It is currently Latinx Heritage Month, and that means we’re celebrating the achievements and contributions that Latinos have made to U.S. culture. It’s no secret that Latinas are strong and resilient, and we take every chance we can here at mitú to recognize that. Now, more than ever, Latinas have been stepping into the entrepreneurial space as business founders, owners, and CEOs.
Latinas may face unparalleled hurdles, challenges, and feelings of imposter syndrome, but that doesn’t keep them from accomplishing the impossible. As Zoe Saldaña once put it so beautifully: “People think of Latina women as being fiery and fierce, which is usually true. But I think the quality that so many Latinas possess is strength.” Here are a list of 6 strong Latina CEOs queens who are crushing it.
1.Yasmin Maya: Founder of Birdy Lashes
Yasmin Maya is a beauty entrepreneur and lifestyle creator. Born and raised in the State of México, from a pueblo called Amatepec, Yasmin came to the U.S. as a young teen. Being the only girl in the family, Yasmin taught herself how to do her makeup and loved glamming her mom and tías.
In her first video uploaded in 2012, she speaks about an incident that almost burned her face, burning all of her lashes. Since then, she’s been an avid user of falsies to define her eyes. In 2012, at the age of 21, Yasmin took a leap of faith and decided to start a beauty YouTube platform, naming it after her nickname ‘Birdy’ but with a beauty twist, Beautyybird. Eight years later, Yasmin has created a safe home for her ‘Beauties’, showcasing herself as a proud Latinx with over 3M followers.
Yasmin has become an authority in the beauty space, working with large beauty brands and breaking down barriers for Latinx consumers and talent alike. She’s used her voice to speak up and showcase that she is proud of her Mexican heritage and is seen as an inspiration to those who feel the need to hide their background to be accepted in the beauty industry. In 2020, she achieved her biggest dream yet – and that was the launch of her very own brand, BIRDY LASHES. This brand came out of Yasmin’s passion for the beauty industry, the love for her culture, and wanting to create lashes and lash tools that are not only the best quality but affordable – always keeping her ‘Beauties’ in mind. IG: @beautyybird
2. Margarita Arriagada: Founder of Valdé Beauty
The story of Valdé is a blend of the personal and professional. What began as an homage to her immigrant mother’s courage and determination, took on to become an artistic tribute to all women. Margarita Arriagada took on the lipstick business at full force and introduced us to Valdé Beauty – a luxurious refillable lip collection retailing at $200 in October of 2020.
Margarita is a first-generation Peruvian American with quite the beauty resume, which has nicknamed her “The Godmother of Beauty” by a few. As the former Chief Merchant of Sephora USA, Margarita worked in merchandising strategy, always focusing on differentiation, innovation, and elevating the client experience in this role. She is responsible for entering some of the most successful and expansive brands we see at the retailer today.
With Valdé Beauty, Margarita hopes to elevate the lipstick experience. In her vision, lipstick is more than an afterthought – it is an armor for confidence, a celebration of authenticity, and honors what it means to be unapologetically you. IG: @valdebeauty
3. Lilliana Vazquez: Founder of The LV Guide
Lilliana is known as one of the fashion blogging OGs, and has carried many titles – from blogger to style expert, TV commentator to now a television host on E!. The enterprising star has curated a career that began from her small blog (CheapChicas.com), which she launched in 2008, to being seen by millions daily on numerous platforms including NBC TODAY, “Extra” to “The Talk,” “Rachael Ray,” “The Wendy Williams Show” and “Steve Harvey.” Today, she’s at E! as a host of Daily Pop.
Born and raised in Fort Worth, Texas, to a Puerto Rican father and Mexican mother, Lilliana is a first-generation Latinx who radiates gratitude for the dedication and sacrifices that her family made for her. Among the first in her family to attend college, she graduated from George Washington University, where she earned a double-major in international business and entrepreneurship. Lilliana has always used her platform to advocate for her community, and fight for Latinx representation in media and entertainment, as well as raise awareness on social issues.
In April of 2021, Lilliana announced she was pregnant with her first child, after battling with six years of infertility and IVF. After living this experience, Lilliana wishes to use her voice and platform to break the taboo around infertility and how it affects the Latinx community. In late July, Lilliana announced the birth of her healthy baby boy, Santiago “Santi” Merrick McGrath. Lilliana hopes to continue sharing about her journey to motherhood, the lessons, the challenges and hope with other mothers and those who hope to experience motherhood one day. IG:@lillianavazquez
4. Ona Diaz-Santin: Owner of 5 Salon & Spa
Ona started doing hair 20+ years ago. Influenced by her great-grandmother in the Dominican Republic who cut hair for her friends and family and then by her mother, an immigrant hairdresser who owned four shops in NYC and New Jersey over a period of 20 years, Ona’s destiny was a no brainer and today she is encouraging others to embrace self-love through their hair– their natural hair that is.
As a child and young adult, she neglected her natural hair due to the taboo of it being known as “pelo malo” which translates to “bad hair”. Until she discovered her love for her natural hair and she made it her mission to educate others on self-love and learning to accept their natural curls. Ona’s ambition, coupled with hard work, paid off and in November 2017, she became the owner of 5 Salon & Spa, which is located just outside of New York City in Fort Lee, New Jersey. In 2019, 5 Salon & Spa was named by Refinery29 as one of “The Best New York City Salons for Natural Hair & Curls.
Ona uses her creative talents in all facets of the media and has worked with a mix of actors, musical artists, and corporate executives. Next to raising her family, supporting women in the salon business are Ona’s priority. She’s been featured in various publications (in both English and Spanish) including ELLE, Oprah Magazine, People En Español, and more. IG: @_thehairsaint_
5. Karen Perez: Founder of Second Wind
Karen Perez is truly a face behind a mask– the mask. The New York-based Stylist/Designer launched Second Wind, a boutique quickly turning heads for its empowering line of handcrafted masks. Amid the coronavirus pandemic as well as recent waves in social justice reform, this bold Latina sought to embrace a new “normal” with her talents. As clients inquired about stylish masks that wouldn’t hinder their busy lives, she designed a mask that could enhance the natural contour of feminine features while remaining true to practicality while making a statement for women.
Second Wind carries the intent to empower women with every decision. With every piece Second Wind brings to life, there is a message of spirit, equality, and persistence as the world embraces a new normal. Since the brand launched last June, Second Wind has received press recognition in outlets such as Vogue and WWD, and support from women like none other than AOC. IG: @bysecondwind
6. Karina Rosendo: CEO and Founder of Stitch Lab
A native from Caracas, Venezuela, Karina came to the U.S. as a young child and discovered her love for broadcast journalism during her teenage years. Karina has held the job titles of being a TV producer, a digital marketing strategist, and now a fashion entrepreneur with a startup business that’s changing the perception of fashion inclusivity, bringing awareness to Latin American talent to the U.S. While TV was her daily hustle, fashion was another passion of hers she couldn’t give up.
In 2018, she launched Stitch Lab, a talent incubator based out of Miami that supports emerging designers from Latin America. Since its launch, Stitch Lab has propelled more than 100 brands in the U.S. and has curated multiple pop-ups cross-country. In 2020, Karina introduced Stitch Lab’s online marketplace as a virtual solution during the COVID-19 pandemic to offer consumers access to some of Latin America’s most treasured fashion talent.
As a CEO and founder of Stitch Lab, Karina continues to lead its mission to deliver coveted designs and showcase hidden talents, paving the path for these brands to connect with local wholesale buyers, press, and influencers. IG: @rosendok
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