While facing fertility issues and undergoing IVF (in vitro fertilization) treatments in 2019, Chilean-American Ann Dunning was told to stay away from beauty and hygiene products with fragrances. The list of items to avoid included things as essential as deodorant.
Stunned by these restrictions, Dunning quickly learned that chemicals like phthalates and parabens found in numerous self-care products can pose a threat to fertility. While looking for alternatives, another concern surfaced: a lack of clean beauty brands intended for Latinas that are affordable and accessible.
A year and a pandemic later, Dunning not only welcomed a baby girl through a natural pregnancy, but she also brought something else into the world: Vamigas, a Latina-owned vegan and cruelty free beauty line.
Co-founded in 2021 by Dunning, 43, a startup marketer living in Temecula, and third-generation Mexican-American beauty entrepreneur, Christina Kelmon, 41, Vamigas was launched mid-pandemic to “bring healthier beauty to Latinas,” Dunning said in a recent Zoom interview.
The two met at Silicon Valley while working at Pipeline Angels, a network of women and fund investors that primarily addresses startups owned by women of color, and bonded over their common interest in the absence of healthier beauty products made by Latinas. Both were first-time moms when they launched Vamigas.
In addition to being motivated by Dunning’s personal experience, she and Kelmon decided to create a line of skincare products sans the harmful chemicals, such as phthalates, that have been with infertility, obesity, asthma, allergies, breast cancer and other serious health problems .
A recent study among pregnant women published last month found that Latinas had “substantially higher levels of parabens, phthalates and bisphenols,” in comparison to white, black and other groups of women.
Knowing this, Dunning and Kelmon looked at the facts, their values, experiences and origins to create a line of eight clean beauty products ranging from a cleanser to a body oil made with ingredients from Latin America.
The other “essentials” that form part of the line are a cleanser, face oil, face mist, body oil, hair oil and more. These products are “great for aging skin” but can be used by anyone, according to Kelmon, who also has another beauty brand called Belle en Argent.
For starters, rosa mosqueta, or the line’s “hero ingredient” as Dunning calls it, is derived from the Andes Mountains in her native country of Chile and has healing properties intended to fade dark spots, reduce the appearance of wrinkles, fine lines and stretch marks. Other ingredients include yerba mate, chia seed, prickly pear, passion fruit oil and papaya leaf.
“…We would love for you to replace the harsh cleansers and moisturizers that you currently have. That’s kind of the main goal,” Kelmon said. “We just want to create a healthier option for you, for your daily essentials, and then have these incredible benefits.”
Starting with a rosa mosqueta-infused lip oil priced at $16, the most expensive item made by Vamigas is the Luz de Sur Face Oil with maqui, chia, prickly pear and acai priced at $34. Kits with multiple items are also available, the most expensive one being $90.
In just one year since the launch of these products, the self-funded Vamigas brand was able to generate half a million dollars in revenue and has earned a spot on the beauty shelves of Nordstrom in Fashion Valley, JCPenney, Anthropologie, Thrive Market, IPSY , and online at vamigas.com.
While Vamigas is hoping to launch more products sometime down the line, Whole Foods Market announced recently that the brand will be a part of the first cohort of participants in the company’s Local and Emerging Accelerator Program (LEAP) meant to “provide mentorship, education and the potential for financial support to promote business growth.”
For more on Vamigas, visit www.vamigas.com.