Vive Cosmetics Is Championing Latinx Representation in Beauty

Vive cosmetics model

Vive cosmetics

Joanna Rosario-Rocha and Leslie Valdivia have always been proud of their Hispanic heritage. Rosario-Rocha is Mexican-Puerto Rican, and Valdivia is Mexican. However, they never felt represented, especially in the beauty industry. Despite accounting for nearly 20% of the U.S. beauty industry's revenue, Rosario-Rocha and Valdivia noticed major cosmetic brands either ignored their community completely or tokenized Latinas. "We've always been so embedded in our community," Rosario-Rocha says. "But we couldn't help but feel something was missing." 

Rosario-Rocha and Valdivia's frustration with the industry's shortcomings inspired them to join forces in 2016 and launch Vive Cosmetics. The culture-conscious beauty brand celebrates diversity and spearheads representation for the Latinx community. Ahead, learn more about Vive Cosmetics. 

The Inspiration

Vive cosmetics founders

Vive cosmetics

Rosario-Rocha and Valdivia didn't have prior experience in the beauty industry, but they shared a passion for makeup. Rosario-Rocha worked in the tax industry and created beauty content on YouTube in her free time. Meanwhile, Valdivia worked at public relations agencies. Her experiences as a PR professional provided insight into how many brands' BIPOC-targeted marketing efforts fell short.

"At my agency, I was often the only Latina on the team trying to create campaigns for BIPOC communities," Valdivia shares. "It made me wonder how many other mostly white PR agencies were trying to reach Latinas and women of color."

In 2016, Rosario-Rocha and Valdivia attended a BlogHer conference in Los Angeles that kicked off their entrepreneurial journey. "While we were there, we went to a pitch competition for women creating brands to solve problems in their community, and were both very inspired," Rosario-Rocha recalls. "I turned to Leslie and said, 'We need to do something.'"

The Launch 

Before launching their company, the duo conducted market research to see if other Latina women shared their sentiments about the beauty industry. They tapped Valdivia's network to gauge their interest in potential products and understand where they felt misrepresented. 

"We realized that people didn't feel seen and wanted products they could connect to culturally," Valdivia says. Through community resources, the founders were able to acquire a $10,000 loan to start Vive Cosmetics. "Most of that funding went into creating our liquid lipstick and building our website," Valdivia adds. "We also wanted to define our brand and what it would stand for."

The duo placed culture at the forefront of Vive Cosmetics, giving their lipsticks Spanish-inspired names and using colorful branding. "We wanted our products to create feelings of nostalgia," Rosario-Rocha shares.

In the beginning, the two found it difficult to find manufacturers to work with because of their lack of industry contacts. "The industry has been monopolized by larger conglomerates for so many years," Valdivia shares. "For someone just starting a direct-to-consumer company, it's challenging to break in."

However, the founders pushed ahead and began to build their connections with experts, eventually bringing mentors, product developers, and consultants into the mix. Vive Cosmetics has also prioritized equity since the beginning by hiring Black and Latinx employees. It uses its profits to invest back into the community and create products that resonate with consumers.  

The Products

Vive cosmetics lipsticks

Vive cosmetics

Vive Cosmetics' Que Matte Liquid Lipstick ($20) is the brand's bestseller, with shades like Spanglish and Morenita selling out. The brand describes the lipsticks as "beso-proof" and "taco-proof," as the formula is designed to provide a long-lasting matte finish. "Our customers wanted a longer-wear product that they could just put on and go," Rosario-Rocha says. "This was the first product we launched, and we haven't changed the formula since."

Since launching, Rosario-Rocha and Valdivia say customer feedback has been overwhelmingly positive. "We get so many comments from people like, 'Oh my God, I've never actually felt like a lipstick fit me,'" Rosario-Rocha says. "We are very intentional and inclusive in picking shade ranges because we want everyone to feel beautiful." 

While the brand's debut products have become fan favorites, Vive Cosmetics has also focused on rolling out new items. Earlier this year, the brand debuted its Dulce de Guava lip care line (which includes a lip scrub and mask). "We wanted to incorporate ingredients native to Latin America, and guava has amazing benefits for the skin," says Valdivia. On September 23, Vive Cosmetics will launch its first non-lip care product, a brow pencil. In true Vive Cosmetics fashion, it'll feature culturally significant ingredients like avocado oil (sourced from ethical manufacturers in Mexico).  

The Future 

Over six years, Rosario-Rocha and Valdivia have created a beautiful movement with Vive Cosmetics. They've cultivated a digital community of over 46K individuals who share a common desire to celebrate Latinx culture through beauty year-round. 

Their goal for the future? "We would love for Vive to be a global brand," Rosario-Rocha says. "[We want] our products to be available at Ulta or Target— anywhere that's more convenient for our customers since Latinas are all over the U.S."

The founders also hope to pave the way for other BIPOC-owned beauty brands. "It's not just about recent diversity efforts," Valdivia shares. "We need to build sustainable companies, invest in multicultural brands, and ask ourselves, 'What will the landscape look like in 10 years?'"

Related Stories