Beauty Roots

How This Founder's Latinx Heritage Inspired Her To Launch Skin Care

“There’s this pride in taking care of yourself.”

Meet Giovanna Campagna of Joaquina Botanica, a Latinx-founded skin care brand.

In Beauty Roots, Bustle chats with diverse creators in the beauty industry about how their heritage has influenced their businesses and routines. Here, Giovanna Campagna talks about the skin care rituals she picked up from her Colombian relatives and the country’s native ingredients she features in her beauty brand, Joaquina Botánica.

When Giovanna Campagna worked in fashion, she ran an agency that discovered and launched Latin American talent into the international market — something she, a half-Colombian, found as an exciting way to connect back to her roots. Then, in 2019, she realized this sort of brand spotlight should be happening in the beauty industry, too. She credits this epiphany as the catalyst for her skin care line, Joaquina Botánica, which officially launched in January 2021 and has quickly reached cult status.

Latin America has this incredibly deep beauty culture that had not really been tapped into or seen fully in the U.S.,” says Campagna, who grew up regularly traveling between New York City and Colombia. “It’s also the most diverse region in the world, and is home to a wide variety of ingredients that are super potent in skin care, like papaya and avocado, along with superfoods from the Amazon that have been used for thousands of years in indigenous communities.”

To share the verdant botanicals and native rituals of her heritage with a new consumer, Campagna developed skin care formulas that would — in theory — deliver the glow she notices whenever she visits her home country. “I often think about how my skin looks its best when I’m somewhere like Colombia — somewhere really tropical and warm,” she says. “The humid air just cushions your skin, you’re nourished by the sun and fresh fruits, and it just all gives your skin this glow. I wanted to make products that recreate that.”

To Campagna, Latinx beauty is about more than featuring the region’s lush natural ingredients — it’s also a way for her to bridge the two worlds she grew up in. “Throughout my life, I’ve always loved sharing what I keep discovering [in Colombia] with the world here,” she tells Bustle. “I’m very excited about bringing this new perspective in.”

Below, Campagna tells Bustle about the Colombian approach to beauty and how Joaquina Botánica’s products deliver a just-got-back-from-the-beach radiance.

“For me, my skin always looks the best when I'm in a warm, tropical climate, like Colombia. So I am always trying to create formulas that will give you glowy, radiant skin wherever you are.”

How do people in Colombia approach beauty?

One thing that’s really central is consistency. It’s a daily or weekly ritual for women to do their skin care routine, get their nails and hair done — there’s this pride in taking care of yourself, which adds up to aging gracefully and looking your best. Girls start at a very young age doing face masks at home, and they’ll get their nails done with their mom at like 8-years-old. On the other end, it’s the same way: My great aunt passed when she was 104, and every day she would do her hair, her skin care routine, put on lipstick to go to the grocery store. There’s this approach that no matter how young or how old you are, you should always enjoy your beauty and be proud of everything you have.

Would you say there’s a mental health tie-in there?

Yes, definitely. On the one side, it’s like how we think of beauty as self-care. It’s something that makes you feel rejuvenated and rested, even through the process of pampering. Then on the other hand I love this phrase in Spanish that loosely translates to: “There are no ugly women, only unusual beauty.” I like to think of that as meaning everyone is uniquely beautiful, and beauty rituals can make your traits shine even more.

What’s your earliest beauty memory?

My grandmother would wear these cotton gloves every night to sleep. Basically, she would lather on a really thick cream, then slip the gloves on because she wanted to keep her hands looking youthful and soft. Even that little ritual was exactly that idea of pampering yourself — it’s so cozy and comforting to do that nightly.

How else has your heritage influenced the products you create?

The brand is named after my great-great-grandmother who opened one of the first apothecaries in Cali, Colombia in 1875. Her husband was a doctor and would make all of the remedies, but he passed away when he was very young, so she took over the business. I was really inspired by her story in terms of women's entrepreneurship.

“Our Joaquina Botánica Glow Oil & Essence make up the core of my skin care routine. Besides those, I love artisanal objects from natural materials like this woven box for storing cotton and other essentials on my vanity.”

What are some of your favorite Latin American beauty ingredients?

One ingredient I’m super excited about is cacay oil. Ours is wildcrafted in Colombia by an amazing supplier who is reforesting parts of the Amazon and creating employment for at-risk communities. It has one of the highest naturally occurring levels of vitamin A, which is a natural retinol, and it has 50% more vitamin E than argan oil. On top of that, it has a host of omegas and has been known to heal the skin and improve scarring.

Camu camu is a superfruit from the Amazon that’s in both of our products. It’s one of two or three [fruits with the] highest levels of vitamin C of any natural ingredient, and it’s been used for thousands of years by indigenous communities all over the Amazon and various countries. Passionfruit oil balances because it actually has been proven to help reduce the skin’s production of sebum. Another one worth mentioning is in our essence we have peptides derived from sacha inchi, which is a superfruit that was actually used as a currency with the Spanish at one point bc it’s so valuable for its medicinal healing and skin-smoothing properties.

What are you most excited to bring to the skin care industry?

I hadn’t seen a prestige skin care brand speaking to what everything Latin America has to offer, so I really felt pulled to create it. I think it’s really exciting to have brands showcasing what different parts of the world uniquely have to offer, and Latin America is particularly rich in tradition and ingredients.

Studies referenced:

De Azevedo, W. (2020). Physicochemical characterization, fatty acid profile, antioxidant activity and antibacterial potential of cacay oil, coconut oil and cacay butter. PLoS One. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7188257/

Maruki-Uchida, H. (2018). Effect of Passion Fruit Seed Extract Rich in Piceatannol on the Skin of Women: A Randomized, Placebo-Controlled, Double-Blind Trial. J Nutr Sci Vitaminol. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/29491276/