Joaquina Botánica is the type of brand that doesn't come along often- beautiful packaging, incredible ingredients blended perfectly together, and a founder (Giovanna) who is as chic as she is kind. The Joaquina Botánica brand currently features two products (a facial oil and mist) with ingredients from Giovanna's home country of Columbia. The line is meant to enhance a person's everyday life and cull through the noise. To put it simply, they may quite possibly be the most perfect facial oil and mist to exist.
Jess says, "Gio is not only a force, bringing Colombian fashion brands to the US market but now with her skincare line, Joaquina Botánica she is bringing all the delicious ingredients to the US market. Simple and sustainable yet effective is exactly how I would describe it". If we don't say so ourselves, this is reason enough to try this brand.
We asked Giovanna to tell us more about how Joaquina Botánica came to be, as well as what makes her brand unique, in this weeks Behind the Brand. Keep reading to learn the story of Joaquina Botánica, plus what Giovanna has in store for the future.
What was the first product you developed and why did you create it?
Our brand launched with a single hero product – the Orquídea + Vitamin C Hydrating Glow Oil. When I think about when my skin looks and feels its best, it’s always when I am somewhere tropical, like Cartagena or Cali, Colombia. The second you step off the plane in those climates, your skin feels instantly cushioned by the humidity. You get this innate glow from eating fresh foods, taking just the right amount of sun, and your skin looks so dewy that you don’t even want to wear much makeup. That’s the effect that I wanted our products to recreate – hence, the “glow” in Glow Oil.
I decided on an oil, because I’ve approached our product development from an ingredient-first standpoint. Over three years ago, I began researching ingredients that are native to Latin America and prized in the regions’ beauty, wellness, and cultural practices. The unusual, powerful botanicals I discovered – like superfruits Cacay, Sacha Inchi, Maracuya, etc. - are primarily the most pure and potent in oil form. Our face oil is ultimately the most highly-concentrated delivery of these amazing ingredients. The formula is then supercharged with antiaging benefits from Orchid and Bakuchiol, a natural retinol alternative.
In a saturated market, I think our face oil stands because we truly use high levels of our most nutritious ingredients, zero empty fillers, and no essential oils, which can cause some irritation in sensitive skin types.
What was the inspiration for the line?
My Colombian roots! I am half Colombian from my mother’s side, and although I grew up in New York, I have always been deeply connected to the country. I came to beauty after nearly 10 years of working in fashion. I started out in magazines, and in 2014, I launched a consulting practice dedicated to discovering Latin American fashion brands and establishing them in the global luxury market.
Through this experience, I realized there was also a true lack of brands speaking to Latin America in the realm of beauty. You see French, Italian, Indian, Korean, Australian brands… but very few from Latin America, except Brazil.
I knew that Latin American is the most biodiverse region in the world, making it an endless resource for natural ingredients. And from firsthand experience, I can say that arguably no one knows – or cares – more about beauty than the Latin women I’ve been surrounded by throughout my life. They unapologetically take pride in maintaining their skin, hair, and nails, and truly find joy in it. I think that spirit is what makes them seem youthful at every age.
I set out to research ingredients and find the best chemists in clean beauty to partner with. I wanted to create a brand that would share Latin America’s incredible natural ingredients and deep-rooted beauty philosophies with the world.
What is the brand philosophy?
We believe that beauty is as simple as well looked-after, radiant skin that you want to show off at every age. We believe skincare should be a pleasure, not a chore, and want to infuse your rituals with our warm, vibrant, luxurious products.
While we are a truly “clean” brand, we are not about fueling fear of ingredients. Rather than focusing on what is not in our formulas, we want to celebrate the beautiful, efficacious ingredients that are in them and to share wonders they do for your skin.
What is your best selling product and why do you think that is?
So far, our first! The Orquídea + Vitamin C Hydrating Glow Oil. People are loving it because it has the perfect midweight texture; it is deeply hydrating, but light enough that it is never greasy. This also allows you to wear it throughout the day, giving your skin the perfect glow. I love to use it as a primer under my makeup and SPF as it makes the application super smooth and adds luminosity. As a treatment, it is truly holistic, delivering antiaging and brightening benefits. It also smells delicious – sweet, nutty, and buttery - without having any added fragrance or essential oils.
What's your favorite product in the line and why is that?
It’s impossible to pick favorites, but I have been recently obsessed with our new Hydrating Essence. Inspired by Colombian beauty rituals using floral infusions, it is powered by Rose Water and Calendula, plus clinical humectants, Hyaluronic Acid, Glycerin, and plant Saccharides. For added smoothing, firming, and antiaging benefits, it includes Peptides from an ancestral Amazonian superfruit, Sacha Inchi, that are clinically proven to do all of the above.
I apply it after cleansing to get water-based hydration into my routine, and then follow with our Hydrating Glow Oil, which seals in moisture for longer. I designed the Essence to dispense as a mist to make it multifunctional – it can either be this key step in your routine, or a refresher on the go. I was inspired by Colombian makeup artists who always carry a spray bottle of floral waters on set to refresh skin between takes. A few sprays of the Essence over makeup really gives you an instantly dewy glow.
What makes the brand unique?
I am proud to say that we are the first luxury clean skincare brand to speak to Latin American ingredients and beauty philosophies, and to prove that Latin-rooted beauty is as luxurious and efficacious as it gets.
What's one surprising thing people might not know about the brand?
The brand is named after my great-great grandmother who opened one of the first modern apothecaries in Cali, Colombia in 1875. After a career in fashion, I’ve ironically come full circle into the family business of personal care!
What do you want people to think of when they think of your brand?
Healthy, happy, glowy skin, and lush, efficacious formulas that transport you to the warmth of South America.
I think that you feel this just by looking at our products. I chose a bold papaya hue as our brand color, because it always reminds me of exotic fruits, sunsets, and the colorful architecture of the Old City of Cartagena. It is a color that just radiates warmth and optimism – what I hope each Joaquina product brings our customers!
How did you know you'd made it as a brand?
One of the highlights so far has of course been arriving at SHEN! To be included in such an impeccable curation of brands means that our brand is resonating with the industry experts who know best.
Another pinch-me moment was being named one of the “Best Face Oils to Use Now” in The New York Times’ T Magazine. After more than 2 years perfecting our Hydrating Glow Oil, I was so moved to see our very first product get such a recognition, alongside some of the world’s leading brands.
What is your proudest moment as a founder?
I feel the most proud when customers reach out to tell me how much their skin has improved since using our products. Some have shared that our formulas have helped heal concerns like persistent dryness, fine lines, and rosacea. Others have told me that they keep getting compliments on how great their skin looks when wearing our Hydrating Glow Oil (it really does give you a perfect glow!). This makes me so happy, as ultimately our customers opinions and experiences are what matter most.
What made you want to be in the beauty industry?
The moment the idea for our brand occurred to me, I felt completely pulled to do it and never looked back. It was so clear to me that nothing like it existed yet, and I just had to bring it to life.
What I love about being a beauty founder is that my role gives me the chance to wear so many different hats. There is chemistry, operations, manufacturing, creative, storytelling, design – I get to use so many different skills each week. I think I am both a right and left brained person; I studied Art History, worked at Vogue, and also have an MBA. So I love switching gears between analyzing our finances one day, and designing our Instagram feed or creating a moodboard for our photography the next.
What has been your biggest struggle as a founder?
Launching in the midst of a global pandemic – and 6 months into new motherhood! I was pregnant while developing our formulas, and gave birth to my daughter in May, 2020 (in a mask, in a New York City hospital at the peak of COVID). Beyond the production delays and the usual pressure of “juggling” business and motherhood, I really missed human interaction when we launched in January, 2021.
I had visions of launching with an immersive event that would introduce our brand while sharing the best of Colombian culture (think salsa music, exotic drinks, and tropical florals). I so wanted to be able to see people experience, touch, and feel our products in person for the first time. Of course, this had to be put on hold, and our launch was purely digital. But I am still determined to throw a big Joaquina salsa party soon – hopefully with our next launch this Winter!
What can we expect from the brand in the future? Any exciting news you can share?
We have so many exciting things coming up, particularly in the realm of new product development. We will continue releasing new formulas every 6 months or so. Our approach has been to formulate relatively slowly as we want every product to be a “Hero.” Plus, I am still constantly researching and discovering new ingredients from Latin America, so there will be plenty of novelty to come!