Podcast 91: Nopalera – the brand mission of indie founder Sandra Velasquez

Does an indie beauty founder’s mission matter as much as the products they formulate? This is scary territory for formulators who love creating products and dream of one day launching a beauty brand. But decisive answers to questions like this are fundamental to any beauty entrepreneur’s journey. What will your brand stand for? What do you as a founder bring to the brand story? What is your philosophy and your brand’s purpose?

If you are thinking of your own journey as an indie beauty founder but are floundering and feeling overwhelmed, this episode with Formula Botanica graduate and new business owner Sandra Velasquez is the inspiration you need. Everyone’s backstory is different, however Sandra’s mission in building Nopalera – a bath and body line infused with her Mexican heritage – has universal messages relevant to all would-be beauty entrepreneurs.

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Listen to the @FormulaBotanica podcast with Sandra Velasquez @officialslv whose Mexican-heritage beauty brand @Nopalera.co changed mindsets on the status of Latino products. #nopalera #Mexicanbrand #indiebeauty Click To Tweet

We have hundreds of Formula Botanica graduates with beauty businesses and have seen first hand how important it is build your brand on strong foundations well before you work out your launch products. Creating natural, organic products to help your customers with their skincare and offer more sustainable beauty options may be admirable aims but they are not enough to help you stand out. If you want your brand to make its mark, you need to stand for something that resonates with customers and stand firm on your vision and mission. In other words, think of your purpose before your products.

This is what makes modern indie beauty entrepreneurship so exciting. You have advantages over the mainstream because you can infuse your brand with personal passion. But where do you start to work out these all-important foundations?

Sandra spent a whole year honing her core philosophy and getting her branding to reflect her vision for Nopalera as an upmarket Latino beauty brand. She bucked perceived norms, plugged a gap in the market, stunned and silenced her critics and grew a community around her mission. And all because she had a clear vision of Nopolera not only as a profitable, successful brand, but also as a trailblazer helping Mexican producers be valued and get the credit they deserve.

Sandra launched Nopolera as a high-end Mexican bath and body line in 2020. Inspired by the indigenous Nopal cactus, commonly known as prickly pear, Nopalera, after just one full year of trading, is now in 250 independent retailers across the States including Nordstrom. Sandra has been featured in major media outlets including NBC, Elle, Vogue and Forbes.

In this episode on Sandra Velasquez’s founder story, you will hear:

  • About how pre-launch foundations, however long they take, such as being clear in how you articulate your mission and vision, are critical for the success of a new beauty brand in a crowded market.
  • Why authenticity is paramount. Founder and brand need to be honest and transparent about their origins and avoid appropriating claims – cultural references, about sustainability and so on – that they cannot substantiate.
  • That while it is an advantage to start small and with low budgets as an indie founder, you need to plan from the start about coping with and financing growth and the serious expenses that come with it like investing in back-end IT systems and hiring staff.
  • Why it is crucial to be honest with yourself about what you are trying to build with your business. Formulating and manufacturing take different skills from running a business. Work out what you can do, should do and what you should outsource and why.

Key takeouts include:

  • If you are really taking a stand with your business/brand mission and purpose, expect criticism. Sandra was told time and again that no one would pay high-end prices for a Latino product in the States. But she proved them wrong and helped raise the bar on not just her products but also those of other Latino producers and sectors.
  • Entrepreneurship is scary, but it has the potential to let you step into the life led on your terms, with of course new responsibilities.
  • You may love formulating beauty products, but in business you need to sell products customers need and love. The beauty industry is about serving as much as manufacturing.
  • Formulate to change mindsets and lives and make a difference to the industry beyond stocking retail shelves with yet more SKUs (stock-keeping units). A brand that makes change and difference through a clear, valued mission has long-term sustainability, can foster community and engender real change.

Meet our guest: Sandra Velasquez

Sandra Velasquez founder Nopalera

Sandra Velasquez is the founder of Nopalera, a high-end Mexican bath and body line based in New York City. The brand takes its inspiration from the Nopal (Mexican cactus) for its cultural symbolism, versatility, and resilience. Launched in November 2020, Nopalera can be found in select Nordstorm stores as well as over 250 independent retailers in the USA. The brand has been featured on NBC, Telemundo, Forbes, Vogue, Elle, and more. Sandra Velasquez was named one of Buzzfeed’s Women to Watch in 2021.

Nopalera website
Nopalera on Instagram: @nopalera.co
Sandra Velasquez on Intagram: @officialslv

Thank you for joining us for this episode of the Formula Botanica Green Beauty Conversations podcast. If you enjoyed listening, please share, subscribe and review this episode on iTunes, Spotify or Youtube so that more people can enjoy the show. Don’t forget to follow and connect with us on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.

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Podcast 91: Nopalera – the brand mission of indie founder Sandra Velasquez

Lorraine Dallmeier is a Biologist, Chartered Environmentalist and the CEO of Formula Botanica, the award-winning online organic cosmetic science school. Read more about Lorraine and the Formula Botanica Team.



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