Who runs the world? According to Queen Bey, it’s girls. While there are still strides to make toward equality in the workplace, there are many women that you can look up to for business inspiration, especially from the Hispanic community. Some balance careers in Hollywood while running their own companies, some have climbed the corporate ladder, and there are some young women whose names you’ll want to keep on your radar. These incredible Latina entrepreneurs and businesswomen will inspire you to reach for more and never settle. Take a look through our must-know list to see what you can learn from these Latina women paving the way for future generations of lady bosses.
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Latina celebrity entrepreneurs
They might be most well-known for their performances on the big screen, but these Latina stars have leveraged their celebrity status to help launch some pretty incredible companies. From wellness companies to beauty brands, these incredible stars are building empires and paving the way for female entrepreneurs everywhere.
Salma Hayek, Co-Founder, Cooler Cleanse and Blend It Yourself
For Salma Hayek, her impressive career resume of actress, producer and model weren’t enough, so she decided to add business entrepreneur as well. In 2008, Salma partnered with long-time friend and Juice Generation founder Eric Helms to eventually create not one, but two wellness companies.
The duo developed Cooler Cleanse, a juice delivery company that provides organic juices that support short cleanses to support customer weight loss efforts and reduce food cravings. Salma and Eric also created Blend It Yourself, which is a subscription service that delivers frozen smoothies mixes that can be used as a drink or as a refreshing face mask, using all natural and organic ingredients. The pair was committed to creating a product that not only makes your skin healthy and look your best but also to creating a delicious tasting product. In their case, you quite literally can have your cake and eat it too!
While coming up with a business plan can be exciting and make you want to dive right in, Salma offers this advice: “Be patient. It takes time if you want to do things right.”
Jessica Alba, Co-Founder and Chairperson, The Honest Company
When she became a new mom in 2008, Jessica Alba was faced with a challenge of not being able to find natural baby products for her child. So, she decided to fix the problem herself. A movie star turned business mogul, Jessica launched The Honest Company in 2011 with business partners Brian Lee, Sean Kane and Christopher Gavigan. Their mission was simple: to create safe, effective products for families that work and are good for you.
Despite having an industry-recognized name, Jessica will be the first to admit that the process of building her business was not always easy. At the beginning, she had a different vision than her business partners where she had wanted to focus on revolving the company around the consumer rather than a business model. The Honest Company has had some setbacks along the way as well, but Jessica remains passionate about providing families with eco-friendly baby and beauty products.
Spoken like a true entrepreneur, Jessica says that the most important and valuable lesson a businessperson can make is learning from their mistakes. “Now, making the same mistake three times, that’s when you’ve some problems (sic). But, you know, figuring it out for yourself, sometimes you just have to go through it. You can’t always learn from other people.”
Sofia Vergara, Co-Founder, Latin World Entertainment
Not only is she one of the highest paid actresses in television, Sofia Vergara is also an incredibly successful businesswoman. Sofia is co-founder of Latin World Entertainment (LWE), a multi-million dollar talent management and entertainment marketing firm which has become the go-to destination for producers to find Latinx talent in Hollywood and learn how to better reach the Latinx community.
The company launched when she and friend and a former music promoter Luis Balaguer saw that there was an opportunity to reach the Hispanic markets that no one was capitalizing on. What started out as simple talent management eventually grew to be a multi-service agency that handles publicity, endorsements, brand integration, production and much more.
While the Colombian bombshell may be known for her beauty and on-screen talent, Sofia knows she has much more to offer. “I have a special eye for opportunities and work harder than anyone might expect. It’s fun to shock people with my business ideas,” she said.
Kat Von D, Founder, Kat Von D Beauty
It isn’t often that you hear success stories that begin with quitting school at 16 years old to become a tattoo artist — but that’s exactly how Kat Von D’s journey begins. Born in Mexico, Kat always had an interest in music and art, eventually pursuing a career as a tattoo artist. She got her first big launch appearing on TLC’s Miami Ink, eventually getting her own series LA Ink that chronicled her work at her own tattoo shop in Los Angeles.
From her successful career as a tattoo artist, Kat made the leap into the cosmetics world and launched a self-named make-up line for Sephora. She’s used her company as a platform for philanthropy, often partnering with charitable organizations and donating proceeds to their causes. In addition to charity, Kat’s entire make-up brand is made cruelty-free and 100% vegan. She’s said that, “Not only is it important for me to create a 100% cruelty-free brand, but also send out a very clear message to both consumers and companies out there: testing on animals in the name of beauty is cruel and unnecessary.”
Kat Von D is a perfect example of how to be a successful businesswoman without necessarily looking the stereotypical part. She inspires people all over the world to embrace their beauty and empowers them to unleash their boldest self, all while doing noble work in the beauty industry.
Powerful Latina business women
While they may not necessarily be household names, these business-savvy Latina women have certainly made names for themselves in the corporate world. These executives play vital roles in some of the biggest companies in the world, and have made significant contributions throughout the course of their successful careers.
Rea Ann Silva, Founder, Beautyblender
If you open up your makeup bag, there’s a good chance you have one of her pink teardrop-shaped sponges in there. The Beautyblender reusable sponge has become the go-to for applying foundations and concealers, and is known for its bright color and edgeless shape. While the blender has become extremely well-known in the cosmetics world, we’ll bet you didn’t know the powerful Latina woman who developed it. Her name is Rea Ann SIlva, whose career in beauty actually started as a side gig at a department store make-up counter. One thing led to another and the side gig eventually turned into a career as one of the most sought-after Hollywood makeup artists in the game.
Rea Ann saw a need for a way to apply makeup on models and actors without showing streaks on unforgiving HD cameras. After trying a few techniques, she cut the edges off of a standard wedge-shaped makeup sponge and created her first rounded edge sponge. With a lot of hustle and proactivity, Rea Ann got her vision of a hot pink makeup blender into production, and launched what we know today as the Beautyblender.
Ana Corrales, Vice President of Global Operations and Google Store, Google
Being an executive at Google is an impressive feat on it’s own. Add in being one of Forbes’ Most Powerful Latinas in Business, one of the Most Influential Women in the Bay Area by the San Francisco Business Times and one of the Top 50 Most Powerful Women in Technology by the National Diversity Council, and you have Ana Corrales.
This powerhouse of a woman hails from Costa Rica, where her parents exposed her to science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) from an early age. Her father worked in the energy industry as an engineer, entrepreneur and inventor while her mother held a PhD and was the dean of La Universidad de Costa Rica. It’s safe to say that her passion for STEM was in her blood.
Today, her impressive accomplishments have made Ana one of the most seasoned leaders in the industry who can successfully grow startup businesses into multi-billion companies. While her path in a STEM-related field may have been influenced by her parents, Ana believes that the only way to find what you’re meant to do is by working in different roles and industries. “I think you should try a lot of things when you’re early in your career, and at the end of the day you’ll find something you really have passion for,” she says, “And I think that passion really carries you far.”
Latina entrepreneurs to watch
One of the keys to launching a successful business is ensuring there’s a demand for whatever service or product you’ll be providing. These women are out-of-the-box thinkers and creatives who are doing some innovative work in their markets.
Tanya Menendez, Co-Founder and CMO, Maker’s Row
It’s something that we hear about all the time in the economy — people want their products to be made here in the USA. But that’s much easier said than done. You might not even know where to begin looking for manufacturer that fits your needs and your budget, and it’s often easier to outsource to foreign countries. But that’s where Maker’s Row comes in.
Tanya Menendez worked alongside partner Matthew Burnett creating a leather goods company, and the duo faced immediate challenges. When working with overseas factories, they dealt with language barriers and drastically different time zones. But when working with manufacturers in the United States, they struggled to find a factory that was the right fit for their needs. They knew there had to be an easier way to find a domestic manufacturer.
Tanya then helped launch Maker’s Row, which has been called a combination of Match.com and Yellow Pages. Maker’s Row connects American manufacturers with American designers and product-based businesses, helping designs find the perfect match for their production needs. Maker’s Row has helped manufacturers produce more than three million products in the United States.
Before becoming an entrepreneur, Tanya held corporate positions with Goldman Sachs as an analyst as well as with Google on their Strategy and Integration team. In addition to co-founding Maker’s Row, she has recently helped launch Snowball, an online platform that helps users tackle debt and investing through free personalized recommendations and affordable coaching.
Alexandra Zatarain, Co-Founder and VP of Brand & Marketing, Eight
When you’re presented with an opportunity that could change lives, it’s hard to turn it down. That’s exactly what happened to PR and brand manager Alexandra Zatarain, who knew that the innovative sleep technology she and her team were creating would make an impact on the health and wellbeing of people everywhere.
While her communications background may be considered more traditional, Alexandra took a leap of faith to become an entrepreneur and co-found Eight Sleep, a technology company that creates smart mattresses using data and science to help users get optimal sleep. Despite some hesitation from initial investors, they managed to raise $30 million and are now selling their technology in major retailers such as Amazon and Costco. To date, they’ve collected and analyzed over 10 million hours of sleep data which has been used to create products that promote the ultimate sleep experience.
Alexandra’s business savvy landed her on the Forbes 30 Under 30 list in 2017 for Consumer Technology, and hopes to serve as inspiration for other Latina women who want to get into the technology world. Her advice to those who want to wanting to pursue an entrepreneurial venture is this: “Take your time, the aha-moment will arrive. Passion has to come from within, don’t push it just to be a business owner… It has to feel right.”
Emerald Pellot, Founder and Creative Director, GRL TRBL
Feeling discouraged and angry after the 2016 United States election, Emerald Pellot decided to channel her emotions into art. What began simply as an outlet turned into the booming online store GRL TRBL (pronounced girl trouble) that brings women of color together. Emerald began designing various digital art prints and pins with messages such as “Stay Woke” and “Latinx Pride and Power,” never imagining that her art would resonate with so many people. Emerald is blown away by the support from females around the country, saying “I don’t represent all women, but I do think [it’s necessary] for us to speak up loudly as much as we possibly can.”
Sofia Luz Eckrich, Co-Founder and CEO, Teysha
So many of us wait around for our dream job or the perfect opportunity to come to us. For Sofia Luz Eckrich, she decided to create the dream job herself. After graduating from the University of Texas, she chose to embrace her cultural heritage and her love for fashion to create shoe company Teysha. The company showcases various styles made by Latin American artists, and Sofia and her team have even built their workshop in Guatemala, where they employee traditional shoemakers to produce authentic, quality products.
No matter where you are in your career, these powerful Latina women can be the perfect role models and inspiration to help you push for more. Don’t be afraid to stand up for equal opportunity and to break down the glass ceiling — one day you just might be an inspiration for someone else.
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