Did you know that a Biz2Credit study revealed the average yearly revenue of Latino-owned businesses in the U.S. increased from $258,702 in 2016-2017 to $327,189 in 2017-2018? And that more than 4.7 Hispanic-owned businesses — when combined — contribute to more than $700 billion to the U.S. economy annually? It only seems fitting then that for National Hispanic Heritage Month, we feature a Latinx beauty founder and her company, which are both making an impressive mark on the industry.
Marisa Quintanilla, Founder of Wildland Organics, says that passion is at the heart of all Latinx people and it’s been a great catalyst for her success. “People would describe me as passionate — all in with everything I do,” she says. “I’d say the passion that Latinos have, you feel it in everything they do: the food is passionate, the music, the dance. That’s how it influences me. It’s a really deep sense of passion that comes through everything — it’s almost a sense of electricity.”
This vibrancy has played an integral role in Quintanilla’s commitment to the power of living light and luxuriously, the basis of her organic hair and body wellness brand (High Vibe, Low Maintenance). Designed as eco-conscious, multi-use, and travel-friendly, Wildland is also a result Quintanilla’s fate. While living in what she describes as a “cushy and comfortable” bungalow in Santa Monica, Calif., Quintanilla and her husband were obsessed with tiny house shows. They thought it would be a great way to live and a step in the right direction for everything they wanted to do for the environment. “We looked into it, but never decided to pull the trigger — then the universe decided to pull the trigger for us,” she says. “I had a photography business I was running out of the garage. Someone reported us and we got evicted. I went on Westside Rentals, and the first thing that popped up was ‘tiny house in the trees — Topanga, Calif.’ It was all our dreams in one little package.”
The couple already had an idea for personal care inspired by the elegant simplicity of nature, so once they moved into the tiny house, they spent two years planting the seeds for Wildland and living the life they needed to live to understand what they needed to make. “That was a really beautiful time. There were a lot fewer green beauty options [two or three years ago] especially on the higher end, so we thought that was something we needed to try to do,” she explains. “We needed some high-performing, beautiful green beauty products that could also be travel-friendly because we wanted to hit the road.” They ended up spending some time living on the road in a converted van, and that’s where their values were solidified. “We wanted our products to be absolutely earth-friendly, good for the planet, good for humanity, our bodies, our nourishment, and about living light.”
Research was key
“It started with me trying out a lot of things I was unhappy with and then digging into ingredients. I was taking the whole DYI route. You’re trying little recipes here and there, altering them, and figuring things out,” she explains. “I wasn’t positive I was going to make this my life’s work. It was kind of this cool hobby I liked, but in experimenting, it became an obsession. I thought, I could this better. This could be better.”
But no one is an island. Quintanilla knew she had to ask for help, and she wasn’t afraid to. “When I realized, here’s my background, here’s what the computer can teach me, and I don’t have time to go to chemistry school, I was at a point where I wanted a little bit more than what I was able to do. I reached out to a few organic beauty labs, interviewed people about working and collaborating with us to create more high-performing products.”
Because at the time, Quintanilla’s knowledge level wasn’t going to take her where she needed to go, she knew she needed some expert opinions and knowledge. “We found some amazing people to work with, and we created some amazing products that checked all of the boxes we couldn’t find elsewhere. From there, it’s been a consistent knowledge growth for me — continuing to learn and continuing to collaborate with people who have so many more years of experience than I do.”
Life lessons and opportunities
For Quintanilla, life lessons have taught her that when you work with a team, your ideas compound and products can be refined so much faster. “They can be up-leveled quicker when you have multiple brains with experience working together. That’s been really exciting to me,” she says. “I’ve always been a collaborator. My background is in theater. I love working with people — that’s a really fun part of it. I don’t have be stuck in a lab by myself with all my ideas. I can bounce them off others and make things even better than I could have imagined. It helps problem-solve, too.”
Quintanilla also works with The F Project, an organization committed to supporting female founders and the companies they are building for social, health, and environmental good. “The most valuable part was connecting with other entrepreneurs and female founders, especially those who weren’t located so close to me,” she says. “The project put me together with women from other parts of the country. We were able to cross-pollinate and support one another that way. It was really exciting to be introduced to products that I wouldn’t be introduced to and find people that your brand can work and feed off of.”
When it comes to offering advice for the women following in her footsteps, Quintanilla brings it back to her Latinx state of mind. “As Nike says, ‘Just do it.’ If you have a passion and a love for something, if you don’t make the decision you better hope you’re lucky enough to have the universe make it for you. Then when the universe does make a decision for you, you have to notice it. There are two ways I could have reacted when I got that eviction notice: one way was I could have freaked out, fought it, and moved into another space that was similar. Or, I could do what I did. I was angry for about five minutes. Then I thought, how else can I look at this?” she concludes. “Because I ended up spending literally half the rent I was paying before, I had more free time to spend on my hobby that turned into my career. Think about taking action and getting in the flow with the universe. When you get that moment where it may look like a tragedy, a horrible obstacle, or something you were not expecting, if you can stop, pause, breathe, and ask yourself, could this be an opportunity? It just might be the one that changes your life.”
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