Disney’s highly anticipated animated film Encanto premieres ahead of Thanksgiving with a story hailed for its messages of familial love, the discovery of belonging, and the power of self-acceptance. Alamar Cosmetics was tapped by Disney for a collaboration that celebrates these uplifting themes with a 13-piece collection inspired by the film’s imaginative lush Colombian landscapes and its magical characters whose individual identities are woven into the diverse tapestry of their family and culture. The collection boasts a full line that includes a richly pigmented eye shadow palette, dazzling blushes, brilliant lip glosses, silky makeup brushes, shimmery eyeliners, and its own personalized handheld mirror—each labeled with names and quotes that hold symbolic remnants from the film.
For Alamar Cosmetics founder Gaby Trujillo, this collaboration with Disney—which is the company’s first with a Latine-owned makeup brand—is a dream come true. “Every time we got to drag and drop in that Disney logo, it was so unreal,” Trujillo gushes to Remezcla. According to the Cuban-American makeup founder, the development for the collaboration began about a year ago when Disney’s multicultural VP DM’d Trujillo on Instagram. She initially thought was fake because she was in such disbelief that they’d chosen to collaborate with her out of all the makeup brands, like the larger corporate ones that are typically selected.
“We’re here to add a little sazón to an industry that desperately needs it!” reads Trujillo’s makeup company’s LinkedIn account, which encapsulates the brand’s vision of creating products for a diverse range of wearers. Alamar Cosmetics was founded just five years ago and is named after the neighborhood in Havana, Cuba, where her family is from. Right after high school, Trujillo began doing make-up for weddings and quinceañeras. Later, she worked her way into a corporate position and started learning the ropes about the business end of the makeup industry, which led to the desire to create her own company. Alamar Cosmetics, which started in 2017, is dedicated to providing cruelty-free, high-quality, and affordable makeup products to its customers.
We caught up with Trujillo to candidly chat about the trials and tribulations of navigating the makeup and beauty industry. She discusses the journey that’s led her to her new esteemed Disney collection, which is available now on the Alamar Cosmetics website, and the process behind building her brand.
One of Encanto’s biggest themes is self-love and expressing yourself authentically. How did those messages tie into creating the makeup products in this collection?
I love that about this movie. As opposed to so many movies we’ve seen in the past, like one of my personal favorites, Little Mermaid, which is mostly focused around romantic love and a love interest or prince, I really love that [Encanto] has nothing to do with that. Instead, it’s all about familial love and self-love. Throughout our collection, there’s a lot of self-love affirmations because we really want to remind people that who you are is what makes you beautiful. The items that we decided to develop for this collection, like the blush, the lip colors, eye shadows, they’re all very fun and pigmented to awaken your inner child by adding pops of color. It’s those small details that are incorporated to make you feel excited to get ready and to remind you that your beauty and magic are within.
What were some of the considerations that went into building the collection in collaboration with Disney to keep the spirit of the movie in mind while maintaining the creative authenticity of your brand?
The process was really awesome and fun! Our challenge was that we wanted to create colors that would speak to the movie and be very authentic to the characters while being mindful that the colors could work for a wide variety of skin tones and can be used together to create a cohesive look. Every single color in the products pulls from scenes in the movie, such as one of the most popular images of the front of the family’s magical house that’s covered in flowers and vines. So we asked ourselves, “What are the colors that make this movie come alive?” Then we took a dropper tool to replicate that imagery into a swatchable palette. As for the packaging, I worked with a graphic designer and we would look at scenes from the movie to pull specific elements that we wanted to incorporate as well, such as the little Mockingbird that’s in there, the butterflies, flowers, the little snake character that you see in the movie—everything is wrapped up into this collection.
One of those considerations you mentioned was being mindful that the colors can work for a wide variety of skin tones. Across beauty and fashion industries, there’s been more advocacy to create and market products geared towards greater diversity and inclusivity. Where do you think that conversation is leading as it applies to makeup?
As time goes on, that’s getting better. Younger generations are getting older, so we are now in better positions to make a change. I think that’s especially true for first-gen Latinos like myself. Before in the ‘90s, all the makeup was so Eurocentric, and brands like CoverGirl, and Revlon catered to people who were not necessarily representative of how we like to do our makeup and the products that we’d reach for. There’s no excuse anymore. How many times do we have to hear, “This collection didn’t work for people beyond a certain skin tone range?” At this point, you have to put in the work to make sure that everything is inclusive because no one should ever feel like, “Oh, man, like, there’s nothing in there for me, I can’t enjoy that.” Now we can speak up for ourselves and advocate for others to say, “No, that’s not going to work for me or my cousins who might range in lighter and darker shades”.
Encanto is based in Colombia. Your family is from Cuba, and then you grew up in Miami, which has very prominent communities with both heritages. How did you go about incorporating those cultures in this collection?
I wanted the collection to feel like it would resonate with everybody, all Latinos. But honestly, everything was based on these themes that we could all relate to, like self-love, family first, and celebrating yourself and what makes you happy. I grew up around a lot of Colombianos in Miami, and have several Colombianos on my team, so I made sure to ask for feedback like, “Hey, does this feel authentic?” One of the shades is named Emerald Eterno because I know emeralds are such a big part of Colombian culture, so I really wanted to bring things in that would make people feel it is authentic. Dímelo Cantando is another one of our shades, which is something we say in Cuba and that’s also said in Colombia. So little things like that for people to relate to and be like, “My family says that too!” We really wanted to make sure that everybody could feel connected and represented while paying special homage to Colombia.
As you previously mentioned, this is a great moment for you and Alamar Cosmetics as a Latina-owned independent makeup brand that was founded just five years ago. So far in your journey, what’s been the biggest learning lesson, and what’s one that you’re most proud of?
When I set out to create my own brand, I was excited and determined. But to be honest, I didn’t think it would be this hard. There are a lot of moving parts, you have to adapt really quickly and you don’t get much time for yourself. That’s been kind of my biggest hurdle, to put myself first. It’s something I really believe in and I preach it to all my friends, but then I’m over here frantically working on a bunch of things and putting my company first. So it’s finding that kind of balance and learning to make more time for myself. Also wearing many hats at the same time while being creative––when you are overseeing a company, you have to do so many things at the same time. I don’t know if I’ll ever figure it out, but we’re learning as we go and it’s worth it. The thing I’m most proud of, of course, is this collection. It’s been massive for me. I’m proud of everything we’ve done but nothing compares to Disney. This is for sure the biggest thing we’ve ever done and the one I’m most proud of.
As a creative makeup artist and business-minded CEO, what’s it like to flow between those two hats, and how does that process work for you?
It’s hard to explain because I love the creative part the most like that’s my calling. I love creating makeup textures colors, putting it on people’s faces. Then the CEO part is not as much fun but I’m still glad that I’m the one in control and I’m the one doing it because I don’t really know how I would feel if someone else was in that seat. I want to have control over everything. I very much pour myself into everything. It is hard to find the balance and to go back and forth, but I still wouldn’t have it any other way. I really like doing both, but I do prefer the creative parts, that’s for sure.
Do you have any advice for anyone that might be interested in creating their own makeup brand?
If you want to create your own makeup, you need a really clear idea of what is going to set you apart. What is your value proposition? For me, I create artist-grade makeup products, and [they’re] all inspired by my culture. I put a lot of my heart and my passion into making really high-quality products at an affordable price point. I would [say], establish your own pillars then make everything in that vision. That will be what keeps you centered because there are so many distractions as far as what everybody else is doing or what’s on-trend. And you have to stay grounded to what your own plan is because if not, you will lose yourself in the process, which has happened to me many times. You’re [also] going to need money to make this dream come true, so make sure that you are putting a little bit aside every day. You might have to live below what you would like to spend—that’s what I did for a long time before I started my brand. I was working nine to five every day and then taking clients every weekend doing a wedding or quinceañera and that was my investment money for my brand. It took me years, but it’s worth it. You’ve got to put in that grind to get to where you’re going.