Too often, the best beauty stories go unrelated, based solely on a person’s skin color, religion, gender expression, disability, or socioeconomic status. Here, we turn the mic over to some of the most ambitious and talented voices in the industry, so they can share, in their own words, the remarkable story of their birth – and how they use the music. beauty to change the world for the better. Next: Julissa Prado, founder and CEO of Rizos earrings.
Since I was little I have always been drawn to hair. This is something that came to me very naturally. Something that’s very Latino is just wanting to look like you’re flying. We grew up in very low-key neighborhoods, but that didn’t stop us from looking good on the first day of school, looking good for all of our quinceaneras, baptisms and all that different. events. Every weekend there was an event we were preparing for, and we had to find creative ways to be our best with limited resources. I had a cousin who did good makeup, she was a makeup artist; another who was good at eyebrows, she would make everyone’s eyebrows; I was the girl with the hair.
But back then, I hated my own hair. When I was younger my hair was even more curly than it is today, and that was why everyone laughed at me. I went to great lengths to hide how close it was. It would take me three hours to straighten it and I would wake up at five in the morning if needed to do it before school.
In ninth grade, I was very lucky to go to progressive high school. We took a racial theory program, and there I learned about internalized oppression and institutionalized racism. I learned all of these things that promote European standards of beauty and how so many people of color internalize all of these things. And I just remember feeling called so called – damn it, it’s me. Then I went through a phase where I was just angry – angry with traditional beauty. And I was like, “I wanna wear my culture on my sleeve. I want everyone to know I’m different. Fuck conformism, fuck assimilation – I’m going to kiss every part of me that has something to do with it. my culture. “
I learned all of these things that promote European standards of beauty and how so many people of color internalize all of these things. And I just remember feeling called so called – damn it, it’s me.
When I first started trying to wear my natural hair it was a long journey. I went through so much trial and error. If there was a product for curly hair, I tried it; if there was a styling method i tried it. I remember spending so much of my money and time trying to figure it out. That’s when I started making my own concoctions and finding natural alternatives for styling my hair. At that point my hair was very damaged because I had been straightening it for so long – I had damaged the texture to the point that it was not really curly anymore – and getting my curls back made me feel more secure. confidence. .
All of a sudden people became less interested in what other hairstyle options I could offer – everyone was just interested in their natural hair. I realized there were so many undercover curls, as I call them, that are women who never knew they had curly hair. Whether it was in high school in the bathroom or when I was in college in the dorms, I taught girls how to style their hair naturally.
I never had a cosmetology bachelor’s degree, however – I never took that route. It wasn’t even an option I thought of. I just felt like I had to go to college and all my thoughts were consumed with how I could get a full scholarship because my parents couldn’t afford it.
When I decided to start making my formulas professionally, it was more out of necessity for me. I was like, “It’s so embarrassing that I have to refrigerate these concoctions, they spoil so quickly, I have to pack them in Ziploc bags – it’s so boring.” I remember researching manufacturers, trying to learn as much as I can about chemistry and manufacturing and all that. Then I went there. I thought the worst is the worst, I will have a lifetime supply of products that will work great for me, my big family and my friends.
At the time, I was working full time at Nestlé – I didn’t think I was going to be able to quit my job, I saw it as a secondary passion project. But then I quit my corporate job to pursue Rizos Curls full time in 2017, a few months after its launch. Everyone I have helped over the years has become my first clients. It was really lovely to see what I had been doing as a side hobby for so long coming full circle.
There is a misconception that curly hair is so tough and tough – it’s not tough, it’s just different. There is a learning curve, but once you get through it you will be so happy.
The brand has already exceeded all the expectations I had for it. He just grew up in a way I never imagined. It made me realize that a business is really a solution to a problem, and when you really have a solution, nothing can stop you from accomplishing it, be it a budget, competitors, whatever.
We just launched into Ulta Beauty this year and I’m super, super happy with it. Ulta is a brand that I personally love as a customer and buy, so having Rizos Curls is such an honor. I was like, “Am I the first Latino curly hair care brand to launch here? I’m definitely riding a mariachi, with my cousin’s pallet cart.” The store we did it at was in South Gate, LA which isn’t too far from Inglewood and where most of my family is from. It was cool to be able to do that in my backyard, where I grew up.
To this day, I am so honored to be able to help people with their curls. For us, everyone on our team has gone through the process of not knowing what to do and feeling defeated. And then, once you learn your model and how your hair reacts, it becomes so easy. Everything is uphill after that. There is a misconception that curly hair is so tough and tough – it’s not tough, it’s just different. There is a learning curve, but once you get through it you will be so happy.
Image Source: Courtesy Julissa Prado