When Regina Merson started Reina Rebelde, the first prestige makeup brand that celebrates Latina culture, she knew she wanted to shake up the meaning of beauty.

The name of her brand translates to “rebel queen” and creates two opposing images: a fierce person that doesn’t succumb to life’s obstacles and a sophisticated and put-together leader. Reina Rebelde dares to ask: why not be both?

Loading the player...

According to their site, a Reina Rebelde is an “unapologetic woman who embodies and celebrates all her powerful dualities.” We can be all things at any given time, and we’re beautiful because of who we are.

“The notion of ‘beauty’ is a culturally rich, nuanced ritual to most Latinas’ daily lives, and nothing in this space resonated with me as an immigrant who had become very bicultural but always felt very tied to my roots,” explains Merson in an interview with mitú. “I knew many Latinas in my life who shared this sentiment.”

We spoke to the Dallas-based jefa about how her cruelty-free makeup brand came to be, how her Mexican culture plays a role, and her advice for Latinas looking to become business owners.

A passion that grows into a business

Growing up in Mexico, for Merson, two moments solidified her affection for makeup. She became a fan of the 1987 telenovela “Rosa Salvaje,” starring Verónica Castro and Guillermo Capetillo, which saw edgy, smokey eye looks and the bright lip colors of the 80s.

She would also sit and watch her mother do her beauty routine before going out with her girlfriends at night. Eventually, Merson started collecting makeup and expressing herself in a new way.

She attended Yale University and the University of Chicago Law School, working as a bankruptcy lawyer for several years. She realized she didn’t want to be a lawyer forever and felt compelled to direct her attention elsewhere.

The lack of genuine Latina representation in the beauty realm concerned her, especially as someone who grew up loving makeup. She decided to start a business that authentically presented her culture through a medium she already cared so much about.

“Without my love of Mexico and being Latina, there would be no Reina Rebelde,” said Merson. “The core of my culture drives my passion, tenacity, and constant want for more for me and my community.”

Successfully marketing Reina Rebelde

One of the specific issues Merson had with the lack of representation is the product and messaging perspectives. Since starting the brand, Merson has worked through obstacles like the finicky and ever-changing algorithm and changes to social media, including the rise of engaging short-form content.


Ready for a 2023 makeup refresh? 🙋🏽‍♀️ Our resident makeup educator @anamsiguenza shows us how to use our favorite lippies all over the face for a fresh and sophisticated wash of color. Shop now at ReinaRebelde.com or @JCPenney stores nationwide (store locator can be found on ReinaRebelde.com) #boldlip #reinarebelde #multiuseproducts #lajefa #enchufada #makeupeducator #grwmmakeup #lipproductmusthaves #latinaownedbusiness

♬ original sound – ReinaRebelde

Marketing Reina Rebelde as a prestige brand with an approachable price point was going to be a challenge because of an assumption that the Latinx community isn’t willing to spend money on themselves.

“We set out to disprove these assumptions,” said Merson, who also calls it “pervasive and frustrating.”

They certainly did — products like her Lip Brilliance gloss ($17) and award-winning Bold Lip lipstick ($19) are some of their online store’s bestsellers. Plus, they’re also now available at select JCPenney Beauty locations. Being a Latina-owned brand that creates thoughtful products celebrating our culture has resonated with consumers. 

Everything from the Old English font to recognizable shade names like “¡Híjole!,” “Ponte las pilas,” and “La jefa,” and down to small details like milagros on the packaging makes Reina Rebelde unique. And yes, there’s also a fuchsia “Rosa Salvaje“-inspired lipstick — talk about a callback!

Merson’s advice for budding Latina business owners

Whether you’re considering pivoting from one career to starting your own business or just wanting a side hustle, Merson suggests being fearless and doing things in your own style. 

“There will be so many nay-sayers along the way, but the reality is there are many ways to accomplish something and make it successful,” advises Merson.

She also wants all aspiring Latina business owners to know that asking for help is okay. Seeking out small business owners in your area or fellow Latina entrepreneurs to connect with creates a network for any difficulties that may come up. 

“There is a huge community of business owners that have ideas and wisdom to impart. They are just waiting to be asked,” said Merson.