BY CAROL TETER
By the time I joined what is now “LatinUs Beauty”, the idea for the company was already defined: To create a mood-based haircare line specifically and unapologetically for Latina women in the US, who, by the way, no one was talking to, and write a novela to build awareness. Bring together the Beauty and Entertainment industries and disrupt them both. Connect mood and hair? Disrupt industries? With people I knew, trusted, respected, and were fun? Along with 3 others who were experts in their fields and respected by those I knew? SIGN. ME. UP!!
My role in the company didn’t start as the CEO. I was initially brought in to define and execute the partner strategy. Find and cultivate relationships with external partners who believed in our vision, who were willing to take a risk on us, and who wanted to grow together. It was a humbling experience to say the least. No big company name on my business card like I had in a previous life. No pick-up from the airport. No red carpet upon my arrival. No refreshments waiting for me in the conference room.
I started our partner journey with a known commodity. I called a former supplier and said something like, “I know you do business with big companies, do you ever work with startups?” After a resounding “YES! We LOVE working with startups!”, I shared more about our adventure, and they agreed to put a team together and meet with us. From there they created something unique for us that would become the key differentiator in our offering, coupled with a partnership model that could only be born out of trust and respect. I will forever be grateful to them for taking a chance on us. More on this in another article.
Our partner strategy continued to progress. Next we found a manufacturer to help us create the product alongside our R&D leader – which was a bit unique as most startups typically use an “off the shelf” formula. Not us. Isa G, our R&D leader, played an intimate role creating what are now amazing formulas with our patented “Impossible Keratin” technology. She pushed the supplier’s development team to create unique formulas with natural ingredients. According to their President, ours are the cleanest formulas, and far superior than anything they’ve encountered.
Then things quickly became a “few degrees of Kevin Bacon!” I called a friend who connected me to a designer, who happened to be a Latina, who happened to run her own focus groups, who happened to write articles in a Latino magazine. Really?? The contract manufacturer connected me to the bottle and label supplier. Did I mention the bottle supplier was a Latino? The label and bottle suppliers connected me to the guy with the shrink tunnel. Everyone knows each other. Everyone is located within a few hours of each other. Everyone believes in us. Everyone wants to be part of the adventure.
It was around this time I was asked to be the CEO and bring LatinUs Beauty to life. We expanded the partner strategy into the celebrity strategy for the novela, that created the Brand Ambassador strategy, and then into our Human Resources strategy. It’s all about, and will continue to be about relationships. As the CEO, I am involved in every aspect of the company across product development, packaging, product supply, marketing, sales, HR, content, and investments. With every decision, we are guided by two things – first, we are ethical and operate with high integrity, always. Second, we are focused on the Latina woman, talking to her with the utmost respect, providing her haircare products and entertainment content she loves and deserves.
So, why did I join LatinUs Beauty as the CEO. I didn’t join the company to be the CEO. I joined LatinUs Beauty because I fell in love with the business idea, with the people, and with the opportunity to have fun, doing what I love, with people I respect, trust, and with whom I like to hang out. If this isn’t the dream job, I don’t know what is. And in the meantime, DON’T WAKE ME UP!