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Women’s History Month Spotlight: 10 Trailblazing Latinas Behind Our Favorite Brands

Happy International Women’s Day! This is by far one of our favorite times of the year and for good reason: we get to celebrate the women crushing it WORLDWIDE and also personally celebrate the women who have made that close to home impact in our lives. Women’s History Month is more than just a proclaimed holiday, it holds high significance to remember and honor the women who have broken down barriers, created change, advocated for themselves, and stand firm to have a voice in this world. Former President Barak Obama has once said that this holiday is a chance to “pay tribute to ordinary women throughout the world,” and that this day “reminds us that, while enormous progress has been made, there is still work to be done before women achieve true parity.” So much work to be made, but  let’s not forget the progress has been PHENOMENAL especially within the Latin community. Being a Latina owned publication (shoutout to our Editor-in-Chief Erika De La Cruz), we have loved discovering (and also meeting) the women who have become influentials and pioneers in front or behind the scenes of some of The LA Girl’s favorite businesses and brands. It’s a true accomplishment to see our fellow “comadres” work hard to overcome stigmas and statistics that have faced Latinos in the past and are still prevalent today. Wealth inequality, pay gaps and funding for Latinos are just some of the many issues that stand as obstacles for our community. Shocking…well of course it is, considering Latina owned businesses have increased at a much higher rate than any other women owned businesses since the pandemic. FYI: 40% of Latino owned businesses are owned by women..YASSS! We’ve been introduced to many of these women behind our favorite brands and we can’t wait for you to meet them too. 

The LA Girl & Beverly Bond PR team together to host a special night honoring Latina women.

It wasn’t just any ordinary day in Beverly Hills the first Monday of March. Together, with our friends at Beverly Bond PR, we kicked off Women’s History Month by bringing together a group of women at the Spanish culinary destination – Tatel. There, we celebrated the accomplishments and the future endeavors of each of these women who are constantly fulfilling their dreams with the work they do. Mezcal cocktails from Doña Vega Mezcal (another Latina owned company) were in the air as we toasted to moments of gratitude and success. Meaningful conversations were had as we discussed ways each of us were going to make moves professionaly and personally. It was a fantastic night met with great service, great food and drinks and great company. So get ready to discover some incredible Latina’s behind some of the best brands out there and who are not stopping from making their mark, chasing their dreams and paving the way to inspire so many others to make their ideas known and voices heard within their industries.

Sandra Velasquez, Founder & CEO, Nopalera

Priscilla Camacho, Vice President of Sales, Nopalera

Sam Gomez, Marketing Manager, Nopalera

The team behind clean beauty brand, Nopalera, is redefining the way that Latinos look at luxury skincare. The core ingredient of the brand is powered by Mexico’s nopal (cactus) and founded by Sandra Velasquez . She launched the brand in 2020 (in the middle of a pandemic nonetheless) with no outside funding or savings while working three jobs and raising her daughter. She says the passion she has for her Mexican heritage extends far beyond the walls of Beauty.

“My pride is loud, colorful, and omnipresent in everything. I was raised by Mexican immigrant parents in California near the US/MEX border. Nopales were integral to my upbringing, as they have been to Mexican people for centuries. They were rich and always there. They were ours.” – Sandra Velasquez

Today, the brand can be found in Nordstrom, Credo, and over 400 boutiques nationwide. It has gained major popularity through its s clean collection of bath and body products made from the nopal cactus, an ancient symbol of Mexican heritage and one of the most nourishing plants in the world. Check this out, in January 2023 Sandra appeared on Shark Tank Season14where she infamously turned down two offers by standing in her worth. Her team proudly stands by her too. We were truly pleased to meet Priscilla Camacho, VP of sales. She is a 4th generation Chicana who has worked with prestigious fashion and beauty brands since 2005, which include Prada, Stella McCartney, Byredo and Boy Smells. She champions Meixcan heritage and is on a mission, through her work with Nopalera, to transform “our customers’ everyday routines into bolder body experiences through our rich and results-driven ingredient blends.” Sam Gomez, Nopalera’s Marketing Manager, also hopes to share the beauty of Mexican culture with the world through the clean body care brand. Her role involves overseeing strategies and collaborating closely with the community. She grew up with nopales all her life so she feels very close to Nopalera because it reminds her of her roots. Sam told us that she is hoping to break the stereotypes that Latina products have to be “bargain” or a “deal” and wants Nopalera to be viewed as luxury like Dior, Chloe, etc. To be able to work on shifting that narrative is really inspiring to her.

Annabelle Gonzalez, Creator of Giant Vintage

At just 22 years old, Annabelle Gonzalez, creator of Giant Vintage, is revolutionizing the eyewear industry. Giant Vintage is  located in Los Angeles, and houses genuine vintage, deadstock, and reworked glasses that scream individuality. Giant Vintage isn’t just about eyewear; it’s a testament to the power of self-expression and personal style. With a passion for fashion cultivated since childhood and an unwavering commitment as a devoted single mom, Annabelle curates every pair of sunglasses, infusing her keen eye for style into each piece. You may have seen our favorite it girlie Hailey Bieber wear her sunnies. More than a thriving businesswoman, she lives purposefully, radiating positivity and gratitude to motivate those around her. We loved chatting with her about her journey and her mindset of positive accumulation. Annabelle truly believes that if you are doing something positive you are racking up positive points in the universe which are leading to something great.

“I hope that my story shows people that you are not defined by your ethnicity and cultural background. If you have an idea, it’s only because you’re capable of accomplishing it. If you don’t do it, someone else will!– Annabelle Gonzalez

Stephanie Montes, Founder & CEO, NUE

Stephanie Montes is a fashion-design graduate turned fashion & beauty editor, turned “must have accessory for every woman” innovator. With years of experience behind the scenes (she’s written and edited for Forbes, Byrdie, MyDomaine, Elite Daily, Elle, Women’s Health, Brides & more), Stephanie knew duct tape was always the secret to going braless under plunging necklines and backless styles. But for some women with a perky pair the duct tape just wasn’t cutting it! Stephanie would be the first to tell you she hated the styling hack. “It wrinkled, it pinched, and it was a nightmare to remove.” Thus, Nue was created. We can tell you from firsthand experience Nue boob tape holds the girls up and gives that perk we only wish our bras gave us. We love that it comes in different shades so no one gets left out. Stephanie’s own personal need plus a mission to cater to women of all shapes, sizes, and skin tones was truly the reason behind creating NUE. The tape is so easy to customize and cut according to any dress style and peel off after taking it off. Not gonna lie, sometimes we use it under sweatshirts and tees when we feel the need to go braless. They also have nipple covers (Pamela Anderson is a fan), in case you want to go tapeless and au natural, so that everything is seamless and covered in case you’re rocking a see through dress.

Since its launch in 2019, Nue has been featured in publications including Vogue, InStyle, Glamour, Sports Illustrated, Daily Mail and more. We loved hearing about Stephanie’s passion for her brand in which she reminded us that there’s nothing wrong with wanting to feel better in strapless and backless styles. We also loved hearing why Stephanie is so passionate about creating something not just for her, but everyone just like her.

“I hope that women who look like me and grew up similar to me can see that if I can aspire for more, they can too. I never would’ve believed in myself enough to pursue my biggest career goals if I hadn’t seen women around me every day doing the same.” – Stephanie Montes

Nue also gives back. Stephanies wants be able to lift women up far beyond replacing bras, so that is why she is dedicated to donating a percentage of Nue’s proceeds to The Breast Cancer Research Foundation. We love that and we love this wise advice from someone who has seen a lot in her career.

“As for your path, it won’t be easy be easy—mine certainly isn’t. But surrounding yourself with ambitious, confident women will give you the confidence boost you need to step out of your comfort zone!”

Davina A. Ferreira, Poet, Writer & Founder of Alegría Publishing

Davina A. Ferreira is the quintessential symbol of the immigrant’s American Dream. She was born in Miami, grew up in Colombia, & attended college in the U.S. After studying journalism, she launched ALEGRÍA Publishing & Magazine, which prides itself on creating beautiful magazines and books for lovers of Latin American Literature and the vibrant U.S. Latine/x writers and poets of today. She then wrote her first book, Take Me with You/Llévame Contigo, a bilingual compilation of short stories and poems of love. If Love Had a Name is her first poetry book and Oprah Magazine has highlighted her contribution to bilingual storytelling and her mission at ALEGRÍA Media & Publishing & her non-profit, Alegría Bilingual Bookstores and Arts Collective, which brings bilingual writing and reading programs to traditionally marginalized poets, artists and performers. Davina is truly a leader in the Latina community. Her passion to inspire others to succeed as entrepreneurs is evident in her work. She strives for fairness in the publishing world telling us that only 5% of Latinas and women of color make up ths world. Davina says the big 5 publishing companies don’t have a fair representation of people like her, so that’s why she started Alegría “to be the representative that is lacking in the publishing industry.”

Sonya Vega, Owner & Founder, Doña Vega Mezcal

For entrepreneur and founder Sonya Vega, creating a modern take on mezcal began simply as a personal project. Vega’s love of mezcal was sparked by her Mexican friends and family who introduced her to the fascinating world of the agave-based liquor. While Vega was obsessed with the bold taste, she found that many versions were too smoky or intense. During her free time, the former PR executive was determined to create the perfect mezcal, traveling throughout the Oaxaca region of Mexico to research and finesse her blend which became, Doña Vega Mezcal. Vega’s current and creative blend honors the bold tradition and unique flavors of this centuries old spirit with a modern twist.

We sipped on two of Doña Vega’s cocktails made for our special celebration: the Frida Margarita and the Pacha Mama. The Frida a signature recipe from the brand which includes cucumber, basil, agave, lime juice and bitters. The other was a concoction from Tatel’s wonderful bar lead that had ginger, honey and sage mixed with the mezcal. Both were delicious and there was no overwhelm of smokiness from Doña Vega’s mezcal. We also found out that the mezcal is produced in a small town outside OaxacaSantiago Matatlán by a family who has passed down the tradition for five generations. Plus the main producer is a woman, which stands out from the other mezcaleras. Her three daughters attended college, which is far from the norm in Oaxaca. One a lawyer, one a nurse, and the youngest finishing school. Doña Vega is without a question modern at its core, but we love that there still exists a profound. adherence to the traditions of Mexico.

Jennifer Aguillon, Producer & Podcast Host, Latina Life with Jen and Milena

Jennifer Aguillon is a proud native Angeleno & two-time Emmy winning bilingual producer with over 20 years of experience. She is a first generation Mexican-American and a Senior Talent Booker for “Access Hollywood” and its daytime talk show, “Access Daily.” She is a member of the Television Academy, the Academy of Country Music, the USC Latino Alumni Association and the California Chicano News Media Association. Her charitable efforts include being a long-time supporter of the Jenesse Center and a volunteer at Project Angel Food. When she is not producing behind the scenes, Jennifer is co-hosting her podcast with her best friend Milena Monrroy, Latina Life with Jen and Milena. They have amplified the voices of various Latina trailblazers through raw and candid conversations so all women, especially Latinas, can relate to. Guests have included  NYT Best Selling Author Camilla McConaughey, Daisy Fuentes, restaurateur Christy Vega & of course our EIC – Erika De La CruzThis podcast is curated for all Latinas globally as this vibrant, creative, innovative, intelligent community reaches far beyond one continent. Their goal is to inspire, support and help listeners take that extra step in a new journey or to overcome insecurities. We had a fantastic time hearing about what she’s learned from her guests and how she has loved telling the stories of those who deserve to be heard. She also reminded us that as women we should never forget about our self worth even if it is sometimes overshadowed by our self confidence. Those two concepts are very different and declaring we are worthy is often more important than taking charge of a room.

Elizabeth Castellanos, LA Community Lead & Latine People Network Chair, lululemon

LA based and native, Elizabeth Castellanos is making waves in the Latine Community with her position at lululemon. She is integral in connecting lulumeon to LA’s community that drives results fro the brand and for the people wearing lululemon. Elizabeth is an inspirational leader behind the scenes and grows excitement for lululemon’s collective by educating local lifestyle influencers, media, local partners and puts on best-in-class experiences and events for the brand. She is key to building relationships and keeping lululemon current and accessible to every Latino living in LA. She is a people and industry leader and amplifies local community strategies for the brand using a mix of traditional and and non-traditional means.We love that Elizabeth is breaking down any stigmas surrounding Latinos wanting to wear lululemon. The brand is for everyone and no one is an exception.   

Michelle Gas, Sr. Industry Relations Manager, Amazon Music

Michelle Gas is a part of Amazon Music’s Global Latin team where she is leading the regional Mexican front. She is passionately working with her team promote Mexican music globally and sharing the culture that connects all us Latinas… Mexicanas to be specific. She is also a part of Amazon Music’s initiative – Gen Mex – to bring new Mexican artists to the forefront and allowing the world to hear their voices. Michelle is truly spearheading her department and has become a trailblazer in Mexican music and culture. We can’t wait to see her bring more amazing Latina’s to the mainstream.

Trailblazer Bonus!

As much as we’d love to highlight every Latina behind our favorite brands boo, our list would longer than Tay-Tay’s long-list of ex-lovers. So allow us to introduce you to Sandra Campos,  a 3x CEO , entrepreneur, board member & CNBC contributor. She is also the founder of Latina Disruptors, an epic yearly event series that focuses on supporting Latina founders through education & networking. Latina Disruptors is coming to LA, along with Wells Fargo (we’ll be there too) to celebrate Women’s History Month and highlight more Latina CEO’s and founders from the most noteworthy brands we love and the one’s you need to know about. Leah Solivan, founder of Taskrabbit, Patty Rodriguez, co-founder of  Lil’ Libros, Ellen Marie Bennett, the CEO of Hedley & Bennett, Katie Kitchens, co-founder of FabFitFun & more will be in attendance and we’ll be bringing you all the details, the inspiring stories, and tips from these Latina stay tuned!

Also, if you want to know anything and everything about the LA editors making waves in their industries, check it out here.