Giovanna Campagna, the 33-year old founder of clean beauty brand, Joaquina Botánica, didn’t always plan on entering the world of skin care. Originally an editor at Vogue and W Magazine, she had her sights set on fashion long before the idea of a line that would bring Colombian beauty practices to the forefront of the industry took hold. “The more time I spent in Colombia [visiting family in my spare time], the more I realized there was a great amount of talented fashion designers coming out of the region,” she tells TZR.
As a result, and in partnership with her cousin, the two were inspired to create CREO Consulting, an agency that was dedicated to discovering and introducing the top Latin fashion talent to the international market. The firm launched designers like Johanna Ortiz, Hunting Season, Mercedes Salazar, and more. “Our goal was to prove that Latin fashion had just as much to offer to the world as the United States and Europe,” says Campagna. “On a personal level, I started to turn to a clean beauty lifestyle [during this time] and realized that exactly what we were doing in fashion [giving a platform for Latinx artists] was missing in beauty.”
To share the Latin perspective on beauty with a wider audience, Campagna launched her skin care line Joaquina Botánica, in January 2021 — named after her great-great grandmother, who founded one of the first apothecaries in Cali, Colombia in 1875. “In beauty there has always been European and American brands dominating,” the entrepreneur shares. “I had this aha moment: Latin America is one of the most biodiverse regions in the world, with the most endless amount of incredible natural resources to pull from — that’s what we should be doing.”
Currently, the brand offers a tightly edited collection of two nourishing products: Orquídea + Vitamin C Hydrating Glow Oil and Calendula + Peptides Hydrating Essence. The clean formulas are powered by clinically proven actives (proudly banning over 2,700 ingredients from its products) along with botanicals (like bakuchiol, camu camu, maracuja, and more) indigenous to Latin America.
Since the idea first took hold in 2018 to the launch earlier this year, the brand’s mission has remained simple: to celebrate Latin America’s deep-rooted beauty culture and incredible natural ingredients through skin care products. “In the past, there has been some conversation about Brazilian perspective in beauty but no one to speak about Colombia, Peru, Ecuador, Mexico, or other countries who put natural ingredients first,” Campagna says.
To formulate, Campagna started with an ingredient-first perspective, researching suppliers and talking with chemists from the region to understand what they were excited about. “I did a lot of research with women ranging from makeup artists and hair stylists I had worked with on set [as an editor], my cousins, aunts, and even my aunt who was 104 at the time,” says the founder. “I really wanted to pull from home tried-and-true practices that women have passed down and the researchers, chemists, and suppliers who are building up the industry on cosmetic ingredient cultivation.”
The brand’s first (and hero) product, the Hydrating Glow Oil, is a mixture of 12 different botanical oils and extracts, coupled with an oil soluble form of vitamin C and orchid extract that targets aging on two levels: by inhibiting cell oxidation (the excess of free radicals in the body) and by improving fine lines, skin tone, and texture.
“I wanted to work with ingredients that have a special place in our culture,” Campagna says. “And orchid, considered beloved, symbols of beauty, and a collectors item, are the natural flower of Colombia.” In addition, the products are formulated with a blend of papaya, passion fruit, kiwis, and other super fruits that are ultra nourishing and help to reduce over-production of oil — making it great for acne-prone skin.
When you pick up one of the two products, you’ll also notice the ingredients are either familiar or easy to read, often labeled just as ‘plum,’ ‘rosewater,’ ‘kiwi,’ or ‘calendula’ — there’s a reason for that. “We don’t want to put fear into our ingredients or point fingers,” Campagna tells TZR. “We don’t want to blacklist things but share our ingredients that are in there. We just think it’s nice when you can read through the whole ingredient list and know exactly what each item is.”
As for the challenges that come with starting a skin care brand, Campagna references the lack of knowledge or limited references the majority of consumers have about Colombian culture. “Consumers have a limited view of what Latin beauty is,” says Campagna. “I took a poll of people before we launched, to get a sense of response for Latin beauty. I would ask them, ‘What do you think of when you think of Latin beauty?’ Some responses didn’t think of luxury or high quality at all. They’d say: ‘We think about big hair, makeup, etc.’ Very few of them knew the side of beauty that I understood — a natural approach to beauty (maintaining skin, hair, and nails in order for them to look their best). So I knew it would be a hurdle to establish a Latin luxury brand that compares to the big names.”
But with the help of leading retailers like Shen Beauty and Nordstrom, Campagna believes people have begun to grasp that Latin and luxury can be in the same sentence. “There’s still some type of education to grasp on what Latin America has to offer. But I think this is a good start.”
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