It doesn’t take a biochemist to know that many of the mainstream beauty products out there are often packed with empty promises. Leah Guerrero, a Latina business owner who spent her entire career working in the salon and spa business, knew this truth well enough to ultimately allow herself to be inspired to put better, truer options out there.
Today, the jefa has built a growing empire based off of this understanding called Brujita Skincare. The founder and CEO of Brujita ships her product to customers across the globe, has made appearances in major magazines like Glamour, and sells her products to one of L.A.’s most popular hotels. There her skincare line is provided to VIP clients.
The secret to her success?
Following her quirks and dreams.
Guerrero says that her business sprouted from various influences, but the soul of it came from an impression of her identity.
“Friends would just call me Endearing Brujita,” Guerrero tells FIERCE in the latest episode of “Las Jefas,” a series by mitú. In the episode, Guerrero explains that in her early days of attempting to build her skincare line and brand she went to mercados to find earth ingredients to use in her facials and came across a vendor who became curious about all of her purchases. “I told him what I was doing and he said ‘eres un brujita’ and it clicked.”
For Guerrero, this embrace of her identity– one both earned and perceived– was key to making her own business unique. It’s also an aspect that she says can take someone else’s business to the top as well.
Guerrero biggest piece of advice for Latinas looking to create businesses is to create their own lane.
“And when I mean their own lane I mean be you,” Guerrero says. “If you’re weird and quirky and all of these things then do it make your product weird, make your product weird… Try not to let people get you down or to [project] this map about your life because only you are going to live out that map truly.”
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Thanks to ableist movies like “Me Before You,” “Split” and “The Shape of Water,” when most people think of disabilities they often associate it with all things depressing, scary or pitiful. Mainstream media consistently portrays disabilities in a way that have led many of us to believe that those in the community only come with one story and one shade: ones that are depressing and white. Fortunately, the stories of the disabled community are so much diverse, they’re beautiful, fierce, many are positive and all come in the many different skin tones that contribute to Fenty Beauty’s existence.
Here are nine Disabled Latinas who are challenging beauty standards and showing the world how beautiful and diverse Disabled Latina beauty is.
1. Tamara Mena
Born and raised in Leon, Mexico, Mena immigrated to the United States at 13. The bilingual motivational speaker, actress, and model advocates for disability rights by frequently sharing her experiences on Instagram. When Tamara was 19, she suffered a car accident that left her paralyzed from the mid-chest down. The accident also caused the death of her boyfriend. In the years following the incident, Tamara has worked as a public speaker and encouraged others in the community on how to thrive in the face of a derailment. She participated in the famous beauty pageant Nuestra Belleza Latina as the first woman to be in a wheelchair in the competition and is one of the first Disabled talents to work with Ipsy. These days, she continues to use her voice and style to show young Disabled Latinas that they can achieve their dreams.
2. Jillian Mercado
This Disabled Afro-Latina has been killing it on the runway and in front of the camera since her modeling career took off when she landed an ad campaign with Diesel Jeans. Born with muscular dystrophy, a genetic disease that causes progressive weakness and loss of muscle mass, Jillian has used her voice to highlight how she and others have grown up with a severe lack of disabled representation in the fashion world. Since this New York Based Dominicana’s ad with Diesel Jeans, she has been signed with IMG models and has worked with Target and other large major brands. She’s definitely one to keep an eye on in the fashion world.
3. Marimar Quiroa
This Selona/Latina is killing the makeup game on Instagram and YouTube with her vibrant use of eyeshadows to create signature looks. Marimar is a 23-year-old Latina born with a facial tumor called “Cystic Hygroma.” She uses sign language to communicate with her followers on YouTube and Instagram and spreads a message to others to embrace their beauty. Growing up Marimar felt she needed to hide her face but after discovering makeup, she has embraced her features and found a passion in being a makeup artist.
4. Christina Feliz
Christina Feliz Martinez is a makeup artist and professional model based in Santa Fe, New Mexico. Inspire by her Latinidad, chronic illness, and love for makeup, she uses her platform to share looks that she creates that celebrate it all. Because of her chronic illness, she has retired from modeling full time but does shoots occasionally. These days, she’s mostly focused on her work as a full-time makeup artist who highlights beauty products that can be a benefit to the chronic illness community.
5. Dru Presta
Standing at 3ft 4in, this Puerto Rican-Sicilian model born with a form of dwarfism is on a mission to change the fashion industry one photo at a time. Dru grew up in Reno, Nevada where she experiences bullying and isolation from her peers. Determined to not let the ugliness of others affect her, Presta uses her platform to show her audience that sexy can come in many sizes.
6. Annie Segarra
Annie Segarra, more commonly known online as Annie Elainey is a Disabled Peruvian-Ecuadorian Latinx with Ehlers-Danlos Syndrome (EDS) which is a connective tissue disorder. On YouTube, Annie creates videos that bring awareness to EDS but also speaks about the intersection of being disabled and Queer. Their platform has become a safe space for Disabled LGBTQ+ to feel seen and supported. When Annie isn’t creating videos, they’re slaying on Instagram with their #disabledandcute fashion looks. Their photos show outfits paired perfectly with their mobility aids.
7. Jessica Ruiz
Jessica Ruiz is a Puerto Rican-Irish makeup artist based in Philadelphia whose main tool in creating looks for her clients is her mouth! Born with arthrogryposis, a condition that doesn’t allow her joints to move “normally”, she learned how to apply makeup with her mouth by holding the tools between her lips. She made makeup accessible for herself and after being rejected by a beauty school because of her disability she said “girl bye” and began a career for herself as a makeup artist. Her biggest break came when she had the opportunity to work at the Philadelphia Small Business Fashion Week where she was the lead makeup artist for the event. Jessica is making a name for herself as a disabled Latina MUA, and won’t be stopping any time soon!
8. Elsie Tellier
Living with Cystic Fibrosis (a terminal illness that affects the respiratory and gastrointestinal system), this Mexican-French Canadian uses her wheelchair to show off her love for fashion and her personality. After finding clothes that were comfortable and made her feel good while being in her chair, she began painting her wheels with pictures of galaxies and flowers to match her aesthetics. She uses her mobility aid as a fashion statement that challenges society’s absurd beauty standards. Tellier has said that her big goal is to see fashion brands make fashion accessible for those who use aids like wheelchairs, crutches, canes etc.
9. Giovanna “Gigi” Giscome
This Afro-Latina from New York City and based in San Francisco Bay Area combines her love for fashion and modeling with her disability rights activism. Gigi has said that as she was growing up her parents taught her to love her disability but she soon noticed that that outside of her family atmosphere often revealed how uncomfortable they were with her disability. While she personally felt fine about being disabled she knew she wanted to change the mindset of others and did so with the help of fashion. Modeling and becoming a fashionista is Gigi’s way of fighting beauty standards which typically only showcase white, able models. Her fashion choices make a statement that both she and her disability are beautiful. Her photos show that she can bring it when it comes to high fashion with jaw-dropping looks.
Since we’re so constantly bombarded with news and information on the daily, it’s easy to get bogged down in the negative. Especially this time of the year when the weather might already have us feeling down in the dumps and the looming holiday season might have us stressed out. Also, it’s not unusual to be feeling a little dissatisfaction with what we’ve managed to do or not do with the past year. Unfortunately, this regret and guilt is pretty normal.
Still, with each new year comes a fresh start and there’s inspiration and motivation to be found when we look at our idols who have accomplished so many amazing things. They may not be our own accomplishments, but we can definitely take pride in the success of the famous Latinas who have dominated this year with their many achievements. Get hyped up for these great 2019 accomplishments and maybe they’ll get you ready for a prosperous 2020 of your own.
1. Jennifer Lopez
Instagram / @jlo
Many considered Jennifer Lopez’s movie “Hustlers” her big screen comeback after years away from acting in major movies. While the initial reviews were promising, no one really expected it to be a huge success — but JLo believed. The movie actually received critical acclaim and was called the best performance of Lopez’s career. It also gave the actress her highest opening weekendfor a live action film ($33.2 million). For her performance in this film, JLo has earned nominations for Best Supporting Actress at the Golden Globe Awards, Screen Actors Guild Awards and Critics’ Choice Movie Awards. Not a bad year at all.
Instagram / @shakira
Speaking of JLo, she shares another accomplishment with the second Latina on this list. Earlier this year, it was announced that Colombian singer/songwriter Shakira would headline the Pepsi Halftime Show during Superbowl LIV alongside fellow Latina artist Jennifer Lopez. The performance will be a history making one because this is the first time that two Latinas have ever headlined the Super Bowl halftime show. We’re sure the pair are going to bring some Latina excellence to their performance.
3. Selena Gomez
Instagram / @selenagomez
The first part of Selena Gomez’s year was spent working on a project that focuses the narrative onto a topic that majorly impacts the Latinx community. Called “Living Undocumented,” Gomez worked on the 6-episode Netflix docu-series as executive producer. The series exposes the hardships of being undocumented in America — an issue more relevant than ever. The Latina also focused on music in 2019 and her “Lose You To Love Me” became her first chart topping single in the United States. Her album is set for a January 2020 release so the new year is looking good for Gomez.
4. Lupita Nyong’o
Instagram / @lupitanyongo
It’s hard to believe that the phenomenon that is “Us” happened earlier this year but it did, in fact, come out in February of 2019. In the Jordan Peele horror film, actress Lupita Nyong’o plays not one, but two complex and fully fleshed out characters. As the movie’s main character and her doppelganger, Nyong’o gets a lot of time with the camera and audience so her performance was especially important. The astonishing portrayal has earned her a Screen Actors Guild nomination for Outstanding Performance by a Female Actor in a Leading Role. This award is voted on by her fellow actors so the recognition of her acting skills by her peers has to make this the highlight of her 2019.
5. Becky G
Instagram / @iambeckyg
Becky G started her 2019 with a return back to making English music after focusing on Spanish-language releases the previous year. The beginning of the year brought collaborations with artists like Maluma and Zayn but the musician broke K-Pop stan Twitter with her collab with J-Hope on his remake of “Chicken Noodle Soup.” She also released her long awaited album “Mala Santa.” Music isn’t the only thing to have gotten her love; Becky also released a new palette with ColourPop Cosmetics that joined her existing makeup line.
6. Cardi B
Instagram / @iamcardib
What has Cardi NOT done this past year? That would be a shorter list. To cover her many accomplishments, let’s start from the top. In February, she won 6 Billboard Music Awards, setting the record for the most of any female rapper in history. She made her film debut in “Hustlers” alongside Jennifer Lopez and became a judge for the Netflix series Rhythm + Flow — a hip-hop talent search alongside Chance the Rapper and T.I. Later in the year, she became the highest-certified female rapper of all time, was included by “Time” on their annual list of the 100 most influential people in the world and was recognized by “Forbes” as one of the most influential female rappers of all time. Needless to say, 2019 belonged to Cardi.
With all this inspiration, what will 2020 bring you?