so many amazing things,” Rodriguez tells HipLatina. “We have always been recognized to do the work that people don’t want to do or just to fill a box, so for me, creating Golden Dream Beauty was creating that Latina-owned elevated beauty brand because I always feel like I want people to know that we could do really good quality stuff [and] we could do the whole thing too.”
Born and raised in Guatire, this jefa’s passion for beauty and desire for success was born at an early age while growing up in her abuelita’s salon. Beauty routines and being “arreglada” were extremely important to the Venezuelan women she grew up with; She grew up seeing how special her mother’s skincare routine was to her and how important wearing makeup was to her abuela, who would wear mascara even to sleep. She recalls feeling like a proud granddaughter when people told her how beautiful and special going to her abuelita’s salon made them feel. Eventually, Rodriguez embarked on her own beauty journey after she bought her first face powder in high school and fell in love with mascara.
Although she loved her country and hometown, she always had dreams for something bigger and felt that she needed to come out of her shell. At 17 years old, Rodriguez moved to the United States and settled in Boston to learn English. She still remembers how awestruck and inspired she felt when she first stepped foot in a Sephora store in the U.S., as the makeup aisles in her home country were usually very small and limited, and she often had trouble even finding her foundation shade.
“[Immigrating to the U.S.] was a rollercoaster-like experience. Coming from Guatire, I had a simple life with lots of love in my family; it was a big change because although Guatire was more of a city, I saw it as something smaller, so my experiences were smaller,” Rodriguez explains. “It felt like I was hidden in a cocoon. When I got to Boston, everything started feeling bigger like, ‘Oh wow, now I can do so many things here if I put in the effort.’”
With the revival of her interest in makeup and all things beauty, Rodriguez felt that Los Angeles was the place she needed to be; two years later in 2012, she moved across the country from Massachusetts to California to pursue a career there. Initially, Rodriguez had difficulty acclimating to her new environment, as she didn’t know anyone or have any connections in L.A., and she began feeling isolated and lonely. To stay in touch with her friends and family in Venezuela, she started her Youtube channel in 2013 as a creative outlet and began sharing makeup and beauty tutorials to show off her skills.
To her surprise, people outside of her family soon began watching her videos as well, and she slowly began building a following. She eventually landed a job at Macy’s, where she worked behind the beauty counters for Lancôme and Benefit Cosmetics. Though she never planned on using her channel to become famous or successful, Rodriguez slowly amassed a strong follower base that enjoyed watching her beauty content and learning about her life. During her journey, she remembered her mother’s and abuela’s routines and started looking for that balance of doing makeup to enhance her natural features and beauty with the hopes of inspiring others to embrace their own.
“The concept of beauty routines have evolved through the years, especially with the passing of the years and generations. My abuelita was like ‘no one can see me without makeup’ while my mom was more like ‘I gotta take my makeup off at night [and] I’m going to take care of my skin so I can look young forever.’ It’s the same concept in terms of keeping beauty as a very important topic but for me, it’s a balance,” Rodriguez says. “I feel like I’m breaking a cycle that people can’t see who you really are because that’s something that’s important to me. I also feel a responsibility in getting to be a leader in a community where people of all ages follow me, so it’s important for me to show who you are, show when your skin is looking great and when it’s not, and a little bit of both so it’s more real and also relatable because we all know now that the perfection they used to show us isn’t reality.”
Around the same time, big name makeup brands began noticing Rodriguez’ skills on her channel. She soon got her first partnership opportunity with Maybelline, which inspired her to incorporate more of her favorite brands and continue the tutorials. In 2015, she received an email from L’Oréal inviting her to the Latin Grammys as a L’Oréal girl; ecstatic about the opportunity, Rodriguez, who grew up watching those award shows in Venezuela, instantly accepted and it became the first of many red carpet opportunities.
“Going with L’Oréal, that was life changing for me. Having a stylist and getting all glammed up and walking the red carpet next to some of my favorite artists that I admire, that was something that I was like, ‘Oh wow, dreams come true.’ I did that for like five Latin Grammys in a row, so it was super cool and I couldn’t believe it. It was like one of those moments where you’re like ‘ok pinch me, I’m here.’”
As her supporter base grew little by little on Youtube and Instagram, more and more doors started opening for Rodriguez. Throughout her journey as a Youtuber and influencer, Rodriguez worked with a variety of luxury brands like YSL, Laura Mercier, Too Faced, and Lancôme. However, she noticed that while she and other Latina influencers were included in brand campaigns and experiences, it sometimes felt like Latinas were included to check a box. She thought that the roots and the diverse cultures that many Latinas in the beauty industry hailed from weren’t celebrated much. After she was fired from her job at Macy’s in 2017, Rodriguez saw a gap in the market, and around 2017-2018, she began creating her own beauty brand to celebrate the beauty of Latinidad and the richness of Latinx culture.
Rodriguez launched her own false lashes brand, Golden Dream Beauty, in 2019 to challenge herself and create positive representation for Latinas in the beauty industry. At first, things were challenging, as she’d just given birth to her son, Matias, a year before creating her brand. Determined to push herself and succeed, she put her trust in herself and invested in her brand. As Rodriguez worked hard to establish her brand and learn to navigate the beauty industry, her decision soon paid off, and Golden Dream Beauty expanded little by little.
“I want to break the cycles and I wanna generate generational wealth for my family too, and I feel like if you stay in that comfort zone, things never happen past that,” Rodriguez said. “I always feel like if you have the passion and you’re patient, and you love to learn, you can do anything you can think of. Just know it’s not gonna happen overnight.”
Throughout her journey with her beauty brand, Rodriguez faced challenges like not knowing the proper business terms. Having not gone to business school, she often found herself stuck on certain issues but she avoided asking for help. With time, Rodriguez worked hard to overcome challenges and learned how powerful exchanging knowledge can be, building a team of advisors and a strong support system around her. Through her business, she’s taken risks and pushed herself to inspire immigrant women like her to believe in themselves and make their own American dream come true.
“I just want people to know that it’s possible and that I’m not from here and I’m so humble and proud to be here today, but sometimes when there’s no seat for you at the right table, you can create a table and put as many seats as you want around you, and I feel like that’s part of my mission too.”
Her business sells four different sets of vegan and cruelty-free false lashes and the new vegan Dream On Mascara. To create the new volumizing mascara, Rodriguez worked with a lab in Italy and a chemist who developed the clean, cruelty-free formula. Near the end of July, the vegan mascara was released, and according to Rodriguez, Golden Dream Beauty is only getting started.
“My accomplishments are when I see people wearing the products; when I see people happy, like telling me ‘I love it, like I put it on, and I feel like I’m ready for my day. Just seeing the people from the community that feels like family loving something that I worked so hard for just to bring that joy and bring that confidence to them to be part of their days; hat’s my greatest accomplishment: to be able to inspire people and to see people happy with the things that I have worked on. “
Running her business and building her personal brand while being a mother and managing her life can be difficult. As such, Rodriguez tries to maintain a balance between her professional and personal lives by making sure to take time for herself and disconnect completely when necessary. Just as she sets time aside for her business and social media posts, she prioritizes having quiet moments where she can work on herself, spend time with her family, and stop thinking about work. To take care of her mental health and wellbeing, Rodriguez routinely goes to therapy to get her feelings out and get some weight off her shoulders. Additionally, the Venezuelan mama and jefa avoids working on the weekends and takes advantage of the time she gets with her son at home to ensure that she is there for her son every step of the way.
“Having moments where you can stop thinking about work and just enjoy that you are alive, something as simple as that, and that you’re breathing, I feel like it’s healthy for all business owners and for everybody in general,” Rodriguez tells HipLatina. “Having a balance of knowing when to disconnect from work is really important.”
Being a Latina business owner, Rodriguez knows how hard it can be to take a risk and create your own brand, and she’s a staunch advocate for supporting Latina-owned and Latinx-owned businesses. Rather than supporting faceless brands that don’t really uplift our community, Rodriguez believes that Latinxs should put their money back into Latinx-owned businesses and brands to strengthen and enrich our communities and create more opportunities for those to come.
“I think that the most important thing is showing up for your community, supporting in all the ways you can, and trying to make Latinidad trendy during the whole year, not only during Hispanic Heritage Month. Support your Latino-owned brands always; there are so many good small brands that deserve to be highlighted.”
For Golden Dream Beauty and Rodriguez, the future possibilities are endless. Moving forward, Rodriguez aims to make sustainability and transparency a priority for the beauty brand while keeping her eye on quality control. Currently, she has a product in the works that will launch next year and expand the brand’s product range, and she’s looking forward to accomplishing more with time.
As her brand grows, Rodriguez would like to see more support for Latina-owned brands and small businesses. Despite the twists and turns of her story, beauty journey, and career path, Rodriguez stayed patient through it all and put her faith in her dreams. For Latinas hoping to start or grow their own business, she suggests that they stick it out, believe in themselves, and never give up, as you never know when your dreams will come true.
“Know that we can do big things. We can create opportunities that maybe don’t seem like they exist. We don’t have to always conform just to be comfortable. We can take challenges and take big roles, and I feel like we’re meant for that. Our culture teaches us to work hard,” Rodriguez says. “Don’t think about if you can’t do it; believe that you can and think about how to do it. Because I feel that we can create the opportunities of our dreams and have those visions. Visualize how you want your life, what you want in your life, what your passion is, and then everything that you do, do it towards that goal.”