(BPT) - Ada Rojas is not your typical entrepreneur and small-business owner. She’s one of only a few Afro-Latinas to launch a beauty brand with her community in mind as the inspiration. Although representation is a hot button topic for many industries and workplaces, Latina voices and stories often still go unheard. In partnership with Target, Ada’s story is being told via the retailer’s Más Que (“More Than”) campaign, which is a new, year-long celebration that features Latino artists, entrepreneurs and team members’ inspirational stories of success, resilience and cultural contributions. Ada, an Afro-Latina Dominicana (Dominican) from the Bronx, is now on a mission to pave the way for other aspiring Latina entrepreneurs who also “live in the hyphen” and embrace their bicultural experiences.
“I’m proud to be Afro-Latina,” says Ada. “I’m equally proud of my Latinidad but also proud of my Blackness because that’s what people first see when I walk into a room. I feel it’s my duty to use my platform so that my Latinx community can help uplift marginalized voices. With the current fight for social justice, people may forget that the makeup of the Latino community is extremely diverse and inclusive of the African Diaspora. I’m hoping my platform and brand can help my fellow Afro-Latinas to always feel seen and heard.”
As the co-founder of Botánika Beauty, a brand carried by Target nationwide since 2019, Ada and her six siblings were raised by their single mother who reinforced the importance of staying close to their cultural roots. As the first in her family to graduate from college, Ada used her cultural experiences as inspiration to create a beauty blog that launched her notoriety as an influencer who understands the nuances of hair and beauty care for Afro-Latinas.
“I'm not creating a revolutionary product that is going to change the hair game, I just decided to be a little more intentional about the stories that we're telling through products,” says Ada.
Ada’s success story involves taking risks and luckily finding a mentor, a fellow Latina that helped make her dream of starting a natural hair and beauty brand for Latinas a reality. Ada’s entrepreneurial journey began after she left her job as a beauty influencer, with a sizeable YouTube following, to work on a cruise line. It was during this time of unplugging from her life as an online influencer that she formulated a business plan and connected with her mentor, Aisha Ceballos-Crump, founder of Honey Baby Naturals, who guided and partnered up with Ada in the 2019 launch of Botánika Beauty.
“When people think of entrepreneurship, they think of some pretty picture. But what about the lady from apartment 4B who makes cakes for everybody's birthday and that guy selling pastelitos (“pastries”) on the corner? That's an entrepreneur, too. Now that my brand is here, it's my duty to do what Aisha did for me. I want to pay it forward, while also standing up for my community.”
In that spirit, Ada offers her top five tips for other burgeoning entrepreneurs:
- Know the Community You Want to Reach — Start with an Established Mission for the Brand or Product That Will Be Created to Foster the Community Served. “I began my journey as a beauty influencer on YouTube because I didn't feel seen in the beauty space. My mission was to create more representation. I made it a point to build and foster my audience as a true community and they ultimately ended up serving as the inspiration for my brand.”
- Build a Network of Like-Minded Entrepreneurs to Exchange Ideas and Support Each Other’s Business Potential. “For me, networking is key. It’s crucial to put yourself in front of the right people who can help you. But beyond looking for help, I find it’s always more beneficial to be ready to offer something as well. Ask yourself, “What can I offer and how can I be helpful to other entrepreneurs?” This mindset makes it easier to network and you’ll have the potential to help other small-business owners along the way.”
- Build a Team, Delegate and Surround Yourself with Individuals who Share Your Vision and Values for Success. “When I first started my entrepreneurial journey, I did everything. Over the years as my business started to grow, I could no longer do everything. With advice from my mentors, I finally released my need for control and began delegating. I owe so much of my success to my incredible team and the people who I constantly surround myself with.”
- Have a Learning Mindset and Focus on Continuously Improving Your Skills. “Study your industry as much as possible and never be afraid to ask for help. There are always new skills and techniques to learn. No matter how successful you may be, it is crucial to continuously look for ways to improve yourself and your business.”
- Proper Self-Care is Crucial to the Success of Your Business. “You are the most important asset in your business. What good is it to accomplish your goals if you are tired and empty when you get there? Exercise daily, eat nutritious foods, take care of your mental health, find a hobby that will spark your creativity, make sleep a priority, and meditate. All of these things will help maintain energy and productivity.”
Ada’s is just one of many success stories that Target is highlighting on its Más Que (“More Than”) content hub all year round. Visit target.com/masque for more information.