Beauty lovers, rejoice! There’s a new makeup line on the market, and it’s the unapologetically bold collection we’ve all been waiting for.
Reina Rebelde (“Rebel Queen”) is the brainchild of former bankruptcy lawyer Regina Merson. As an established Latina woman in the legal field, Merson always knew her passion was elsewhere. Like most aspiring creatives, Merson noticed a gap in the market for beauty products that really spoke to her and her Mexican culture. Five years ago, she decided on the concept, and it wasn’t until three years later that she made her daydream a reality and a full-time gig.
“Growing up in Mexico, my makeup obsession started with the [soap opera] Rosa Salvaje (“Savage Rose”) and sitting at my mother’s feet watching her beauty rituals.” says Merson. “Years of makeup hoarding later, my collection is equal parts wild and unpredictable, bold and impractical, feminine and luxurious, sexy and severe — in many ways perfectly reflective of my complicated identity as a Mexican woman embracing an amazing American existence.”
Reina Rebelde is just that and more. The packaging and the colors are reminiscent of the food, music, and fashion in Mexico. Merson worked with a design agency, the Design Spot in New York City, to bring her vision to life. “The packaging is meant to speak to our dualities. We are Latina and American, we speak English and Spanish, and with each layer we become more complex, colorful, and multidimensional than the last,” she says. The sleek black packaging also features spiritual symbols like the milagros, which are the centerpiece of the design. “These are not just lipsticks or eyeshadows. They are colors that are shaping and blessing our lives and our journeys,” says Merson.
With a diverse customer base in mind, all Reina Rebelde products come in a variety of shades and are highly pigmented. Cosmetics and accessories range from $15 to $37. Beauty mavens have been raving about the Bold Lip Color Sticks, Lip Brilliance, and the 4 Play Wet Dry Eye Color palette. “Our Lip Brilliance in Enchufada is a customer favorite,” says Merson. “It’s an electrifying gold, which fans keep telling us performs like a highlighter for your lip.” We like the Bold Lip Color Stick in Brava, a fiery, bold red lip color with a satin finish. It’s long-wearing and glides right on, perfect when you’re on-the-go. The 4 Play Wet Dry Eye Color palette is also great, as you can use it wet or dry to play up the intensity of the colors on your lids.
For the launch of Reina Rebelde, Merson decided to use real women as models for the collection. The Reinas y Rebeldes (“Queens and Rebels”) included a comedian, public relations experts, and makeup artists. “I draw inspiration from all the Latina women of all ages that are around me. These real women are badasses,” she says.
Starting a new business is never easy, and Merson’s biggest challenge initially was whether or not she was making the right move to launch the makeup line. “The hurdles are very high in the cosmetics industry. It is intimidating being a very small beauty brand with a very specific point of view and a unique audience,” she says. “The biggest challenge was just deciding to actually risk it all and start Reina Rebelde.” Merson realized that this was her dream and was up for the challenge. Her next difficult task was pairing down the colors and product offering for the brand launch. She wanted each product to go along with her experiences in Mexico.
As cultural appropriation is starting to become the norm in the beauty industry and is an ongoing trending topic on Twitter, Merson points out that Reina Rebelde is clearly a nod to her Mexican culture and her inspiration. She encourages everyone to learn about different cultures and start a dialogue. “Authenticity is everything, but it is not done at the exclusion of anyone else. For Reina Rebelde, we are doing us, the way we know how to do us, which is a very unique point of view and a nuanced but powerful statement all on its own,” she says. “However, if someone who is not Hispanic, Mexican, [or] Latino is interested in learning about it, our beauty rituals, our respective cultures, I personally welcome and encourage that, because I believe that what is uniquely yours and authentic can never be taken from you, but it should be shared with others.”
Merson also prides herself on employing people of color for her Latina-owned and -operated company. She values having a team of employees connected to their heritage, who are hardworking and can contribute to the growth of the brand. “I strive to have a work environment where people can be unapologetic about bringing their personal cultural experiences and unique ideas to the table,” says Merson. “I truly do believe that if people bring their authentic selves to the workplace, it is a better experience for them and more beneficial for everyone else.”
This is only the beginning for Merson. She is working on creating new shades and combinations inspired by Mexico — everything from the tequila to the fruits to the vibrant colors of her homeland. What she loves most about her new venture? “The most incredible part of this journey has been meeting all of these different women who each have a unique story that is more mind-blowing than the next,” she says. “I want all of these women to connect with each other, even if lipstick shades are the first thing they are talking about, because there is so much to learn from each other. I want Reina Rebelde to help them connect.”