Launch Pad: The Latinx-Founded Brand Boom

GYV Mesoamerican Beauty GYV Hope Candle, $24,

Horacio Portillo came to beauty with decades of experience in operations, but switched gears when he identified a white space for brands highlighting ingredients from Mesoamerica, the stretch of land spanning from Mexico to Costa Rica. Enter his brand, GYV (pronounced “give”) Mesoamerican Beauty, which combines hero ingredients and fragrances from the area in body care. Even the name is a tribute to Portillo’s heritage; he is Salvadoran but grew up in Mexico City. “I started in this industry 20 years ago, and I always have the challenge of either mispronouncing or misspelling words. I wanted to misspell the name of the company on purpose,” he said.

“I noticed there’s a lot of talk about ingredients and scents, and a lot of those scents are from Mesoamerica, but there’s very little representation,” Portillo continued. Vanilla is one such example. “People associate it with Tahiti, but I took a trip to Veracruz in Mexico, where the fruit of this orchid has been cultivated for thousands of years.”

Philanthropy is integral to the brand, which is donating the net profits from the GYV Hope candle, which launches this month on its web site, to a grassroots organization fund called #YouAreEssential. The candle, designed by actress and activist Jessica Marie Garcia, features organic ingredients and a rose scent.


Vive Cosmetics Cremosa Matte Lipsticks, $20, available in three shades at

Vive Cosmetics’ slogan is “Beauty con cultura” (“beauty with culture”), so it’s only fitting that launches from the brand celebrate the diversity of various Latinx nationalities. “We want our company to represent the community we serve, and our staff identifies as Latina and queer, while our print vendors, photographers, identify as people of color, queer, Latinx,” said Leslie Valdivia, cofounder of Vive Cosmetics.

The latest introductions from the brand include relaunched shades of its top-selling Cremosa lipstick, celebrating caribeña (caribbean) cultures. “It’s a nod to being inclusive of who is Latinx, Latino and Latina,” Valdivia said. “The colors are deep, rich berry and plum colors, burgundies. The colors you think of when you think of fall,” she added.

The vegan, cruelty-free formulas, which are intended for long wear, are also transfer-proof, making them ideal in the age of the face mask. “The shining star behind the formula is the longevity. We often call it taco-proof or empanada-proof,” Valdivia said.


OrganiGrow Life Co. Peace Pills, $33,

Kay Cola, founder of OrganiGrowHairCo., got into the beauty game because of her own journey looking to care for her textured hair. So, when she expanded into the supplement category with OrganiGrow Life Co., basing her product formulations off of her own tips and tricks was a natural decision. “I have always been anti-drugs and pharmaceuticals and taken different herbs, and that’s always been a passion for me. I had a baby two years ago, and I suffered from postpartum depression, so treating that was important to me, too,” Cola said. The brand’s Peace Pills, which launched in August, claim to work on a variety of ills, starting with insomnia. “The Peace Pills are intended to help you get a good night’s rest,” she said, but added that she also recommends them for anxiety, depression and pre-menstrual syndrome [PMS].

That being said, the product features natural herbal mood enhancers like St. John’s Wort and adaptogenic herb Ashwagandha. It also includes chamomile for its relaxing properties, and hibiscus for antioxidant/anti-inflammatory support. Just as Cola’s hair company caters to hair types ranging in density and porosity, she said the audience for the Peace Pills is even broader. “Everyone is so stressed out right now, and if you have anxiety, depression or insomnia, it’s for you,” she said.


Araceli Beauty Tequila Highlighters, $18, available in three shades at

Araceli Ledesma sought out to simplify makeup with high-quality, accessible and easy-to-use products when she founded her eponymous cosmetics line, Araceli Beauty, two years ago. Having entered the market with an eye makeup kit in 2018, Ledesma is now expanding into the face category after seeing great demand for highlighters on the brand’s social media pages.

The branding ties in with her native Jalisco, Mexico, a region known for its tequila production, which uses agave oil. Naming the highlighters after the famed spirit seemed an apt way to marry heritage and messaging — the three shades, Blanco, Añejo and Reposado, are also named after tequila’s variants. “It was a nice way to mesh my love for makeup and my culture all in one, and we wanted to name them something fun,” Ledesma said. The formulas are also cruelty-free and vegan, and the brand sources ingredients from Mexico and formulates products in Los Angeles.


Sweet Street Cosmetics Always ‘n Forever Lipstick, $22, available in four shades at

When L.A.-based fashion entrepreneurs Natalia Durazo and LaLa Romero made their first foray into beauty with Sweet Street Cosmetics, they started by making products for themselves. “It ended up being instinctual because we really are our own customers,” Romero said, also adding that women across their communities also had an impact on their creative ideation. “There’s this influence coming from the neighborhoods we grew up in, and similar ones across the country. There’s so much beauty that comes out of the Bronx or Corpus Christi or Atlanta,” she said.

The brand is now wetting its toes in lip cosmetics, launching liquid lipsticks in four different shades this month. The formulas are high in vitamin E for long wear and won’t crack upon reapplication. “They are your dream liquid lip, and it was only right to come out with a classic, Nineties color palette,” Durazo said. “The shades, in mocha, cream, red and burgundy, are like the ones the duo grew up wearing.”

Ultimately, the pair aimed to build off of their community’s own beauty rules and traditions. “We wanted to take these staples in our community and explore them, figure out how to improve them. At the end of the day, our customer can’t be fooled. She knows her s–t,” Romero said.

For more from, see:

Launch Pad: Fall Fragrance Launches

Launch Pad: Black-Owned Beauty Brands to Watch

The Latinx Beauty Shopper Outspends Peers by Nearly 30 Percent

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