Hometown: Born in Guadalajara, Mexico. Currently based in Dallas, Texas.
Founder of Shop @ReinaRebelde
Words to live by: Success consists of going from failure to failure without loss of enthusiasm – Winston Churchill. I’ve internalized this quote more and more with every year. Whatever you decide to do, make sure you have passion for it, as failures are inevitable along the way. I fail daily now, and I have developed a pretty good sense of humor about it. My old self could not tolerate the idea that I would do something in a less than perfect manner. What I’ve learned is that failures are rarely fatal and mostly comical if you have the right attitude about it. Every time I mess something up, we joke that it is a “classic Regina” move. I feel proud that I have been able to incorporate so much of this sensation of failure into my daily life and have grown resilient because of it. The point is to always get up again and just keep going. Persistence and passion are the most critical!
Interview by Zaida Diaz
What were you doing before you decided to become an entrepreneur in the cosmetic industry?
I was sitting at a desk in front of two computer screens in a black pencil skirt, four inch heels and bright red lipstick for 16 hours a day practicing law as a restructuring/bankruptcy attorney for an international law firm. My lipstick was on point though!
Did you always know that this was the career path for you? What kind of training/schooling did you do to prepare yourself?
I spent the majority of my 20s in a library studying to become an attorney and shifted careers rather dramatically. Like a good Latina, I was always obsessed with all things beauty (makeup in particular). So my preparation was in turning a passion of mine and a hobby into a business. If being a Latina doesn’t make you an expert in beauty, I’m not sure what does.
How did you come up with the name Reina Rebelde? What’s the meaning behind it?
The inspiration for the name was my attempt to capture the complicated, but fierce dualities of the Latina identity. Every Latina I’ve met just has that certain confidence about her beauty and there is a level of respect between us about how we express our feminine power – hence the Reina part. We all believe ourselves and each other to be queens and on the inside we all have this fire and passion we bring to everything in our lives. We lay that on thick too – hence the Rebelde part. When you mix the two, you have a name that perfectly encapsulates the unapologetic, fierce, soulful, unique beauty of the Latina woman. We live with these coexisting and often conflicting dynamics within us and we radiate it in all that we do, and of course, our makeup. Like I say, if you ever want to know what kind of mood a Latina is in on any given day, look at her makeup. In the case of our brand some days she will look a little more Reina and other days more Rebelde.
Your cosmetic brand celebrates cultural identity, why was this so important to you?
I’m a deeply nostalgic person and have always held romanticized notions about growing up in Mexico. Even deeper than that, my family roots, my Mexican heritage is the core of who I am and that becomes more evident the further away I am in time and space from that. The nostalgia and identification gets deeper the older I get. The more life experiences I have, the more I appreciate how I bring my Mexican sensibilities to all that I do, and I feel incredibly proud about it. It really anchors my identity in a way that is authentic and real for me. I think being Latina has been the privilege of my lifetime, so naturally I was going to incorporate that into my life.
From conception to production, did you ever have any pivoting points?
Yes, quite a few. For example, the branding ended up being completely different than the picture I had in my mind at the beginning and my distribution strategy has changed several times. I suspected that might be the case, since this was my first time at this rodeo, so I built in as much flexibility as I could where possible.
As far as the business side of things, was there anything that you had to teach yourself along the way?
Everything, down to how to post a video on social media. There are so many aspects to launching a brand and running a business. The creative aspects have been the most fun and those are the parts that come most naturally to me. The rest of it has been a quick learning curve. However, I never thought (nor did I expect to be) good at everything, so I’m very critical and honest with myself about the parts I’m not great at. I try to get help with those quickly. I cannot master every single aspect at once, and I have no problem admitting that. If I was perfect and everything went as planned this would be a rather boring experience. The detours and mistakes make it a much more interesting adventure. The highs are higher and the lows are lower.
I’m certainly not a genius either and I think that is a big misconception about starting your own business. Passion, persistence, flexibility and attitude will carry the day more often than not.
Where you ever hesitant or did you ever doubt yourself throughout the process of building your brand? How did you overcome this?
I actually have never had a moment of doubt about the concept. I have, however, had plenty of doubt regarding my capacity to execute aspects of the business. When the self-doubt kicks in, I usually indulge it for a little while and focus on something else until the feeling passes (as it always does) and then I tackle it anew. It boils down to fear, which is just a mental construct and thus fleeting. Doing something you believe in is really a vulnerable place to be and it comes with tremendous feelings of heartbreak. Everything feels personal, but that is a small price to pay for doing what you love.
I don’t let the outside world determine what I focus on during any given day (unless it is an emergency of course) because I have learned that some days are better for creativity and others are better for more detail-oriented tasks. It saves me a lot of angst to go with that flow and it gives me the permission to walk away from something that feels loaded with self-doubt for a day or two.
Where do you draw inspiration from?
My biggest sources of inspiration are my customers, the women I meet through this business and my travels. However, I find inspiration in the smallest of daily details too. I keep a running list of these things on my phone as it always strikes when I least expect it. Many of them start of as a ludicrous, seemingly non-makeup-relevant idea, but then transform into something actionable and on point. It could be a song I hear, or a meal I’ve had, a conversation I’ve just had, or someone I see on the subway that makes me feel something.
I try to pay attention to anything that gives me the “feels.”
Have you ever felt creatively challenged? What are some ways you combat this?
All the time! The brain is really amazing and processes data and concepts at its own pace. I don’t think you can or should try to rush a creative effort. You have to respect the process. This means sometimes I have to step away, take a nap, go for a walk, sleep on it, move on and then when I least expect it, it comes to me. It has taken me a minute to trust this process, but now I do.
What three main things make for a thriving cosmetic business?
Passion for your products, passion for your customers and patience (so much patience!)