Sugary Cosmetics Startup Founder Shares How She Became an Immigrant CEO

BELatina Cosmetics Kathy Brogna

The United States is worldwide known as “the land of opportunity.” A solid ground where millions of immigrants arrive to build a solid dream — the so-called “American dream.” To be more specific, as of 2015, a total of 47 million immigrants live in this country, and each one of them is crucial in relation to the development or success of the nation.  

From the richness of culture and innovative ideas to billion-dollar startup companies and robust tax contributions, immigrants have always made the US diverse and better. A study from the National Foundation for American Policy revealed that 55 percent of the United State’s $1 billion entrepreneurial ventures had at least one immigrant founder. Overall, immigrants — whether they are founders or employees — have a high and positive impact on the economy. 

Kathy Brogna arrived in the United States from the Dominican Republic as a 14-year-old with her family. After finishing high school, she enrolled in college to pursue a career in law, to later discover that the beauty industry was actually her true passion. “Growing up I used to think I wanted to be a lawyer, but quickly I realized that what I wanted was no longer my passion,” said Brogna to BELatina. “After getting my associate [degree], I discovered that I had an indescribable love for makeup and the beauty field in general,” she revealed.

“I always thought my parents would be disappointed I didn’t move forward with attending law school,” she continued. “I honestly only attended college because I was afraid of telling them I no longer wanted to be a lawyer.” Telling a Dominican parent that you won’t pursue a traditional career but, instead, an artistic career is always hard and nerve-wracking; luckily her mom and dad just wanted her to be happy. “Surprisingly, when I told my parents that I no longer wanted to attend college they were very supportive, they knew I had a plan.”

Sugary Cosmetic BELatina Kathy Brogna

The Dominican entrepreneur saw an opportunity of self-expression and personal fulfillment when she decided to register in a cosmetology school. “While I was attending cosmetology school I don’t think my goal was to become a makeup artist or a hairstylist,” said Brogna. “I just wanted to educate myself in the field because I knew I wanted to create my own products and I wanted to create something different and fun.”

Dreaming of building a beauty brand that resonated well with people, Kathy Brogna started to save all her money to launch what we know today as Sugary Cosmetics — a 100% cruelty-free beauty brand that uses the beloved and iconic candy heart as its inspiration. From high-quality makeup brushes to highly pigmented eyeshadow palettes, Kathy Brogna makes sure that every collection comes in packaging that represents a distinctive treat that transports us to a specific season or a young, colorful, and sometimes nostalgic moment of our lives. “Packaging is so important to me,” she said. “I spend months thinking about different ideas and drawing things up. I always thought that makeup is supposed to be fun; therefore I wanted my packaging to be just like that because time goes by and we get older, but the little girl and boy in us do not have to fade away,” says Brogna, adding that her goal was to create a collection that reminded people of how excited they used to get after receiving a new toy. “I love food! But my favorite part is dessert time! So I wanted to create makeup inspired by sweets and desserts.”

Although the packaging design and the makeup itself only allude to fun times, the process wasn’t an easy ride and for years she lived first hand all the challenges an immigrant faces before taking off. “The most challenging part I would say was the financial part,” said Brogna. “I knew I was investing all I had, and at the time it wasn’t much at all,” she revealed.  “My husband was the one who encouraged me and told me to go for it. We have three children so every launch is a risk. By being a small company I can’t afford to make mistakes, but he always has my back and believes in my ability to create a successful company.”

“I wanted to create a product that was 100% mine, but financially I could not afford it,” she said. “I had to use a private label for Sugary Cosmetics’ first palette. To my luck the production company allowed me to change certain things and somewhat customize my product.”

Having hundreds of palettes ready to be distributed, then came Brogna’s second challenge. Who is going to trust and buy Sugary Cosmetics products? The answer to this question could determine her future in the very competitive beauty industry. “Promoting the company and reaching the right people was also difficult,” said the businesswoman. “But I knocked on every door possible and so many people agreed to help us and try our products.” 

 It’s been almost a year since Kathy Brogna launched her makeup brand, and although the clientele response has been positive, the young entrepreneur knows she still has so much more to offer. “I visualize Sugary Cosmetics being a well-known company sooner rather than later. I absolutely believe we are on the way to becoming people’s favorite,” she says predicting the future of the U.S.-based brand. “Sugary Cosmetics’ first anniversary is coming up in April and I can’t believe I have managed to launch five collections already. It has not been easy, but there’s no easy way to any place worth going.” Sugary Cosmetics is already hinting on social media about their sixth collection and beauty enthusiasts have made clear they would definitely be supporting the business. 

The small business owner also revealed that she considers her beauty brand one of her babies and that she would absolutely prefer to stay independent by having full control of Sugary Cosmetics. “As a Latina, it makes me very proud to be able to have my own company and actually be successful in a very competitive industry. I hope to inspire others to follow their dreams,” Brogna said.