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“I always dreamed of creating my own line, but I wanted to wait for the right moment. So when I decided it was time, I knew exactly what the brand was going to look like and what it was going to represent.”
Camila Coelho is a household name — at least if you’re immersed in the sprawling world of fashion and beauty content creators. One of the OG influencers, Brazilian-born Coelho started her channel over a decade ago (a century in social media time) with a YouTube channel dedicated to sharing beauty tips and tricks. A makeup artist by trade, today Coelho has 8.9 million followers on Instagram and 1.2 million subscribers on YouTube. She also has a mega-successful swimwear collection and collabs with some of the biggest brands around the world.
But why stop there? Last year, in the midst of a global pandemic, Camila Coelho launched Elaluz, a cross-category beauty brand with hair, skin and makeup product offerings. It turns out that Elaluz is more than just a side hustle for the successful influencer and content creator. In fact, it’s been part of the plan all along.
We caught up with Camila Coelho to chat all things beauty, including how she harnessed her 11 years of social media experience to make Elaluz a success.
On her start in beauty
“I worked at the Dior counter at Macy’s and to this day, every time I think about my career, I think about that job. I had just left high school and it was my first real, full-time job. The experience was something that I still think about. At first I was a salesperson, so I was just selling the makeup, but then I learned how to actually do makeup and I became a makeup artist at the counter.
“I learned a lot about how to engage with people, and how to be patient. You get people coming in with so many different moods, people from different backgrounds with different needs. That job really taught me how to engage with people and how to lift them up every single day. For me it was the best feeling every time a person walked [away from] the counter with a smile on their face. Even though I hated the retail hours and working on the weekends, that part was why I decided to become a makeup artist. I still take those lessons with me today.
“After I left that job, I started working on social media and one of my main goals was to lift people, especially women, up, and show them that they have such a beautiful light shining inside of them. Working at that makeup counter was key to my success today, I think.”
On the pressures of social media
“I was 22 when I started [my career as a content creator] and any time I’d get a negative comment, I would cry. So I can’t imagine kids now who are doing it at 13 or 14. From age 15 to 17 was when I was really struggling with epilepsy, and it was really hard because it’s a time that you’re figuring out who you are and anything that people say to you can deeply affect you. It’s a really hard time for teenagers. I can’t even imagine being a teenager [on social media] today, so I really applaud the young people who are really successful and know how to handle it well.”
On her beauty brand, Elaluz
“I’ve always been so passionate about beauty. In my passport photo when I was six years old, I had red lipstick. As soon as I started working on social media and working with other brands, I dreamed of creating my own line, but I wanted to wait for the right moment. So when I decided it was time, I knew exactly what this brand was going to look like and what this brand was going to represent. Elaluz means “She is light” in my native language Portuguese.
“I also knew my brand had to be clean and sustainable. We worked for two years before we actually launched the brand. I always say that finalizing a product, especially when you’re clean brand, is like winning an award because there’s so much that goes into one product, so much back and forth when it comes to formula and packaging, so it’s really rewarding when you put a product out there and people actually like it. When it comes to sustainability, we’ve partnered with One Tree Planted and we get to plant trees here in Malibu, and with the sale of every product, a part of the proceeds goes toward planting trees in my home country, Brazil.”
On feeling insecure about opting out of going to college
“I moved to the United States with my family when I was 14 and I saw my mom work so hard after a tough divorce, which made me want to be independent very early on. During high school instead of doing cheerleading, which I really wanted to do, I decided to get a part-time job at a pizza place. I wanted that feeling of independence and I felt bad asking my mom for money after seeing her work so hard, so I started working and I was so happy.
“Then when it was time for me to apply for college, I just didn’t know what I wanted to do, and my biggest fear was doing something that I would regret later, like go to college for something that I wouldn’t then pursue. I told my mom I wanted six months to figure out what I want to do. Of course, she went crazy. I looked in her eyes and said, ‘Mom, I will make you proud. I promise you that.’ For a long time, I kept that promise in mind.
“During those six months, I got the job at Macy’s, and from there I became a makeup artist and that brought me to social media. But the times I felt the most insecure about not having gone to school was actually when I started working with other brands and traveling. I would sit at a table and everyone would be like ‘I went to college for this or that’ and I would feel insecure because I thought that they’d all look at me differently because I didn’t go to college. But looking back now, I think not going made me work even harder. I felt like I needed to work harder to stand out.”
On the importance of diversity within the beauty industry
“I’ve been on trips with a brand or at fashion week and I look around the room and I’m the only Latina there. Even when I started on YouTube, the most popular comments I would get were about people not being able to find their foundation shade. I didn’t want that for Elaluz. Because I have such a global audience, I wanted my brand to represent all of these people. So when we started selling direct to consumer online, my goal was to launch worldwide. And if we were going to do that, the brand needed to represent everyone. It’s definitely been our priority since day one.”