Thanks to the Great Recession, 2008 was an epic year for lawyers specializing in economic fallout. As a BigLaw bankruptcy associate, Regina Merson was soon consumed by bank failure filings, requiring her to log double-digit hours every day, seven days a week, often for months at a stretch.
Mornings became Merson’s only consistent downtime, and she devoted those quiet moments to her makeup routine. The careful application of cosmetics allowed her to refocus and recharge for the day ahead, but it also gave her the chance to indulge in her always-expanding collection of color-filled compacts, jars and tubes.
Merson’s obsession with makeup began when she was a child in Guadalajara, Mexico. She loved watching her mother’s daily beauty routine and the dramatically painted faces of the telenovela actresses. Over time—from her family’s move to Texas when she was in elementary school, to her undergraduate years at Yale University, and then to law school at the University of Chicago and the launch of her professional career—Merson’s makeup passion only intensified.
But Merson wasn’t the only Latina invested in the beauty industry. The Latin American market represents nearly 20% of the U.S. beauty industry’s revenue and spends more per year on personal care products like cosmetics than the general population, according to statistics from research firm NielsenIQ.
Merson didn’t know these numbers at the time, but she did know that she didn’t feel represented—or respected—by the brands she was buying. That realization eventually led the Dallas lawyer to launch her own cosmetics company called Reina Rebelde—Rebel Queen—in 2013, to celebrate the depth, diversity and beauty of the Latina culture and community.