In The Community
“Latinas, at the center of it all,” headlines the “About Us” page of the new haircare and fragrance brand erenzia. They’re not wrong. For beauty brands, Latinas have used their massive trillion-dollar purchasing power to throttle the industry for at least a decade.
Nielsen, the leading consumer research firm in the U.S., has been reporting on Latinas in that period, and they report that the proof is in the numbers. During the pandemic, Latinas were the only non-white group who drove make-up and nail care purchases spending 13% more than the average buyer on personal care.
Nielsen also reports that since 2015, Latinas of all age groups have spent on average $35-50 more per year on personal care items, such as lipstick and hair care products, than all their female peers. They are also driving the “clean beauty” trend by showing the most interest in buying personal care products that are natural and environmentally friendly.
When erenzia writes that “Latinas love beauty. We breathe it. We live it. We are it,” they aren’t using fluff marketing language. Founders Alina Gonzalez, Vanessa Ramos, and Alex Pearl say that they came together to create a brand that has a mission and purpose that centers on the idea that all women deserve better beauty. In doing so, they smartly chose to focus the celebration of this ideal on Latinas and the rich culture that comes with them.
The U.S. beauty and personal care industry is expected to reach an astounding $128.7 billion in revenue by 2030 with Latinas leading the way in that growth.
Erenzia joins many new to new-ish Latina owned beauty brands such as Rizo Curls, Nopalera, artist Becky G’s Treslúce, and Luna Magic, which was founded by two Afrolatina sisters, as well as hair care product brands such as Botánika Beauty or Bomba Curls, both from Dominican Americans, and clean care brands Vamigas and Perla Rose.
Part of erenzia’s mission is to empower women through financial education and mentorship by partnering with non-profit and financial organizations whose vision aligns with theirs. It’s a much-needed effort in a system where Latina founders struggle to attract investors, with less than 1% of all venture capital going to Latine founders.
Latina-led personal care and beauty brands are in their infancy, but it looks like Latinas and consumers everywhere are about to start seeing many more choices on store shelves and online platforms.
“Clean beauty” continues to transform the skincare industry by moving away from products that drench our skin in synthetic chemicals.
VAMIGAS, a Latina-owned, botanicals-focused beauty brand is doing their part to transform the way we care for our skin, naturally. Founded by Ann Murray-Dunning and Christina Kelmon, VAMIGAS uses naturally-derived ingredients in their skincare products inspired by Latin American beauty regimes for Latinx skin texture.
Luz Media caught up with both Ann and Christina to discuss their growing business, the ups and downs of ownership, and the future of their brand. Read on to find out more about these mujeres poderosas and their plans for the future.
This interview has been lightly edited for clarity and flow.
LM: Where does the VAMIGAS name come from? And what inspired you to start your business?
VAMIGAS: Vamigas is a Latina-led, vegan, ethically sourced, cruelty-free skincare brand created from Latin American botanicals from Chile, Peru, Mexico and more, that’s helping bring clean beauty to Latinas, who have been left out of the clean space until now.
Vamigas is a play on the words amigas, and the initials of our daughters, V and M. Lately it’s also starting to mean, Vamos Amigas!
What inspired us was finding out during my [Ann’s] pregnancy and during Christina’s first year as a mom, that there are no clean beauty brands at mass that specifically target Latinas.
LM: Why is that important?
VAMIGAS: We were looking for clean beauty options because many studies – including a very recent study out last month - found that Latinas, who buy and use more beauty products than non-Latina consumers, have more hormone-disrupting chemicals in our bodies.
We also show higher rates of things like infertility and breast cancer and U.S.-born Latinas are even 3 times more likely to experience preterm birth than non U.S.-born Latinas.
Yet, no one is targeting us with higher-quality ingredients.
Latinos are a growing community in America and our spending power jumped to more than $1.7 trillion in the last few years, according to a report from the University of Georgia. We significantly outspend our peers in beauty by 30%. However, Latinas have remained largely marginalized in skincare and beauty. What’s more, most of the major beauty brands don’t understand how to market to our complexity.
This was more than our inspiration. It felt like a calling.
LM: What makes your products so unique?
VAMIGAS: We are the first to source 8 ingredients from Latin America in one formula and the only brand to source exclusively from Latin America. In fact, we are the only brand to only focus on primarily Mexico AND Chilean ingredients. What’s more, we are an authentic Latina team with the background that’s needed to understand our hermanas who are out there looking for green beauty options, and give them what they are looking for.
LM: What words of wisdom would you share with Latinas looking to enter the beauty market as entrepreneurs?
VAMIGAS: Build key partnerships with vendors early on, find who is the best in the biz, but also who you work well with, and make sure they’re strong partners and can scale with you. It’s all about the relationships at the beginning - and that can make or break you during your journey.
LM: What about Latinas looking to enter any entrepreneurial venture; do you have any words of advice for them?
VAMIGAS: Don’t fall into the “busy trap”. In the beginning you’ll be doing a lot of things to try and move the needle. Within that year at some point, you’ll need to prioritize those tasks. What’s bringing you 80% of your success? Focus on that and forget about the things that barely give you anything in return, and that just have you running around looking busy.
LM: Have you experienced any challenges from being a Latina entrepreneur? What about positives?
VAMIGAS: Yes, sometimes as Latinas, you get the feeling that folks don’t take you as seriously as they would two young Mark Zuckerberg-esque white guys pitching their startup. Even when it comes to vendors or partners. The most random folks sometimes want you to prove yourself or your business to them even though you would be paying them. It’s a weird power imbalance. We have only partnered with folks where we feel we have that mutual respect and support.
LM: Lastly, tell us where we can find you online!
In addition, you will now be able to find VAMIGAS at various JCPenney stores summer 2022 in collaboration with Thirteen June. Check out the cities below to find their products near you and get your skin going with that summer glow.
JCPenney: S 10th Street McAllen, TX
JCPenney: Whittwood Town Center Whittier, CA
JCPenney: Michigan Avenue, Dearborn, MI
JCPenney: Glenstone Avenue Ste 200 Springfield, MO
JCPenney: W Division St Ste 96 St. Cloud, MN
JCPenney: Greenville Blvd SE Ste 200 Greenville, NC
JCPenney: Youngstown Warren Rd, Niles, OH
JCPenney: Main St Trumbull, CT
JCPenney: Town East Mall Mesquite, TX
Vamigas: Grandview Pkwy Davenport, FL