Black is Bella: Conversation with the Afro Latinas Redefining Beauty

We had the pleasure of sharing in a new dialogue surrounding Blackness and beauty, with a special edition of Instagram’s ‘zine made in collaboration with journalist Johanna Ferreira to close out Women’s History Month. Instagram hosted an amazing zoom conversation as well on Clubhouse to discuss Afro-Latinas who are creating change in the beauty industry. 

With their stand to continuously amplify these voices while celebrating all of the amazing female entrepreneurs that exist on the platform we were blown away by each women who shared their story. “Afro-Latinxs are just as much a part of the African diaspora, but America’s misconceptions of race and ethnicity also often excluded them from dialogues surrounding Blackness and beauty. These beauty brand founders and influencers are working to change that.”

This panel was a continuation of Instagram’s latest series to make space and uplift creator voices to speak to important topics of diversity, intersectionality, and entrepreneurship while they share their experiences that are not usually represented in mainstream media.

The speakers included Ada Rojas CEO of Lulu Cordero founder of Mabel Frias and Shaira Frias founders of Luna Magic and hosted by journalist & socio-cultural editor Johanna Ferreira (@cup_of_johanna) to explore how these women and more built inclusive beauty communities that celebrate their Afro Latina culture.

The conversation sparked serious awareness to the importance of educating ourselves on our own history and not having to explain ourselves to anyone. In a world where we are all trying to figure out who we are, our only job is to answer to ourselves. People might not accept you but facts don’t lie as Mabel from Luna Magic said. Representation matters, and its hard to believe just a few years ago when youtube and Facebook were just at their beginning stages and influencers only represented just a handful of beauty ideals more than ever we’ve seen how diverse beauty around the world is. All voices are needed, and all beauty matters. In a generation where we are decolonizing centuries of beauty ideas built on the wrong side of beliefs we love conversations that break down barriers, and make us question our own definition of beauty.

Here are some powerful words from the speakers and conversation:

Ada Rojas 

“Growing up, I felt alone in my experience, I couldn’t find many people online that looked like me. When I started going online more and looking at campaigns, I would think ‘where is my representation,’ and that’s what gave me the inspiration to start my blog online and eventually become an entrepreneur.” – Ada

“Carolina realized that there were very few people discussing natural hair for Dominican women, and there was no one online discussing this movement. Carolina began to blog online in both English and Spanish, because of the lack of resources. This eventually became the catalyst to open her salons.” – Ada on behalf of Carolina

“It wasn’t until later in my life when I started college classes and began educating myself, when I realized that I was Black and this erasure was a part of an anti-Black Dominican culture. Although these conversations weren’t happening when I was younger, this is a huge part of my work and my entrepreneurship. I’m constantly trying to educate my followers and the younger generations in my life such as my nieces and nephews.” – Ada

Mabel Frias 

“I worked in a corporate setting for the first 12 years of my career, and I was often the only Afro-Latinx person in the room. I did a lot of educating to my colleagues in those 12 years, and I also began learning about internal data of consumer marketing. I realized there was a disconnect from the people we were featuring in our campaigns and what was actually available to those consumers – there were no products for the people we were featuring in campaigns. ” – Mabel

“In tandem with my personal experience in corporate environments, I was also looking up to women like Ada, and in a way we were growing together and starting our businesses based on our culture, passion and what we cared about.” – Mabel

Lulu Cordero

“Bomba Curls was started because of the lack of representation. I never saw women that looked like my mother, grandmother, or even the women on this panel. I didn’t see various hair textures or skin tones represented, and that is what I wanted to do with my brand. I wanted to fight the stigma associated with Black hair, beauty and skin.” – Lulu

Shaira Frias 

“I’d say that growing up without these preconceived notions, led to a positive experience about our self-acceptance – we never had to think about our skin color. I didn’t even understand the conversations about mine or my sister’s skin tone when we got to the US – or why people would speak to our skin, hair or beauty.” – Shaira

Make sure to follow journalist & socio-cultural editor Johanna Ferreira (@cup_of_johanna) who is always bringing these topics to the forefront.

Screenshot from the Zoom conversation with the press discussing this very important topic and how the media should address these concerns and issues moving forward

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