Joaquina Botanica Founder Giovanna Campagna on How Colombian Beauty Rituals Inspired the Clean BrandSeptember 30, 2021
A native New Yorker with Colombian roots, Giovanna Campagna grew up between two separate worlds. After seeing the lack of Latin American representation in the international market, she set out on a mission to meld her two worlds together. The result: Joaquina Botanica, a clean skincare brand powdered by botanicals indigenous to Colombia. Ahead, the new mom shares how she created a skincare brand that brings Colombian beauty rituals and naturally abundant Amazonian ingredients to the forefront of the beauty industry.
What led you to create a clean skincare brand?
I grew up in New York but have always been deeply connected to my mother’s Colombian roots and my extended family there. When I began working in fashion at Vogue and W Magazine, I began to notice the lack of representation of Latin American designers in the mainstream market. At this time, Colombia was in the midst of a cultural renaissance and was becoming more safe and stable after years of tumultuousness. Fashion brands were popping up all over the country and I would find talented designers each time I visited.
Latin fashion was as covetable as American and European fashion, but it hadn't gotten any visibility. This ultimately led me to launch an agency to help propel the best of Latin American fashion talent into the international market. I loved having the opportunity to celebrate Latin American culture with the world and felt drawn to do the same in beauty.
Where do you draw inspiration from?
My great, great grandmother — who the brand is named after— had an apothecary in Colombia that she ran on her own while simultaneously raising her children. As a working mom and entrepreneur, I often look to her for inspiration.
In Latin America, there is a deep-rooted self-care culture that emphasizes finding joy within oneself. Women in Colombia in particular, often take up DIY beauty rituals that include the natural ingredients available in the Amazon. I wanted to bring this abundance of wellness knowledge plus powerful botanicals together in a brand.
How did you come up with the concepts for your products?
I approached the brand from an ingredient-first perspective. I wanted to look at compelling and potent natural ingredients from the region, especially those that have a special place in the culture. I curated those and worked backward, trying to figure out what products we could make out of these ingredients. The Orquídea + Vitamin C Hydrating Glow Oil was the first product. It’s a beautiful blend of 12 botanicals plus bakuchiol, vitamin C and orchid extract —
which is not only used by Colombian women for anti-aging, but it’s also a symbol of beauty in Colombia. We did extensive research and spoke to Colombian women to find out how they used these ingredients in their DIY beauty rituals.
Another priority for us is that we build up the beauty industry in Colombia in a sustainable way. For example, we cultivate cacay seed oil, which grows on CO2-producing trees in the Amazon. We’re able to reforest large plots of the Amazon while also creating employment for communities marginalized during the drug war in Colombia. I hope that by including it in our products, we’re able to bring more attention to and create more demand for cacay seeds.
How was the pivot from fashion to beauty? Did you experience any hardships?
I had to realize that good things take a lot of time. We have two products because we only release them when we believe that they’re perfect. With fashion, you have to churn out pieces multiple times a year, but with beauty, you want your product to be a classic. While there’s definitely a pressure for newness in beauty right now, we would rather focus on creating classics and working slowly towards perfection.
What’s your advice for someone looking to break into the beauty industry?
Even if you don’t have experience in beauty before, like me, you have to find partners you trust and know that the buck stops with you. There will always be complications, delays and challenges, but you need to take ownership over everything, every step of the way.
What advice — beauty or non-beauty — would you give your younger self?
For beauty, I would say never go in a tanning bed ever. I admit I did that as a teenager. Now, however, I wear SPF every day, even indoors. Non-beauty, though, I would say to stress less. Especially in my 20s, I stressed about the future. I wish I focused more on myself and my improvement rather than comparing myself to others. Focus more on what you want, what you’re looking for and how something makes you feel rather than concerning yourself with what other people think and expect of you.
Photo Credit: Anita Calero, Design: Hannah Packer