Momaprenista and Former Touring Musician, Sandra Velasquez, on Founding Nopalera
Please share a brief introduction about yourself and your business:
Sandra Velasquez is the founder of Nopalera, a mother, and a former touring musician. Prior to launching Nopalera, Velasquez worked as a sales & distribution manager for several CPG brands across multiple categories. In addition to running her company, she works as a mentor to emerging CPG brands and teaches online classes about sales strategy. Nopalera is Mexican Botanicals for Bath & Body that celebrates and elevates Latinx culture. Nopalera is leading the Brownspace Opportunity with its iconic culture-forward branding that speaks to the overlooked Latinx clean beauty consumer. The brand takes its inspiration from the nopal — an ancient symbol of Mexico — for its resilience, versatility, and cultural symbolism. Their current line of cactus soaps, scrubs, and moisturizers was formulated to meet the standards of the cleanest beauty retailers and can be found in Nordstrom, Credo Beauty, Free People, and over 300 boutiques nationwide.
What excites you about being an Entreprenista League member?
Access to incredible entrepreneurs.
What made you take the leap to start your own business?
Tired of being underpaid and working for others + noticed an opportunity in my category and knew I was the person to fill it.
What was your background prior to starting your own business?
Professional musician turned CPG Sales and Distribution manager.
Did you always know you wanted to be an entrepreneur?
Not at all. I thought I was meant to perform on stage.
Take us back to when you first launched your business, what was your marketing strategy to get the word out and did it go as planned?
I invested in branding from day zero. I enrolled in formulation school to learn how to make my own products. I took a Facebook ads class to learn how to run ads. I ran targeted ads for four months to collect email addresses pre-launch so when I launched it was to my customer. I launched an iconic brand with great photography and It worked perfectly and snowballed from there.
What is the biggest challenge you have encountered along the way and what did you learn from it?
Not being a beauty insider or having access to capital. I had to get creative. I learned formulation and made my own products. I know how to read ingredient labels well.
What is the accomplishment you are the proudest of to date?
Launching a brand in the middle of the pandemic with no savings or funding at the age of 44 and getting into Nordstrom in year one.
Do you believe in work/life balance? What are some of your best tips?
I believe in priorities. I don’t believe in balance or sacrifice. I believe in deciding what is most important and doing that.
What’s a piece of advice you can share that you wish you’d known when you first started your Entreprenista journey?
Beauty retailers take a 60 margin. Lower your cogs and raise your prices accordingly.
What have you achieved recently that you’d like to celebrate with our community?
I was selected as one of three finalists for the Valde Latinx pitch grant.
What’s next for your business? What can we expect to see over the next few years?
Fundraising. I am going to raise 1MM by the fall. You can expect to see me partner with one of the big beauty retailers in the next two years.