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Beauty And Substance: 4 Inspiring Filipina Entrepreneurs Share Their Perspectives On Beauty

As we all know, the world of beauty and skincare can be an overwhelming one. From the sheer number of products out in the market to the mixed messages often being conveyed, finding out what truly works can be tricky. Luckily for us here in Manila, the beauty industry is brimming with inspiring men and women, who are passionate in creating highly innovative and amazing products that help us look and feel our absolute best. 

To honor their work, we talked to some of the top local female entrepreneurs and most influential women in the beauty industry. We’re talking game-changers, risk-takers, trend-starters, trailblazers, and the exemplary few who embody all of the above. Scroll through, read up, and pay homage to the tastemakers and insiders who have changed the industry as we know it, and made this world a little more beautiful for all of us! 

 

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Rissa Mananquil-Trillo, Co-founder and Chief Brand Officer of Happy Skin

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

A post shared by Rissa Mananquil Trillo (@rissamananquiltrillo) on

 

Metro.Style: What was that decisive moment that led you to create a local beauty brand?

RMT: "While at home and newly married to my husband, Paolo, my lightbulb moment came around seven or eight years ago while putting on makeup one weekend morning. As I stared at myself in the mirror and slathered on a thick foundation meant for a four-seasons country, I felt sad that I couldn't seem to skip it because I relied on it to hide my blemishes, big pores, and patchy skin. The big irony is we wear makeup to look good, but it’s often just a cover-up for bad skin. Did I really feel prettier and more confident with this kind of makeup? 

At the peak of my modeling career, my skin was at its worst. With all my years of modeling, wearing every imaginable makeup brand on my face, and listening to women’s concerns as a beauty columnist, I had this burning desire to create makeup that did not ruin the skin, was appropriate for our tropical weather, and actually suited the Filipina skin tone.

And so, I attempted to touch base with one of the country’s biggest Pinoy retail brands to float the idea. Yes, Happy Skin wasn't my first attempt to start my own makeup line. I wanted to partner with someone with the capacity to celebrate all things local, even Filipina beauty. I wanted to start with lipsticks that didn’t dry out the lips—around five to eight Pinay-friendly lip colors. In hindsight, if Happy Skin wasn’t born, I would’ve pursued another path to make another beauty brand happen. Unlike most people who start a business, I wasn’t really driven by money, a way out of the corporate world, or the desire to have more free time. I was just really passionate and wanted to provide a solution to a problem Filipinas had been facing for years because I knew and understood how it felt, too."

 

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

A post shared by Rissa Mananquil Trillo (@rissamananquiltrillo) on

 

Do you have an ultimate mission or philosophy that fuels everything that you do?

RMT: "As Richard Branson once said, “If you aren’t making a difference in other people’s lives, you shouldn’t be in business. It’s that simple.” It will never be easy to say no to things everyone else is saying yes to. Compromising what you believe in is ultimately shortchanging yourself. Even if it might be harder, always choose to do what’s right."

 

What does beauty mean to you?

RMT: "Beauty for me is about being comfortable in the skin you’re in, embracing imperfections, and celebrating everything unique about yourself. Don’t be afraid to be different. Be more afraid of being the same as everybody else. You will never influence the world by trying to be like it."

 

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

A post shared by Rissa Mananquil Trillo (@rissamananquiltrillo) on

 

What is your vision of success?

RMT: "I remember when I was in Silicon Valley touring all the HQs of the big tech companies, one of the innovation speakers explained that in this new era of doing business, "Profit is no longer the measure of success. It's solving problems and changing the lives of people." I always took that to heart. Every time I visit Happy Skin stores and I get to talk to our customers, it's so rewarding to hear stories like, "You know what, I never thought I could wear makeup, but now I can because of Happy Skin." I've meet brides-to-be shopping for the makeup they'll wear on their special day. We have our beauty advisors telling us that there are customers coming to our stores bringing prescriptions from doctors or ob-gynes because Happy Skin is the recommended makeup to use on their skin. Even on social media, I get so many heartwarming messages on how Happy Skin makeup has empowered them. It’s so fulfilling to hear these personal stories of how Happy Skin has made women feel happier.

People are not just satisfied with beautiful products; it should also change lives. Every business can be a force of good because it improves other people’s lives. Anyone can be a boss or entrepreneur—start a business, make some money—but not everyone gives back or add value to the lives of people. Money is a measure of success in business but not a measure of success in life. Success to me isn’t about being fulfilled because of numbers, but about making an impact and changing lives of people."

 

What’s next for Happy Skin? 

RMT: "I am proud to see that there is so much love for homegrown Filipino brands today. It’s become social currency to wear something from a local brand or from a local designer that not many people know about. It’s an exciting time because more people have pride in local talent, and I would like to think Happy Skin contributed to this change in culture from prizing what’s imported to genuinely loving what’s local, and has paved the way for so many homegrown cosmetics brands entering the market today. It's great that consumers are being given access to so many different options because this was not the case as early as five years ago. And even though some of these new brands are our competitors, we take the perspective that having them around also makes us better—they keep us on our toes and encourage us to keep our consumer hat on all the time, always thinking of innovative, creative ways to address the beauty concerns of Filipinas. Our upcoming collections aim to address the newest beauty and wellness concerns of women. I can’t divulge just yet but we will always aim to be customer-centric. For me, Filipinas will always be our number one source of innovation and inspiration."

 

READ: You Can Now Confidently Wear Makeup To The Gym, Thanks To Kathryn Bernardo’s Newest Collection

 

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

A post shared by Rissa Mananquil Trillo (@rissamananquiltrillo) on

 

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

A post shared by Rissa Mananquil Trillo (@rissamananquiltrillo) on

 

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

A post shared by Rissa Mananquil Trillo (@rissamananquiltrillo) on

 

READ: Designer Michael Leyva Wows Russians With New Collection

 

Jen Gerodias-Diaz, CEO/Founder of Snoe Beauty Inc.

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

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Metro.Style: What was that decisive moment that led you to create a local beauty brand?

JGD: “I had my defining moment nine years ago. I was in finance and fuel retail, both of which had no relation to cosmetics. My love for beauty products was personal. I would try both local and international brands and shop for cosmetics whenever I travel abroad. My husband noticed this and he actually suggested that I create my own products when we chanced upon a soap supplier which I gave away for Christmas. This lead me to enroll myself to a Personal Care Science course so I can formulate products from scratch according to the needs of our clients.”

 

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

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MS: Do you have an ultimate mission or philosophy that fuels everything that you do?

JGD: “I love what I do so it keeps me inspired. Creating something from the ground up and getting good feedback is what fuels me to do better. I used to say that Snoe is my baby but it has grown to be a family. So, every member in our family must be nurtured. We do so with scholarship programs for our employees.”

 

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

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MS: What does beauty mean to you?

JGD: “Beauty is health. I always believe in life balance—eating well, working out, living positively. Having time for your loved ones, a time to enjoy and a time for one's self, to reflect. Beauty for me is also about self improvement and self love.  Enriching the brain, finding out what your talents are and sharing it to the world. As cliche as it may sound, beauty is not just physical, but it also mental, emotional and spiritual. It's a holistic sense of what makes a person beautiful.”

 

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

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MS: What is your vision of success?

JGD: “Success is when you don't have to prove anything to anyone including yourself. It's when you've realized that you have fulfilled your full potential as a person.”

 

MS: What’s next for Snoe Beauty? 

JGD: “I recently launched The House of Snoe. It's an extended family of Snoe composed of unique and creative individuals who work with us to collaborate and share our love for beauty. We are also shifting to greener packaging as our way to help care for the environment. We're also launching more products and opening more stores.”

 

READ: Look Good And Feel Good With These Filipino Organic Beauty Brands

 

Camille Meloto-Rodriguez, Co-founder and Design Head of Human Nature

 

Metro.Style: What was that decisive moment that led you to create a local beauty brand?

CM: "I was in the US with my sister, Anna and my brother in law Dylan. While browsing personal care and makeup stores, we observed that a lot of popular natural products had ingredients sourced from the Philippines like coconut oil. However, these products are very expensive (and unaffordable for the middle class) yet our farmers get paid so low. 

This gave us the dream to start our own local beauty brand run by a social enterprise—to provide genuinely natural products that every Filipino can afford while uplifting the poor from poverty."

 

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

A post shared by Human Nature Philippines (@humanheartnature) on

 

MS: Do you have an ultimate mission or philosophy that fuels everything that you do?

CM: "When we started Human Nature, we really wanted to align with the 3 main ideals of pro-Philippines, pro-poor and pro-environment. So everything that we do has to be aligned with these three main pillars. Though we have these three pillars, one main reason why we started Human Nature was also to live purposefully and use the work of our hands to put our faith into action. Having faith in action as one of the main drivers of our mission led us to not give up so easily despite the road being tough. Constantly reminding ourselves of this has led us to come up with several unconventional company practices like the no firing policy, no work on Sundays, shortened work hours among others that other FMCGs would think is crazy–but doing a lot of positive things for us and for our employees."

 

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

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MS: What does beauty mean to you?

CM: "On the surface, beauty for me is when the confidence from within exudes towards the outside of a person. However, truly beautiful people for me are people with qualities I admire such as kindness, purity of heart, inner strength and humility."

 

What is your vision of success?

CM: "Living a meaningful life not just for myself and for the people around me. My ultimate dream back when I was younger was to have my own family, now that I am starting my own family I hope we’re a family that will live with integrity and good values, raised with the guidance of our faith."

 

READ: Global Girlboss And Proudly Filipino Michelle Mendiola Dares You To Dream Big And Make A Difference

 

Jacqe Yuengtian-Gutierrez, CEO & Co-Founder of Happy Skin Cosmetics, BLK Cosmetics and Seoul White Korea

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

A post shared by Jacqe Yuengtian-Gutierrez (@jygutierrez) on

 

MS: What was that decisive moment that led you to decide to create a local beauty brand?

JYG: "In 2012, I got assigned to work for Unilever Singapore, where I handled the entire face category in Southeast Asia and Australasia. It was a great opportunity and I loved that I got to understand women and their needs even more. But I was newly married then and the job required me to travel all the time. I was rarely with my husband and my family. That became my turning point. At that time, I had been in the corporate marketing world for almost a decade and I started to re-think what really mattered the most to me and how I imagined my future to be. It was very hard to leave the corporate world because I was so used to the security it provided, but creating my own brand was also a life-long dream of mine. My husband was my biggest supporter—I know I wouldn't have been able to do this if he wasn’t behind me all the way. 

I took a leap of faith and created Happy Skin in October 2013. I think Happy Skin entered the beauty business during the best possible time. Filipinos were beginning to love and be proud of local brands. And so we were able to create a local cosmetic brand that’s world-class in all aspects—from the product’s quality to its packaging design to its unique proposition. We created a brand that Filipinas would be truly proud to use and be seen with.

After managing Happy Skin for five years, I realized that there was still a gap in the cosmetics industry. We needed a brand to play in the mid-tier price point that’s competitive versus other local players. BLK was then created to offer uncomplicated and high-quality products that can still play competitively at this price point.

Seoul White Korea, on the other hand, is our attempt to enter the personal care category—the largest and most competitive segment of fast-moving consumer goods. K-beauty is a major and a long-term trend in the Philippines and I wanted to provide Filipinas an everyday solution for them to achieve their K-white dreams."

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

A post shared by Jacqe Yuengtian-Gutierrez (@jygutierrez) on

 

MS: Do you have an ultimate mission or philosophy that fuels everything that you do?

JYG: "My dream has always been to make my country proud and to give jobs to fellow Filipinas. I truly believe that we live in an age where one person—and any one person—can make a difference. We have so much power in our hands to build and influence brands that shape how people think. With every brand I build, my goal is to make sure that it’s world-class and something that Filipinos can truly be proud of. The ultimate mission is to create brands that are successful and sustainable so that it will have the capability to give jobs to more Filipinas."

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

A post shared by Jacqe Yuengtian-Gutierrez (@jygutierrez) on

 

MS: What does beauty mean to you?

JYG: "Beauty is not just physical. Ultimately, it’s about how you feel inside and this reflects in your eyes. Working in the beauty industry, it’s easy to get caught up with all the trends and latest must-haves. That’s why it’s important to stay grounded and remember that beauty tools are there to help build your confidence, but it cannot replace who you are and it does it define who you are. Feeling beautiful starts by being happy from within and this cannot be achieved by following the latest in the beauty world. For me, true joy, and true beauty as a result, can only come from being able to enjoy life with the people I love."

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

A post shared by Jacqe Yuengtian-Gutierrez (@jygutierrez) on

 

MS: What is your vision of success?

JYG: "I believe that having the right motivation is the key to achieving your dreams. And so for me, success means building sustainable, world-class businesses that can give stable jobs to more Filipinas. Outside of my career, it also means being able to spend time every day with my family—experiencing all my kids’ firsts, cooking dinner for my husband and having meaningful conversations with him, and being able to spend most weekends relaxed and worry-free."

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

A post shared by Jacqe Yuengtian-Gutierrez (@jygutierrez) on

 

MS: What’s next for blk cosmetics/Happy Skin/Seoul White? 

JYG: "Millennials paved the way for social media and social media paved the way for Happy Skin, BLK, and Seoul White. We entered the market at the right time, when social media was becoming the great equalizer between the big brands and the start-ups. Filipinos are also more receptive to homegrown brands now—there’s a stronger sense of pride in patronizing Pinoy brands. Hopefully, these three brands remain relevant to our market and can continue to churn out exciting product innovations. Product innovation is highly crucial in the cosmetics category and that’s something that we will constantly focus on. It’s important for cosmetic brands to bring excitement to consumers and to give them a satisfying user experience. 

The ultimate goal of Happy Skin and blk is to be a respected cosmetic brand in the world. We want to transform a pervading mentality and prove that Filipinos can create global brands and be globally competitive. 

I believe that all my brands are attuned to the ever-evolving desires of Filipinas today. They are relevant, innovative, and intuitive! Hopefully, these will elevate the brands to be truly world-class."