When Jackie Hernandez emigrated from Mexico, her first goal was simply to adjust to life in the US. She found jobs—as a waitress and busgirl—and, at her sister’s insistence, she began taking cosmetology classes. Hernandez had been interested in makeup since she was young, and these classes offered her a home away from home.
Eventually, Hernandez started uploading tutorials on YouTube, hoping to share the knowledge she gained in class. As her follower count grew (she currently has over 2 million on YouTube), Hernandez became an inspiration to Latinas everywhere. She speaks both Spanish and English throughout her videos, offering an inclusive and welcoming space for viewers wanting to learn about cosmetics.
With the self-funded launch of her makeup line, J’dez, Hernandez became the first Latina YouTuber to launch her own cosmetics line. Throughout her journey, the most important thing Hernandez did was believe in herself, and she hopes that with her videos and brand, she can empower other women to do the same.
Tell us about your journey into the cosmetics industry.
My journey into the cosmetic industry was born from the passion I have for makeup and from years of uploading makeup tutorials on YouTube; however the decision of creating my own makeup company was also the answer to a question I asked myself years ago: “What are you going to do after YouTube?” I knew YouTube wasn’t going to last forever so I needed to find a long-term challenge that I would enjoy in order to continue my growth.
What was the impetus for building your social platforms and what was the tipping point to becoming an influencer?
[To] this day, I believe that I became a social media influencer by accident or from a hobby. When I started uploading makeup tutorials on YouTube, I never thought of becoming a “social media influencer.” I don’t think that was even a thing back then. I uploaded makeup videos for fun and to educate others and slowly started noticing people commenting, liking, and sharing my videos. Eventually, I started growing not only on YouTube but Facebook and Instagram as well.
Did you have a strategy for building your community and creating the content?
At first I didn’t have a strategy since I was doing all this just for fun and as a hobby, but once I learned that I was able to earn money off something I was already doing and loved, I made the decision to make it my full-time job, and there is when I knew that I needed a strategy to keep bringing new viewers and followers to my social media outlets. And the strategy was plain and simple: just be consistent with the videos and post frequently.
Your YouTube beauty channel has over two million subscribers. What was your marketing strategy when you began, and how has it evolved since?
When I started YouTube, there was no strategy. All I was doing was showing my viewers how to apply makeup and talking about beauty-related things. It was that simple. That worked very well for many years, and I believe that the “how to” beauty videos plus my personality helped me a lot in growing to have a YouTube family of over 2 million. Now, it’s very different. YouTube has changed a lot! And sometimes I feel like the changes in algorithms have hurt many channels like mine that started years ago. Plus, now I believe, YouTube is more of an entertainment platform, not so much a place to learn how to do things like how it was back then. I also believe that influencers like me need to grow along with the changes in the platforms where we share our content even if it’s difficult and sometimes we don’t understand them. It’s a process of learning and innovating yourself without becoming something totally different from what you started with just for the views.
You speak both English and Spanish in your videos. Why is that? How does this impact your audience and brand?
I think it’s very important in any profession to speak more than one language. I only speak two, but I feel that there are way more opportunities for me in the long run. Now with my brand in the game, it is necessary for me to be able to reach both audiences. It is where opportunity lives.
When did you know it was the right time to launch a beauty brand? What was the development process?
I think there is never a right moment. It was just a matter of making the decision and going for it. I had to start by saving up money for 3 years to be able to launch only 2 products. I could’ve waited to have more money to launch with maybe 4 or 5 products, but like I said, you just have to go for it! There will always be plenty of excuses to not go for it, which is why I say there is never a right moment. You just have to be prepared as much as you can with a strong support system. Limit risk as much as you can by being prepared for it. For me, I decided I was going to do it no matter how hard or how long it could take. Developing my first 2 products was fun, but also time consuming since I had to find the right manufacturer who I could trust and create what I had in mind. Not to mention deciding colors, names, and packaging. It’s all a long process.
Why did you decide to self-fund the launch?
I decided to self-fund this company because I didn’t want to wait until someone believed in me. Nobody believes in me as much as I believe in me! It is hard to get investors to believe in a social media influencer. As if that wasn’t challenging enough, being a woman of color, I knew it was going to be even more difficult to receive funding. We’ve all seen the statistics on investment towards Latinas so I didn’t want to waste time, so we decided to start this journey alone knowing that I had to work hard to grow my company slowly. Plus, I wanted to learn every small detail about running a small business hoping that once my brand is more established and more known, investors would come to me without me looking for them. Who knows, maybe in the future someone wants to invest in J’dez, and if it’s the right fit then why not!
As an influencer, you’re in constant conversation with your audience. How do you use that to your beauty brand’s advantage? How do you stay flexible enough to meet the needs of your consumer?
I like to always keep my followers/viewers in the loop. I like to hear what they like or don’t like, and from there, I try to incorporate their ideas into mine. It is hard to please everybody, but I believe that as long as you do things with passion, love, and hard work, the rest will fall into place. To me, it is very important to listen and pay attention to my clients because if there is anything that I can improve in my next products, I will for sure!
How does the strategy to market your products differ from your strategy building your profile as an influencer?
It is not that much different. It’s all about listening and paying attention. That’s the beauty of social media. You have a direct form of communication and can build millions of relationships. You have to keep in constant communication with your audience either to create better content that they will enjoy or to deliver products that they want.
What challenges did you face when launching your brand as a female Latina entrepreneur? What about your YouTube channel?
I think for me, it was coming up with the money to launch only 2 products. I consider J’dez a small brand still, and I feel like there will be plenty of more challenges in the way. Sometimes just because you are Latina, people tend to not believe in you or our market. Not to mention that the political climate doesn’t help either.
Let’s talk about diversity in the beauty industry. As a Latina woman, what do you think needs changing, and how can your brand help facilitate that change?
I believe that makeup should be an inclusive art. Everyone should feel like they can be part of this makeup/beauty world, and I think we’re on the right path. Makeup is fun and there should always be an option for everyone! My makeup company strives to create amazing Latina-inspired products for all women. And to think about diversity in another way, for women in Latin America, we specifically want them to have diversity in product quality.
Why was it important to have completely cruelty-free products?
I think nowadays it is very important for makeup brands to be cruelty-free, and I’m glad that more brands choose this option. There is no need to make animals suffer to create beauty products or any other products for that matter. I love animals way too much. In fact, 3 beautiful doggies are a part of my family!
Do you plan to expand to brick-and-mortar?
We do plan on being in retail with the right partners, however it is not in our plans to open our own stores any time soon. But, maybe you’ll see some pop-up stores soon!
What do you see for the future of J’dez Beauty?
I may be a little biased, but I imagine big things for J’dez! I know that everything takes time and only God knows the future for this now small brand, but I also believe that hard work pays off and my team and I are working very hard to make a beauty monster out of J’dez!
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