Besame Cosmetics is a rare company in today’s modern age. With colors, and textures, and packaging that call out to “Old Hollywood” style, you won’t find products as luxurious as these.
We rcently had the chance to talk to the company’s founder, Gabriela Hernandez, who happens to hold the distinction of being the first Latina woman to helm a major cosmetic company.
Painted Ladies: As the first Latina to head a major cosmetics line, you are a groundbreaker. What encouraged you to start Besame in the first place?
Gabriela: I worked for many companies before starting my own because it was there that I gained all the knowledge necessary to do so. I was able to learn from other’s mistakes and set out a strategy that I knew could be successful. It also gave me the time to plan things well, since I still was able to make a living from my employer. I started my own company because I am a driven individual and as an entrepreneur I felt I could do things better, or differently than competitors. My goal was to be independent because I enjoy working for myself, even though it is sometimes harder than working for someone else. I wanted to bring back the glamour that I saw in the way my grandmother used cosmetics and the beautiful items she left me to inspire my designs.
The influence for the design comes from original lines in the 30s and 40s like Richard Hudnut, DuBarry, Harriet Hubbard Ayer, Hazel Bishop and other pioneers in the field of color cosmetics in the U.S. There are also many European influences in the designs, some Russian motifs and Art Deco touches. Femininity and allure were major considerations for the esthetic of the line.
Painted Ladies: Following up with that question, when you were deciding to make a cosmetics line, what encouraged you to develop products that recall that amazing “Old Hollywood” style?
Gabriela: I think women are looking back at the icons that defined femininity and wanting to re-capture that look. I think we have come full circle from the brights of the 80s and the nudes of the 90s to a classic look that never goes out of style. We also have a lot in common with those women, since the economic times, wars and overall instability greatly resembles the period of the great world wars. During these times we look for a simpler life, a simpler routine and a look that is in control.
Painted Ladies: I love (and my readers will love) that your products are paraben-free. How long was the process between coming up with the idea and then developing products that stood up to a high quailty standard?
Gabriela: My work is collaborative because my staff knows that I work as hard as they do and that I would never ask them to do anything I would not do. There is a mutual respect there, which I think is crucial to getting things done.
The process takes from 6 months to 1 year to develop a new item for the line. This all depends on how quickly we arrive at a formula we truly love and can develop original packaging for the product.
Painted Ladies: Do you have any advice for my readers who might be trying to start their own cosmetics line?
Gabriela: Make sure your concept is original, research thoroughly the market you plan to enter, and make sure you have enough capital to make it all happen.
Do your homework- Get as much information as you can about the industry and market you want to enter before you invest any capital.
Be prepared to work hard- Getting anything off the ground requires serious time and effort. If you cannot commit to this don’t start.
Know when to quit- work hard, but don’t be so focused it blinds you, make sure you are enjoying your life along the way. It is a journey, not a destination, so stop to smell the flowers.
Painted Ladies: Finally, some of my readers like the idea of red lipstick, but are a bit afraid of them. Do you have any product suggestion for those who are wanting to start out with red shades?
Gabriela: Red lips are still a sign of sexuality and glamour for women. Red is classic, and if worn well, is sophisticated, powerful and always in style. Powerful women have always worn some form of red on their lips. Just by wearing it, you feel powerful, more confident, and since it is a “look at me” color, more popular. For the office, a mild red is one that is not bright and goes toward a chocolate shade. Brick, or brownish reds are great with a nice suit for daytime. Orange reds are beautiful with print dresses for fun daytime looks. Deep blood reds are best with evening wear and special occasions with a beautiful up-do and simple jewelry. You can also tone down reds by mixing them with lip balm to get a light stain. Wearing reds as sheers is a good way to keep the look more natural and easy to wear.