By Faith Cummings
The world has certainly opened up for people with curls over the last decade, with the advent of social media showing those with coils, kinks, and everything in between that they are far from alone. The journey to healthy, poppin’ curls has been a lifelong one for Julissa Prado, who spent her adolescent years saving all her money for hair products, but she never found just the right formula that would give her the curls of her dreams. That quest motivated her to create her own high-performing and hardworking hair care line for people with curls like hers, and thus Rizos Curls was born.
“We are living in a time at the cusp of many changes and I feel both honored to be a part of the change and feel a responsibility to help break down boundaries for others.”
The brand was officially founded in October 2017: completely self-funded by Prado with her dream of bringing a nontoxic, curl-centric hair care brand to market. Her vision was imperative, because so many of the ingredients known to be harmful to our hair overall can also disrupt the curl pattern of curly or textured hair. Rizos Curls products are void of these harmful properties, but you will find a bevy of nourishing and restorative ingredients including beeswax, moringa oil, shea butter and their corresponding Environmental Working Group scores
The Rizos Curls product selection features everything curly-haired people need in their routines including light hold gel to make sure their pattern continues to pop days after washing, refresh and detangle spray for those mid-week moments when hair needs some buoyancy, and hydrating shampoo to get it clean from root to tip.
“My community rallied around Rizos Curls as soon as I launched,” says Prado. “Now that we’re at retailers, the industry is taking notice of the power of authenticity and celebrating curls, community, and culture! So now that I have a voice in the beauty space, it’s my personal mission to help the next generation of Latinx beauty experts, executives, and entrepreneurs to thrive in this industry.”
GET TO KNOW - JULISSA PRADO
What was the impetus to start your brand?
The inspiration to create Rizos Curls was my own personal curl journey to learn how to love my natural curl texture. Because no product on the market gave me the definition I needed for my own curls, I told myself that one day I would create the very best product for curly-haired girls like me. I spent years searching for the perfect formula. I wanted a product made with quality ingredients that could celebrate all curl types, from my tia’s coily strands to my sister’s loose waves. But what was crazy, was that it wasn’t just my own journey and that of my family, but in passing I’d meet so many curly women in the bathroom, in the elevator, in dorm rooms, and they’d tell me “I love your hair.” They’d ask me “How do you get your hair like that?” I’d tell them I have my own concoction. I made so many friends because I’d say “OK, I’ll come over and do your hair.” I’d do their hair, teach them my process, and they’d start wearing their hair naturally. In 2017, after I was able to professionally make my formula I launched Rizos Curls, and all those women became my first customers.
Do you have a beauty philosophy? What is it?
My beauty philosophy really focuses on working on myself from the inside out—from making sure I spend a good amount of time away from work to balance my mental health, to focusing on activities (even work-related ones) that bring me joy, to using natural ingredients for my skin, body and hair. . If something stresses me out, I won’t do it.
Where are you from originally? Where do you live now?
I’m from Los Angeles, California, born and raised, and I still live in LA. My family is from Mexico and I’m proud to be a first-generation Mexican American.
What were some of your first memories of beauty growing up? What are some early beauty influences? (family/relatives, culture, era, location)
Some of my first memories of beauty were the great lengths my family would go to in order to straighten their curls. The first time I got my hair straightened was when I was 10 years old, and I put my head over an ironing board and my cousins ironed my hair with a clothes iron (laughs out loud). I remember receiving so many compliments and feeling so beautiful.
What does self-care look like in your life?
Self-care is baths and candles! Spending time outdoors in nature, but most importantly, spending time with my family. I have such a huge family and there’s nothing I love more than spending a Sunday with all of my cousins just having a great time.
What inspires you most about the beauty landscape and industry today?
I think what is super inspiring to me about the beauty industry currently is that we are living in a time at the cusp of many changes. I feel both honored to be a part of the change and feel a responsibility to help break down boundaries for others. Social media has given a rise to voices and a demand for inclusivity, as more people seek representation. There is also a demand for companies to be ethical, socially responsible, and for them to offer quality products. I’m excited for what the future holds and about whichever way I can be a part of positive change moving forward.
What has been the biggest challenge in starting your business?
The biggest challenge for me when I was starting my business was the incredibly difficult decision for every entrepreneur: knowing when to go full-time. In starting Rizos Curls, I decided to leave my high paying leadership position at Nestle, and take the leap of entrepreneurship without knowing what would lie ahead. It can be an incredibly scary thing for new entrepreneurs. Ultimately, what I had to decide was what the opportunity cost meant to me. What I knew in my heart, was that I needed to invest in my passion, and once I took that leap you would not believe the amount of people who stepped forward to propel me along my journey. I would absolutely do it the same all over again. I wouldn’t be here now without the past decisions and sacrifices I’ve made.
What has been the biggest win thus far?
Seeing Rizos Curls, a self-funded family business, at Target, Ulta, and now, Sally Beauty Mexico. It feels completely surreal.
What would you like to see more of in the beauty industry when it comes to diversity and inclusivity?
I would love to continue to see an authentic representation of today’s Latina in the United States. It’s important for Latinas to have a voice in the beauty space because we’re very often underrepresented. Latinas are one of the biggest consumers of beauty across categories yet we don’t have a seat at the table within conglomerate brands, we’re not authentically included in brand marketing (if we’re even included to begin with), and we don’t have as much access to resources, capital or funding compared to our non-Latina beauty founder counterparts. Yet, my community rallied around Rizos Curls as soon as I launched. Now that we’re at retailers and the industry is taking notice of the power of authenticity and celebrating curls, community, and culture! So now that I have a voice in the beauty spacem it’s my personal mission to help the next generation of Latinx beauty experts, executives, and entrepreneurs to thrive in this industry.