When these Latinx entrepreneurs looked at the landscape of wellness, beauty, clothing, books and even stickers, they saw a gap in Latinx representation — and an opportunity to fix it.
We talked to nine Latinx small business owners who view their work as an opportunity to celebrate culture and serve their community.
Loquita Bath and Body founder Yamira Vanegas is famous for her bath bombs, with scents and shapes evoking conchas, flan, horchata, tamarindo and elotes. But she also sells other pampering necessities, all of them vegan and cruelty-free.
“Loquita was created with the purpose of Representation, with the hopes to create products that as a Latinx we would feel more related to,” Vanegas wrote in an email. “To hopefully encourage us to practice self-care more often, since as [women of color], we tend to put it on the back burner.”
So sientate, relaja, and check out some of Loquita’s lotions or creams for a calming night in.
Stickers can tell a story, and that’s exactly what Alondra Carbajal and Remi Silva of Blank Tag Co. hope their merch does for customers.
Their culturally conscious stickers sport phrases like “Me Vale” and transcend nationalities ― some are shaped like conchas and elotes; others like banh mi and ramen.
“Growing up as a Salvadoreña, it was difficult to find products that I felt represented me and my background. As a Korean-Mexican American, Remi faced the same problem,” Carbajal told HuffPost. “It seemed as if the products out there were not validating who we were as individuals because we didn’t fit the mainstream identity. The demographics of the U.S. are changing, but unfortunately, many retail businesses are not adapting to cater to us in an authentic way.”
Vive Cosmetics is made by Latinas for … everyone!
Joanna Rosario and Leslie Valdivia, the Mexican-Puerto Rican duo who run the brand, hope to fill a gap they see within the makeup industry and build a brand based on “la cultura.” They want to serve the diverse Latinx community with their vibrant palettes and an endless list of beauty products online.
In a joint statement to HuffPost, the founders said they see creating Vive Cosmetics “as an opportunity to highlight the beautiful diversity that exists within the Latinx cultura and also tackle and address issues that are damaging in our community, like homophobia, colorism and more.
Sherly Tavarez, a fashion stylist and creative director of Hause of Curls, saw that Eurocentric beauty standards dominated the beauty and fashion industries. The Dominican Afro-Latina was determined to change that.
Her statement clothing slams the notion of “pelo malo,” or bad hair ― the idea that her curls and big hair are things to be ashamed of. She hopes to make girls and boys everywhere proud of their hair and heritage.
“As a first-generation Dominican raised in the United States, I feel it’s important to have a business that recognizes our culture because it shows our authenticity and it is a part of our story and journey,” Tavarez told HuffPost. “It shows that you aren’t just creating a business to make a profit; you’re building something we can all be proud of and make a difference with. For me, it was all about creating something we could all relate to and change the narrative.”
In launching a brand that offers “makeup for today’s Latina,” founder Regina Merson was inspired by telenovelas and her mother’s makeup routines. She brings her Mexican roots into each look she creates, channeling the colors and exuberance of her homeland.
Merson’s makeup is meant to be versatile ― for queens (“las reinas”), rebels (“los rebeldes”) and everyone in between.
“My hope is that Reina Rebelde can make a positive contribution in this regard, serve as an example of authenticity and remind people that being your true self, unapologetically, is highly encouraged and always welcome,” Merson said.
If you’re looking to instill Hispanic pride “en sus hijos y hijas,” look no further than Lil’ Libros. The publisher’s books take your children back to your Latino homeland, wherever that is for you. A new series explores Havana, San Salvador and beyond.
“A business that recognizes your culture is also acknowledging your existence, value, contributions and worth,” said Lil’ Libros co-founder Patty Rodriguez. “Our children cannot be what they cannot see.”
Lil’ Libros books can also teach kids about famous Hispanic, Latinx and indigenous figures throughout history, including Celia Cruz, Cuauhtémoc and Selena Quintanilla.
These shirts, sweaters and accessories make a simple yet powerful statement: The wearers of these garments are proud to be first-generation daughters of immigrants. This Latina-owned business aims to help customers celebrate where they come from.
“We don’t just recognize our cultural stories; we center and celebrate them,” Leslie Garcia told HuffPost. “If we do not do it, who will? We must be the tellers of our stories because only we know the truth about the immigrant community. It is a community of resilience and incredible love.”
This Venezuelan-owned leather goods brand offers unique, hand-crafted accessories, from wallets to makeup bags. Founder Luz Northrup’s long background in design has helped her expand her business’s selection and style.
“Our brand of quality reflects not just who we are, but who you are — intelligent, confident and polished,” her website reads.
Bella Doña is the home of big hoops, long nails and dark eyeliner. Chicana culture runs deep in this shop loaded with jewelry, clothing and fun accessories. LaLa Romero and Natalia Durazo have adorned their merchandise with low-riders, girl power slogans and nods to the Chicana lifestyle.
“Chismosas, brujas y chingonas” are all welcome, and the two amigas have the clothing for all of those who identify as such.
Their online biography reads: “We love our Homegirls, the City of Angels, candy painted Low-Riders, bumping Mary Wells on repeat, micheladas, long, hot summer days and looking fly.”
Nuestras Voces Unidas (Our Voices United) is a HuffPost series created to honor Hispanic Heritage Month and amplify the diverse voices within the community. Find all of our coverage here.