It all started in an enchanted house with a garden full of bamboo and mango. On Sundays, my dad would play the organ and my mother the piano. I would write poems on pillows they would later lather; made soap from the remainders from the bathrooms of a great battalion. The six of us would sleep on chairs, sofas and bunk beds jumping back and forth with joy. My mother, so humble always talked about starting up a business…Intuitively, I knew she would never make her dreams come true, so I always told her “when I grow up I will make them happen.”Here we bring to you the Vonne Promise by one Vonne in heaven and the other on earth.
The Hispanic world
has a lot to offer to the beauty industry
Not only is Hispanic the fastest-growing largest “minority,” but also the highest-spending in beauty. Hispanics also have a rich culture and heritage centered in beauty that has been passed from generation to generation in the past decades and an incredible amount of indigenous extracts still unknown to the Western world.
A NEW MARKET OPPORTUNITY:
INCLUSIVE BEAUTY BRAND FOR THE HISPANIC FEMALE MILLENNIAL, 2011-2017
In 2011, upon doing user and market research I learned that Latinas were craving for more beauty products. Also, formula-wise, toxic ingredients that had already been banned in other countries were still being used in products sold locally (e.g. especially whitening actives, preservative systems, and coloring agents). Also, there were few products offered by industry leaders, mostly multinationals, local copycats, and Chinese cosmetic generics; but no new, innovative, natural, and quality products available to the lower end market. I realized there was a lot of space for new product concepts. So I began taking online cosmetics formulation classes, reading trade publications, reports and investigating local competitors.
After 200+ interviews, I understood that if I was going to commit to the adventure of developing a beauty brand for them, it had to be something special that would touch their hearts and souls, but also attract their fellow Caucasian counterparts. As Latinas, have always emulated Caucasian women and also aspired to be regarded highly in American society. I had to create a brand with an authentic message, but with a wide acceptance and appeal.
It was also perfect timing. At the time, the beauty industry was experiencing double-digit growth in several LATAM countries. Latinas were also driving sales in several beauty categories in the U.S.A. (and are the second largest, fastest-growing, highest-spending minority in the beauty industry). And, in both in the U.S.A. and LATAM, newer generations of Hispanics, were and still are experiencing retro-acculturation, the desire to revive their cultural roots and heritage.
This made me believe strongly in that, just like other races, Latinas also deserved a brand of their own. A brand that would represent them under a new light, where instead of feeling ashamed of being Hispanic, they would feel proud of their heritage, culture, and the bountiful undiscovered indigenous extracts and traditions the LATAM region holds in store for the global beauty industry. To the world, Hispanic should mean more than tacos, tequila, and underpaid illegal labor. They deserve to be represented by a global, trendy, chic, high-quality brand that is inspired by Latino native medicine and backed by a strong heritage of traditional beauty rituals and is accepted by a wide cross-culture audience.
REVIVAL OF LATINO FOLK REMEDIES,
los ungüentos de las Abuelitas
Vonne, with its products, inspires, celebrates and helps maintain alive the Latin Culture, Body, Flavors, Attitude, Traditional Remedies, Language and Balm Heritage: “Ungüentos de las Abuelitas” (The Grandmothers’ Salve) widely used in the popular culture. These elixirs that promise to help you conquer the love of your life, give you immortality, scare away bad spirits, keep you young forever and also cure common maladies like insect bites, colds, headaches, muscle pain; they come in small tins with all types of cures and are traditionally sold in “Boticas” (Local Pharmacies with Alchemists where they are custom made or they sell their magistral formulas.) Vonne’s magic potions Latino names are inspired by small stories Yvonne and her mother shared, songs they used to listen together bible night readings, poems, nicknames, and memories.
+18 cold-pressed indigenous extracts
Cruelty-Free • Paraben-Free • Mineral Oil-Free • Silicone-Free
All Vonne formulas have 100% natural oils, extracts and butters. We do not make water-based formulas like common creams because we believe that to efficiently deliver healthy skin, it needs to be fed well. Water does not aid the skin any benefit in skincare formulas, only its active ingredients and the natural oils do the real job. We use omega-3 rich oils in our formulas that help deliver real moisture that lasts up to 48 hours. Also, these oils help combat skin problems like psoriasis, eczema, wrinkles and even oily skin! Oils also help cleanse oily skin because oil will break down and dissolve the oil that has accumulated dirt on the surface of your skin.
VONNE®, EL LABORATORIO DEL ALQUIMISTA®, DESCUBRE LA MAGIA DE LAS LATAS DE ORO®, PIEL CANELA®, CALIENTE®, NIÑA FRESA®, ROSA MARAVILLOSA®, CORAZÓN DE MELÓN®, CURVAS PELIGROSAS®, RESCATE®, GITANO®, SAGRADO®, REBELDE®, SANTERÍA®, WAWA®
THE WOMAN I WANT TO BE
I am tired of people telling me what I should do, what I should’ve done, who I can see, what is best for me, how I should behave and what I shouldn’t have said. I want to be the woman I want to be. I want to eat how many onions I desire even if I get bad breath, not comb my hair even if I look disheveled, use oversized clothing even if it doesn’t look right, eat chocolate even if i get fat, and cry and scream even if I seem crazy. In the end, everyone only cares about themselves so why do they keep judging me?
Shut up and let me be the woman I want to be, both outside and inside! Especially let me ignore the social norms and prejudices that I hate and prevent me from being myself. I don’t want to be trapped in this machine. I want to be free. I will always be proud of being a sensual and attractive woman. If you don’t like it, I don’t care. I will not hide, lie, pretend or sacrifice my dreams for anyone else. Now, I am first. I will be true to myself, my dreams and goals. From now on, I will be the woman I want to be. – I love Vonne
I began developing, prototyping and testing 7 product concepts that weren’t available in the mass market at the time: Anti-Age Face balm, Shimmer Balm, Lip Plumper, Hair Wax, Solid Perfume, Mom & Baby Balm, All-Purpose Universal Balm.
The biggest challenges I faced:
- Finding a local cosmetic chemist. Local universities do not offer Cosmetic Formulation training.
- Sourcing and importing specialized ingredients that were unavailable locally. I had to import bulk (25kg minimum) and at $56-300/kg.
- Developing non-greasy formulas for hot climates. Consumers prefer lightweight formulas. We had to find a balance in the percentage of waxes to maintain formulas from not melting in the hot climate while maintaining a pleasant skin feel.
- I was testing approximately 20 formulas of 10 different products each week with groups of 10-20 people at a time. The total process took me 16 months and the research stage lead me to new ideas and 40 SKUs.
FROM KIWI SHOE POLISH TO BEAUTY PACKAGING
Inspired by the traditional salves, the balms contained high-quality formulas, that came in portable, easy to carry, vintage-looking, affordable packaging, small and large-sized metal tin cans, to resemble and commemorate traditional pomades used by earlier generations, commonly known as “the grandmothers´salves.” I found a local partner, in my home-country, Honduras, that manufactured this sort of packaging. To save on packaging and keep the tradition of balms in the line, I started brainstorming on non-aqueous cosmetic raw materials I could use to develop high-quality formulas. This packaging also kept product costs low: Metal Tins: $0.05/each vs Plastic Jars: $0.21/each
The local market had never seen cosmetics in a tin other than Nivea Creme®. The concept of a lip balm or any cosmetic in a tin was new to them. So was the concept of a multi-functional product that could be used for both lips and body. They also had never heard of product concepts like the ones I was about to introduce e.g. solid perfume, shimmer balm, lip plumper, lip & cheek tint. They also related the tin to shoe polish and found it hard to open; however, the tins reminded them of their grandmother´s remedies and the nostalgia brought them a smile and that is why I decided to keep the tin packaging. The manufacturers reworked their existing tin mold to take out the butterfly pin on the side and made them easy to open.
Launched 40+ SKU portfolio focused on cosmetics, skin/hair care, fragrance, and OTC products across seven countries in LATAM; negotiated sales with Wal-Mart and TvShopping.
- Built fully functional and compliant laboratory in adherence with international regulatory agencies (i.e., FDA, GMP) and filed legal sanitary permits and registered brands across the US and LATAM markets.
- Formed team of 20+ independent distributors in LATAM and 10 internal employees, including chemists, production staff, in-store promoters, and sales representatives; led morning meetings for goal setting, monitor progress, and inspire team success.
- Developed and manufactured cosmetics and personal care products with a Latin-Chic “masstige” strategy; conducted ethnographic research with 200+ stakeholders, competitive analysis, prototype development, and focus-group testing.
- Conducted due diligence for new growth opportunities, including competitive analysis, ingredient sourcing, and importing of specialized cosmetic ingredients; partnered with external parties on integration of manufacturing and distribution, resulting in a line re-launch with improved innovative concepts, formulas, and brand image and expansion to other Latin American markets including Mexico, Colombia and Costa Rica.
- Partnered with U.S. brands including Petticoat Lane, Cosabella, The Vintage Twin & La Esquina NY.
- DISTRIBUTION To reach sales goals, Vonne was sold in different channels ranging from natural food shops (Pronavit), pharmacies (Farmacia Regis), convenience stores (Gasolineras Uno), supermarkets (La Antorcha, Paiz, Walmart), television (TvShopping), specialized chains (Magie, Beauty Outlet), department stores (Tiendas Siman, Carrion, Xtra, Emporio), and small boutiques in different cities/countries. (Caliente Tv Shopping Ad)
- LIMITED EDITION Vonne developed a limited edition of designs with Latin American artists. We also had in-and-out products with different ingredients and flavors.
- TRADE MARKETING The promotions team had 5 members in different retail locations and beauty shows.
- BRAND AMBASSADORS Vonne recruited 16 Brand Ambassadors in 10 countries to test the markets, trends, and competition in each country by running a test pilot to get feedback from consumers before a full launch. In Honduras, we had distributors in Tegucigalpa, Choluteca, Ocotepeque, Copan, San Pedro Sula, Roatan, and La Ceiba. Vonne was also sold in Spain, Colombia, Puerto Rico, Costa Rica, El Salvador, Guatemala, Mexico, Nicaragua, Honduras, and the U.S.A.
- ADVERTISING Vonne had paid social media campaigns on Facebook. Also, newspaper ads, magazine articles, billboards and appearances on television shows to promote the brand.
- KIOSK: Our kiosk was located at the bus station in San Pedro Sula, Honduras.
Latinas are not a niche segment anymore
The beauty industry is experiencing double-digit growth in many Latin American markets and in the USA Latinas drive sales for many beauty categories.
Latinas are the biggest and fastest growing minority and highest spending market segment for cosmetics with remarkable loyalty to brands and a better response to social media strategies.
Millennials Latinas born between 91-97 are the fastest growing segment in this market with 170 billion in total purchasing power. For every $21 a non-hispanic woman shells out for cosmetics her Latina sister spends $44.
Latinas make up a great percentage of beauty product purchases (especially makeup and fragrance in Department Stores, more than their Caucasian counterparts). Latinas are group shoppers, easy up-sell, beauty is a visible sign of style, self-confidence and having it made in the USA. Latinas have almost 2x as many brands in her makeup bag.
They outpace Caucasians in use of moisturizers and cleansers. Specialized categories such as anti-age/eye have the highest usage amongst Hispanics.