Cristina Nuñez, Co-Founder and General Partner at True Beauty Ventures, joins us for a conversation as part of our series celebrating inspirational female leaders during Women’s History Month.
Inspiring Women: Cristina Nuñez
Q: Since we’re celebrating Women’s month, we’d love to hear about any female mentors who’ve inspired you in your life.
Cristina Nuñez: My mom, Lourdes Nuñez, was my first female mentor. She taught me the importance of education, dedication to family, and perseverance in the face of adversity. She left Cuba when she was 7 years old with only her mother, leaving her father and brother behind because they were not allowed to leave the country. She was scared, cold (they arrived in Chicago from Cuba!) and didn’t speak the language or understand the culture. Her ability to push past these challenges and learn the language, become independent, and excel in her academics inspired me in my own pursuit of education and personal achievements. After she had me and my two sisters, she went back to school to earn her teaching degree. My mom’s motivation to be both a mother and a professional were ingrained in me from the very beginning, and I am so grateful to have her as a role model.
Elana Drell Szyfer has been a mentor, colleague, and dear friend. She was instrumental in my development professionally in the beauty industry. Elana showed me how to be a strong, intelligent businesswoman who could articulate her point of view with both confidence and grace. She embodies what it means to be a leader in every sense of the word - calm under pressure, tenacity to overcome challenges, and humor to get you through it all. She encouraged me to believe in myself and to always ask for what I want. “What’s the worst that can happen,” she would say, “they just tell you no?”. My time working for her at Laura Geller Beauty profoundly shaped my ability and confidence to build and manage a team as the GM of Clark’s Botanicals. Elana continues to inspire me to achieve new heights in my professional career and in my future role as wife and mother, one day.
Q: What was your driving force behind building True Beauty Ventures?
C.N.: We set out to create True Beauty Ventures so that we could institutionalize our domain expertise and decades of investing and operating in beauty. Like many startups, we first identified a major problem and unmet need in the market, which was the significant lack of institutional capital and expertise for emerging growth beauty and wellness brands. My partner, Rich Gersten, and I saw a whitespace in the investment landscape where indie beauty brands were not getting access to many institutional funds due to the larger sized checks they needed to write. For the investors that could write smaller checks for emerging brands, none of the funds offered our beauty investing and operating experience, extensive beauty ecosystem, and industry reputation and track record. We believe our sector focus is our unfair advantage and we are excited to capitalize on the opportunity to bring our knowledge and network to emerging growth beauty and wellness brands.
Q: With this past year being so challenging, what has kept you motivated, positive and moving forward?
C.N.: If there is anything that this past year has taught us, it is the value of the simple things in life. The importance of family, health, and maintaining key relationships (albeit virtually) kept me positive and grateful. The ability to build a business during a global pandemic that could impact many small brands and help change their trajectories has kept me highly motivated. The blessing of being surrounded by amazing partners in my life (my fiancé, Kevin, and my business partner, Rich) kept me moving forward knowing that I was supported and encouraged to be my best self.
Q: What is one thing that you have learned from making mistakes along the way?
C.N.: My biggest learning from making mistakes is to try not dwell on them. Act quick and act decisively. I’ve also learned that failing is ok, if you fail fast and fail forward. Always find a way to turn a loss into a learn. Lastly, I’ve learned that fear of making a mistake is often way worse than the mistake itself.
Q: What excites and inspires you?
C.N.: So many things inspire and excite me! Since I was little, my grandparents and parents always instilled in me the value of hard work and the motivation to reach for the stars. My background growing up as a Cuban American in a predominantly Cuban culture in Miami has also given me a strong sense of pride in my heritage and the desire to support and promote Latinx (and other minority) groups. I truly believe that diversity delivers more than just returns. It makes the world a better place and I’m excited that True Beauty Ventures has a mission to contribute to that by supporting and funding women and diverse founders.
Overall, I am very excited and inspired by the ability to build an incredible firm and brand with True Beauty Ventures. We have the potential to truly impact the lives of the founders and brands we partner with and that is so rewarding to me. True Beauty Ventures is a dream job. It allows me to combine my investing and operating skills in an industry that I am so passionate about, both personally and professionally. I’m beyond fortunate to love what I do and do what I love.
Q: What advice would you give to other women looking to pursue their own dreams?
C.N.: I have a few pieces of advice for women trying to pursue their dreams:
- Do the hard work. It will be worth it.
- Listen to your gut. Women have such an incredible intuition - follow it.
- Surround yourself with smart, diverse people (in body, mind, and spirit) that challenge your way of thinking.
- Never stop learning...
Q: Now to the fun part! What does your skincare routine look like and what is your go-to product from RéVive?
C.N.: My nighttime skincare routine is both my wind down / recharge time and, also when I do my introspective / post-mortem thinking of the day. So, let’s just say, it can take a while!
- Start with a cleanse and sometimes double cleanse if I happen to have makeup on. I love Glow Recipe’s papaya enzyme cleansing balm to help remove makeup and Shani Darden’s cleansing serum with hyaluronic acid.
- For exfoliation, I am loving the Kinship Insta Wipes that help clear clogged pores and brighten skin. They are so convenient and effective.
- I tone before applying any serums and have been loving Glow Recipe’s Watermelon Glow PHA+BHA Toner.
- I suffer from hyperpigmentation, so once a week I use Algenist’s Blue Algae Vitamin C Dark Spot Correcting Peel. LOVE.
- I apply Vitamin C daily and I’m currently obsessed with Mara Beauty’s Sea Vitamin C Serum.
- Eye cream is a must for me. I have been loving Herb + Flora’s Eye of the Cyclops Recovery Eye Gel.
- I can’t get enough of RéVive’s Moisturizing Renewal Serum, especially when I need that extra overnight repair boost.
- I couple that with RéVive’s Moisturizing Renewal Cream. Feels so decadent to put on.
- For daytime, I am obsessed with Kinship’s Self Reflect Probiotic Moisturizing Sunscreen SPF 32. Truly the best sunscreen I have ever tried.