Hispanic Chamber CEO: Latina beauty and lifestyle mavericks make waves in Philadelphia

Jennifer I. Rodríguez is the President and CEO of the Greater Philadelphia Hispanic Chamber of Commerce. 

In the ever-evolving landscape of the business world, Latinas are emerging as a powerful force, challenging stereotypes, breaking glass ceilings, and leaving an indelible mark on the economy. Their resilience, determination, and innovative spirit are propelling them to the forefront of many industries, showcasing their immense potential as leaders and entrepreneurs.

A shifting paradigm

Latinas are driving a paradigm shift in the beauty and lifestyle industries. As both consumers and entrepreneurs, they are reshaping the landscape by advocating for greater inclusivity, cultural pride, and self-expression. Established brands like Bettina Cosmetics, in Puerto Rico, are expanding to the mainland embracing diverse consumers, while emerging brands, such as, Ocoa, and Yowie—are examples of unapologetic self-expression and cultural pride. They remind us that beauty and lifestyle are not just about appearance but also about cultural heritage, identity, and empowerment.

Bettina Cosmetics: Success from tradition

At the forefront of this movement is Bettina Cosmetics, the top selling brand of nail polish in Puerto Rico. Started as a nail polish importer over 50 years ago, the company is now led by Bettina Mercado, who has expanded it to the US market, gaining widespread acclaim for its expansive range of products designed to cater to various skin tones and types. From vibrant eyeshadows to an array of foundation shades, the brand has made it a mission to ensure that beauty knows no bounds. Latinas and individuals of all backgrounds now have access to products that not only enhance their natural beauty but also celebrate their uniqueness.


Ocoa Hair: Embracing Natural Beauty

The natural hair movement has gained momentum worldwide, and Latinas are no exception. Many are proudly embracing their natural hair textures. Ocoa, a Latina-owned brand founded in Pennsylvania by sisters Cory and Nicol Varona, is at the forefront of this movement. The brand honors curly-haired Latina women, helping clients find confidence in their natural beauty by using luxe, clean, minimal ingredients. 


Yowie: A Modern Cultural Celebration

Founded by visionary Shannon Maldonado, Yowie is a lifestyle company that includes a hotel, café, and retail gallery that focuses on curating small collections from independent artists and designers. Named the “coolest shop in Philadelphia” by Bon Appetit, and featured in Dwell and Architectural Digest, the brand has expanded into hospitality consulting and product design.


In the dynamic world of the beauty and lifestyle industries, Latinas are not just consumers; they are also making significant strides as entrepreneurs, driving innovation, and setting trends. The future is undoubtedly brighter, thanks to the contributions of Latinas who are setting new standards for a more inclusive, culturally rich, and authentic world.

You can meet the entrepreneurs behind Bettina Cosmetics, Ocoa, and Yowie at the State of Hispanic Business Forum, an event of the Greater Philadelphia Hispanic Chamber of Commerce.

The State of Hispanic Business Forum: Latinas in Business will take place on Wednesday, Nov. 1, from 8:30 to 11 a.m. at the WHYY Studios. Registration is open to the public at philahispanicchamber.org.

Jennifer Rodriguez, MCP, is President and CEO of the Greater Philadelphia Hispanic Chamber of Commerce.