Nopalera Founder in The New York Times Sunday Routine!

Posted by Sandra Velasquez on

In the summer of 2019 I had a lightening bolt moment to create a high-end beauty brand that overtly celebrated my Mexican heritage and challenged the euro-centric mentality in this country that normalizes higher price tags for brands with French and Italian names and devalues those that are not. 

The only thing was, I had no money to start a business. In fact, I was in between jobs at the time, had thousands in student loan debt, personal credit card debt, and a child to raise. Oh, and I was 43 years old. Shouldn't I have it figured out by now?

Lack of access to capital, resources, and a network of people with them is often the first barrier many in our community face when we have big ideas. We often do not have role models or mentors to show us how. 

The beauty industry (like many others) can feel very insular. A quick scroll through the 

LinkedIn profiles of other successful beauty founders shows many were former executives at big beauty companies like 

Estée Lauder and 

L'Oréal. Do you have to be an insider to succeed? I am living proof that the answer is no. 

I was at a turning point in my life. I knew that creating financial stability for me and my child was not going to come from getting yet another job that didn't pay enough. 

I felt a responsibility to create this brand, which I knew would be centered around the Nopal -- the most Mexican plant ever. I was going to find a way to build this no matter what. It was do or die. 

I started side hustles. I got other jobs. I enrolled in formulation school (using my American Express card). I learned how to make products and I started to write out the vision for the brand you know today as Nopalera. I spent over a year building this brand in the quiet. Nights, weekends, no applause, and no guarantee of success. Because that is what it takes. 

Being bold, transparent, and authentic about this journey is what has attracted the community we have today. I share #realtalk and resources to other founders via my entrepreneurial newsletter from my personal website. I always wanted a mentor and never found one. So instead I became one. 

A rising tide lifts all boats. 

To have a full story feature in The New York Times, Sunday Routine is a great milestone for me, Nopalera, and our community. We are showing the world what is possible. This is for us. 

Photo: Hiram Duran for the New York Times.




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