Passion and the belief that Latinas deserve to thrive are at the core of the newly launched beauty brand Erenzia — everything from the bold and vibrant branding to the thoughtful ingredients and the double-ended mission behind it. With an overly saturated beauty market, it's becoming more and more difficult for brands to stand out. But speaking with cofounders Alina Gonzalez and Vanessa Ramos, it's easy to understand why they launched a holistic beauty brand with a purpose that has a business model unlike any other.
"When I chose to do this, it wasn't just about creating products to sell," Gonzalez says. "I felt that as someone who understands the realities of being in this country [and] not knowing the language, coming here and having to have multiple hustles, because, at the end of it, we all have to put food on the table. By virtue of sharing products that are essentially inspired by our communities, this is giving her something extra."
For context, Erenzia is not your average Latina-founded beauty brand, and don't expect to find it in megaretailers (at least not for a while). Yes, these hair products and fragrance oils were created for Latinas, inspired by their heritage, but also with the means to support and give them the tools to become their own jefas.
The way it works is you can either shop the products directly from the website, or you can shop them from your amiga, prima, tía — you name it. "Our model is an enhanced affiliate amiga model," Ramos says.
Unlike other similar structures, this model is a way in which mujeres in need of a side hustle or extra cash can build on a business of their own and have a community of amigas to rely on. And while this system may remind you of the Mary Kays and Avons of the world where you might invite friends or family over for cafe y botanitas while sharing about the products in efforts to get some sales, you should know that this innovative method is far more modern and advanced and requires the download of the Erenzia app.
"The cost of entry into the business with most competitors is quite high, and there's a requirement that you need to buy a certain number of products to have at your disposal. Our technology allows her to use her same social media channels like she already would and be able to actually share the products like she would on social media. And so essentially, it's very intuitive," Gonzalez says. "So she purchases or she sells and gives a code on the spot, and that goes directly to her client, so there's no financial burden — nothing to carry or deal with that is administrative that would have her spend the time that can be a burden. This is literally like she was shopping for herself."
With Latinas' obsession with beauty products and trends often being overlooked, the Cuban and Puerto Rican entrepreneurs knew it was time to do something about it. "Seeing this gap and seeing the amount of money and time that Latinas spend on the beauty industry and always feeling like the industry always looks as us like, 'OK, they're just gonna come for the ride because it is what it is,' we had a pretty similar sentiment [to the Black Lives Matter movement] as to what was happening in terms of people not necessarily paying attention to us, not necessarily giving us the things we would prefer to have," Gonzalez says.
Carrying nearly 17 years of branding and product development experience under her belt while working at beauty giant L'Oréal, Gonzalez reached a point in her career where she could move forward and continue to do what she knew best, or she could take a bold step into the unknown. "At the end of the day, there was no real feeling of, what am I giving back? What am I doing? What's my purpose? What's my mission? I wasn't doing anything that was necessarily providing any support or giving back to anyone, and I just felt like I either do something completely different or I continue to stay in this trajectory," she says.
Before being approached by her now business partner, Ramos, whose 30-plus years of experience falls under social selling, had similar sentiments. "I was hired for many companies because I'm a Latina and the Latino market is such a huge market opportunity," she says. "There was no real authenticity and understanding about what this market really needs. What is the price point, resources, or tools that they need? For me, this is an opportunity where I'll not only create a product for her [the Latina woman] but also be inspired by her and her culture."
For Ramos, Erenzia is about creating economic opportunities for Latinas. She says it was a dream come true for her to take all the knowledge she's gathered from her 30-plus-year career and use it to create a brand that's creating access for Latinas to also be able to work their own businesses. Ramos also notes this is an attractive model because sellers can do it on their own schedule and in their free time. "So during her coffee break or whenever, she can be sharing about the products and talking about them, and [customers] click and purchase, and she's getting 25 percent commission. We made it very user-friendly for her and that so that she can do it within how she lives her lifestyle — whether she already works or she doesn't," she shares.
"Our technology allows her to use her same social media channels like she already would and be able to actually share the products as she would on social media," Gonzalez adds. "And so essentially, it's very intuitive. She purchases or sells and gives a code on the spot, and that goes directly to her client, and there's no financial burden — nothing to carry or deal with that is administrative that would have her spend the time that can be a burden. This is literally like she was shopping for herself."
Currently, the Erenzia range includes a collection of shampoos, conditioners, oil milks, oil crème leave-in treatments, and perfume oils separated into the Hydrate and Nourish categories. The fragrance oils are labeled as Sensual, made up of warm and spicy notes, and are the scent of the Nourish collection. On the contrary, Captivating is a bright, fruity floral that is the fragrance of the Hydrate collection.
While the Hydrate assortment is for a wide range of hair types, the Nourish concentrates more on waves, curls, and coils. "The level of hydration is really the key difference, because if your hair is hydrated, it's stronger, more resilient, it doesn't break, you minimize frizz, it's shinier, etc.," Gonzalez says. The ingredients were thoughtfully curated from both a performing standpoint and a meaningful one.
"I said, what are some of those ingredients that no matter where you go in Latin America, you can find, that can also translate to interesting ingredient stories that can support the performance of the product? Some of those ingredients are rice, cacao, casaba, and they're all ingredients that no matter where you go in Latin America, you can actually find," she says. "Those ingredients are very powerful not only for hair care but also skin care, and there are even some components of fragrance that actually have those ingredients. We have those gestures and ingredients in our culture. Why not bring it forth in a way that is proud and about celebrating those roots and our culture? And bringing into the world that magnificence of those regimens and moments that were passed on from your mother, grandmother, and so on."
And because Erenzia is rooted in the power of sharing, that's similar to how the business model works, too. Anyone interested in becoming a seller can simply sign up through the website or download the Erenzia app, which provides all the tools for them to have a part- or full-time business.
"This opportunity is not an income-replacement opportunity. It's really a supplemented opportunity to add something to their family economics. It's extremely relevant for this community."
"This opportunity is not an income-replacement opportunity. It's really a supplemented opportunity to add something to their family economics. It's extremely relevant for this community," Ramos says.
"We don't want to go into retail, because we don't want to fund those establishments, we want to fund her. The difference between us is that margin or commission the retailer would receive, we're giving it to her, right to our amiga and right to our community."
As for why they choose to not go into the retail business, Alina explains: "We don't want to go into retail, because we don't want to fund those establishments, we want to fund her. The difference between us is that margin or commission the retailer would receive, we're giving it to her, right to our amiga and right to our community. Right now, our priority and mission is to provide that financial opportunity to her firsthand, and that's the difference between us and going to a big-box retailer."
Lastly, Gonzalez asserts that even though Erenzia is made and inspired by Latinas, it doesn't mean others can't make use of its products. "The strength that we have in this country on all fronts is phenomenal, and sometimes we forget that. It doesn't matter if you're from Mexico, or Colombia, or Venezuela. At the end of the day, the things that make us similar is that warmth," she says. "We bring people into our world, we're not pushing them aside. We have things that are special, we have things that I am proud of, and we're not just here to consume but to also share those things with everyone else outside of our community as well."