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The Jefa Behind The Beauty Blender Empire Had To Watch People Rip Off Her Approach To Make Up Before Starting A Business

Beauty Blenders. If you check your makeup bag right now, you probably have one in there. The same thing goes for your favorite beauty bloggers. They are more than likely using this product in their videos right now. There’s a reason for this. This tool was the one that revolutionized the beauty game and it was created by a Latina entrepreneur.

The original Beauty Blender was created by makeup artist Rea Ann Silva, a Latina with more than 20 years in the makeup and beauty game. She channeled her expertise to create a product that is now used by makeup artists, beauty bloggers, celebrities and average consumers around the world. 

Her invention has inspired numerous copycats and earned even more awards for its innovation and creativity.  

While the Beauty Blender has sold multi-millions since it was first dreamed up back in 2007, a lot went into first creating the tool.

Twitter / @thisisinsider

As a makeup artist, Silva started her career on the set of music videos for Tupac, Dr Dre, Brandi and Eve. Soon, Silva moved up to movies — doing makeup for films like “Set It Off” and “Friday.” It was on these sets that she learned to work with different skin tones and textures. The Mexican-American became especially good at working with darker skin, something that most makeup artists at the time were not specializing in. 

It was this expertise that led her to a role as makeup artist for the UPN series “Girlfriends.” Working with the actresses on the series was challenging because of how television had evolved. TV was now being shot in High-Definition, a format that showed every detail of the actors’ faces — especially the ones they wanted to hide the most. 

 “On ‘Girlfriends’ I had a unique challenge,” Silva explained to INSIDER, “Suddenly, in HD, you were able to see every pore. You were able to see every bump. You saw everything on the skin as opposed to film where you blast a lot of light and you wear 5,000 pounds of makeup.” 

Airbrushing the actresses with makeup was the best option the crew had to combat this HD issue. However, it wasn’t viable when it came to productivity and practicality. 

“It was a very challenging thing to do,” says Silva, “because you have to pull your actors off the set. Pretty soon it’s a whole production wrangling thing. I would airbrush everyone in the morning, but by the end of the day, the makeup looked heavy.”

There had to be a better option and Silva was determined to find it. 

In order to solve this issue and still get flawless coverage, Silva drew from her background with special effects.  

Twitter / @Jezebel

In the course of her makeup career, the Latina had taken a special effects makeup class to enhance her technique. During one of these classes, the instructor explained that cutting sponges can be done in order to give the right shape for the exact job. This was the moment that Silva was struck with inspiration. 

“I was totally enraptured and I thought, oh my God, this could be it,” she explained to ALLURE.

After experimenting with different shapes and materials, Silva settled on the one that we recognize as the classic Beauty Blender shape. Impressively the formula hasn’t changed since. The special hydrophilic sponge is designed to absorb water. Back in 2007, this was an unusual trait for makeup sponges. The understanding at that time was that this would waste product; soaking it up into a porous sponge. So, sponges were designed to repel water instead. 

However, Silva discovered that if the sponge was wet before applying makeup, water would fill those pores and product would apply smooth. She began by cutting the edges off of traditional triangle sponges to get a more rounded tool. This shape offered beautiful coverage for Silva. Originally created to apply liquid concealer, the makeup artist found that it worked wonders with powder as well. Additionally, it can be used to touch up makeup throughout the day. 

These newly created sponges would be tested first hand by the lead actresses of “Girlfriends” but the true proof of their success came from somewhere else. 

Twitter / @SharSaysSo

Silva and the other members of the “Girlfriends” makeup team had to make new blenders every day. Part of the demand came from their actual use on set but it also originated with frequent theft of the blenders. 

“It was like they sprouted legs and walked away off of the set and I realized people were stealing them,” Silva explained to INSIDER. “When I realized people were stealing them, I was like, I have an opportunity here.”

Seeing the demand, Silva came up with a business plan. From here, she developed the sponge for commercial sales, branding it the Beauty Blender and manufacturing it in the lovely pink shade that has now become so recognizable. Since the sponge went to market back in 2009, the Beauty Blender has sold 50 million units worldwide. 

The Beauty Blender has really has become a cultural icon beloved by those who use it. 

Twitter / @originalspin

What started as a bit of problem-solving has turned into a multi-million dollar endeavor. Since the inception of the Beauty Blender, Silva’s company Rea.deeming Beauty Inc, has branched out. She now offers her own line of makeup, setting sprays, different types of blenders and cleaners. No doubt more innovation is in store for this little sponge in the near future.

The story of Rea Ann Silva and her invention is one of ingenuity and creativity. Is there any wonder that such a nifty little invention came from a Latina? As always, seeing a boss entrepreneur who is solution oriented in her passion inspires us to pursue our own dreams.  

 
 
 

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El Pollo Loco Announces First Round Of Latina Business Owners To Win $10K Grants

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El Pollo Loco Announces First Round Of Latina Business Owners To Win $10K Grants

Ethan Miller / Getty Images

Update: October 14, 2020

El Pollo Local Grants was created to help Latina-owned small businesses and the Latinas who started them. As part of the program, El Pollo Loco awarded $100,000 in grant money directly to ten Latina entrepreneurs who needed support during this pandemic. El Pollo Loco has also set up a GoFundMe to use the momentum and community support to save more Latina-owned businesses. Here are some of the Latina-owned business that El Pollo Loco helped with their grant program.

Thirteen lucky Latina food jefas in Los Angeles won grants from El Pollo Loco.

El Pollo Loco, in partnership with #WeAllGrow Latina, is putting their money back into their community. With Covid-19 devastating small business owners, Latinas in particular, the fast-food chain wanted to help those struggling. In response to the ongoing pandemic, El Pollo Loco created the #FundLatinaFoodJefas campaign to give $10,000 and mentorship to Latina food jefas in the Los Angeles area.

“When El Pollo Loco approached us about working together to support the local Latina business community, we were all in,” Ana Flores, founder and CEO of #WeAllGrow Latina, said in a statement when the fund was announced. “We know that Latinas are driving economic gains that create generational wealth for the broader community, but that the circumstances of COVID-19 have posed a significant threat to our progress. This program will provide the exposure, mentorship, and the cash that women in our community, specifically those in the food industry, need to adapt their businesses to this new reality.”

Thirteen Latina food jefas won the grants. The restaurants and jefas were nominated by customers, friends, and family who wanted to see them thrive. The winners of the grants are Amara Kitchen & Catering, The Salvi Vega, Alchemy Organica, Cafe Santo, La Llorona Bakes, Todo Verde, Andrea’s Healthy Kitchen, Milpa Grille, Salsaology, Twisted for Sugar, Yucas, East Los Sweets, and Alta Baja Market.

Congratulations to all of the Latina food jefas who won the grants to keep their businesses going. El Pollo Loco wants to keep the love going. If you want to help, you can donate to their GoFundMe here.

Original: Covid-19 has devastated millions of Americans with job loss. Unemployment skyrocketed as the federal government failed to create and execute a plan to combat the pandemic. El Pollo Loco is stepping up and giving our community a chance to keep business doors open and community members employed.

El Pollo Loco is giving Latina business owners in the greater Los Angeles area a lifeline in these uncertain times.

The Latino community is the fastest-growing group of entrepreneurs and business owners in the U.S. According to a Stanford University study, Latino business owners grew 34 percent while every other demographic grew 1 percent over the last ten years.

However, Covid has changed things. Latina-owned business are some of the hardest hit and the sudden loss is impacting our community. According to the Pew Research Center, Latinas experienced a -21 percent change in small business ownership and jobs since the Covid downturn.

El Pollo Loco is offering $100,000 in grants to different Latina-owned businesses because of the pandemic.

The fast-food chain has started a GoFundMe to keep the donations going. El Pollo Loco has already pledged $100,000 to help Latina small businesses and the GoFundMe promises to keep the donations flowing. For every $10,000 raised in the GoFundMe, El Pollo Loco will donate it to a Latina small business. The GoFundMe has raised over $100,000 at the time of this post.

#WeAllGrow Latina partnered with El Pollo Loco to give Latina business owners this lifeline.

#WeAllGrow Latina and El Pollo Loco are asking the Latino community to help find Latina small businesses that deserve the grants. Instead of making the decision themselves, #WeAllGrow Latina and El Pollo Loco want you to nominate your favorite Latina small business for the grant.

“This year has been unlike any other, leaving Latina-owned businesses disproportionately impacted,” Bernard Acoca, President and Chief Executive Officer of El Pollo Loco, said in a statement. “Given the critical role brands are expected to play during the pandemic and on the heels of Hispanic Heritage Month, we felt compelled to find a way to support the people and city we call home.”

In order to nominate a business, here is what you have to do.

Credit: weallgrowlatina.com/fundlatinafoodjefas

Using social media, nominate your favorite LA-based Latina small business and tag @elpolloloco and @weallgrowlatina while using #grantcontest and #FundLatinaFoodJefas. You can nominate the business up to five times.

People are already nominating their favorite food places in LA.

You have until Sept. 15 to nominate your favorite Latina small business. You can help them win $10,000 and mentorship from El Pollo Loco to help Latina business owners in LA keep their doors open. You can learn more here.

READ: California Is Poised To Become The First State To Offer Unemployment To Undocumented Workers

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How ‘Latinx With Plants’ Bloomed From Instagram To An L.A. Shop Reconnecting The Gente To Plant Healing Properties

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How ‘Latinx With Plants’ Bloomed From Instagram To An L.A. Shop Reconnecting The Gente To Plant Healing Properties

Growing up, Andi Xoch’s aunt encouraged her to speak to plants. Her relatives usually laughed at the sight of a woman talking to her in-house flowers, but Xoch was intrigued. As a little girl, she acknowledged that there was life inside the pots, so conversing with them seemed standard. More than two decades later, that seed of curiosity about flora bloomed into Latinx with Plants, a digital community and IRL Los Angeles-based shop that teaches Latinxs of their ancestral relationship with herbage.

Sprouted in the spring of 2019, Latinx with Plants started as an account on Instagram. Through the page, Xoch wanted to provide representation of Latinx plant parents that she felt was lacking despite the community’s deep and vast connection with herbs and gardening.

“We’ve had a long connection with plants even before the trend started,” Xoch, a Mexico City-born, L.A.-raised organizer and artist, tells FIERCE.

“I wanted to represent that, to show that we’ve been part of this world even if it’s not presented in an Instagrammable form.”

For the past few years, so-called plant porn has dominated Instagram content. With hashtags like #plantgang and #urbanjungles, the growing trend has helped produce a new generation of young people with green fingers that are boosting sales of houseplants and inspiring even the basement recluse to be a plant parent. In fact, a National Gardening report found that 83 percent of the people in the U.S. who took up gardening in 2016 were between the ages of 18 and 34. Even more, it reported that 37 percent of millennials grow herbs and plants indoors, more than the 28 percent of baby boomers who do the same.

However, with the exception of a few accounts, including Xoch’s friend D’Real who created @blackwithplants and inspired her to make a similar account, many of these digital spaces are overwhelmingly white. This, Xoch says, ignores the history Latinxs have with plants and the sustainable practices they developed while gardening for decades.

“You walk onto our people’s front yards and you see their food: plantains, avocados [and] chayotes. And it’s all sustainable; they use pots made out of buckets and cans. It’s beautiful,” the 32-year-old says. “This is who we are. This is our culture.”

As Latinxs, Xoch says that our Indigenous roots have been forgotten or intentionally kept from us but that we can reconnect to our origins through inherited practices. Among them is ancestral medicines. At her shop, several elders come in and casually inform Xoch about the healing properties of her different plants. While the whitewashed mainstream plant blogosphere has co-opted much of the everyday traditions practiced within low-income communities of color, she finds comfort in knowing that these remedies are being passed down across generations through word of mouth and are not being commodified. 

These informal educational encounters is one of the reasons why Xoch established her brick and mortar in August. Aside from selling an array of plants at the Boyle Heights-located shop, she wanted to create a space where new plant parents and señora gardeners can enter and feel welcomed, experience the joyous power of verdure and learn from one another. 

She says that her mission is to build community and help people who feel depressed, anxious and alone, particularly amid the Covid-19 pandemic, experience the healing power of plants.

“Plants can be an asset to you because, whether you think it’s just for the plant’s sake to be alive, you are actually participating in a self-care act by nurturing your plant,” Xoch says. “They force you to get up every day and help you realize a lot of beautiful things about yourself that you forget to acknowledge: the caregiving, the attention, the love, the dancing, the singing — all the things that make it bloom are also exercises in self-love, self-care and self-preservation.” 

A newbie business owner, Xoch says she now has another objective, though: to offer a non-traditional example of success and to be honest about the struggles of entrepreneurship. 

On paper, Xoch’s road to becoming a boss seems swift and simple: She learned the location of a potential property on a Sunday, visited it on Monday, signed her lease on Wednesday and opened up shop the following weekend. However, the reality is much more complicated. A high school dropout, her lifelong dream to open a business was halted because she lacked the confidence, capital and connections to get started. Even when she did launch the store, the experience was far from easy. Xoch opened her small business from the ground up on a tight budget amid a pandemic and while her father sat ill at a hospital where doctors thought he would die.

“I want people to know this is real shit that people go through. We have the load of the world on us, we are caring for our relatives and we are trying to make sure our business is doing well,” she says. “I walk in [my store] and that alone is defying the odds.”


Follow Latinx with Plants on Instagram. For those in Los Angeles, visit the shop, which is complying with Covid-19 regulations and operating by appointment only, at 2117 E Cesar Chavez Ave.

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