After graduating from LMU’s College of Business Administration in 2003, Toni Jimenez founded Chica Girl Magazine with her sister Mei-Lon Jimenez in 2007. The publication featured real girls on its covers rather than celebrities in an effort to empower young women to be their authentic selves. The Jimenez sisters’ latest business endeavor is Chica Beauty — a cruelty-free, paraben-free and environmentally friendly beauty brand focused on highlighting confidence from within. Two LMU students, Nicole Azarian and Ashley Heltzel, have joined the Chica Beauty team since its launch in 2019.
Toni Jimenez has infused LMU values into her business approach, as $1 from each Chica Beauty purchase is donated to charity. In the past, Chica Beauty has donated to Incarnate Word High School, Girls Inc. of San Antonio, Dress for Success San Antonio, St. Jude's Ranch for Children Texas, Family Violence Prevention Services and Girl Scouts of Southwest Texas. I spoke with the Jimenez sisters over Zoom to learn more about the Chica Beauty sisterhood they have cultivated.
Francesca Bermudez (F.B.): In your words, what does Chica Beauty stand for?
Mei-Lon Jimenez (M.J.): Chica Beauty is all about real girls, real life and celebrating true beauty. The whole premise behind Chica Beauty is your simplified beauty routine, so you do not need a ton of products. You are beautiful just the way you are.
Toni Jimenez (T.J.): Giving back to our community is super important. With the magazine, we did it differently … we gave back scholarships. For Chica Beauty, we decided to partner with different nonprofits or organizations that have a special meaning to us. We say we are more than just a makeup company and we really believe it because we want to go beyond that.
F.B.: How did your experience in publishing inform your experience in the beauty industry?
T.J.: We would do real photoshoots [for Chica Girl Magazine] and [the cover girls] are not models. They have to be doing something for the community. We want girls to read the stories and be like, “Oh my gosh, I can be just like them.” In the beginning, [the cover girls] are super shy and nervous … but by the end, they loved it. We really were bringing out confidence in girls, so we wanted to bring that same mission of making women feel confident in their own skin.
M.J.: It was so rewarding to see that come out of them. Honestly, it was the same person that walked through the door … but by the end of the day, that confidence was there. It was already there, but we helped bring that out.
F.B.: Are there any specific women who inspired you to launch Chica Beauty?
T.J.: Of course, our mom is like our biggest inspiration. If we were not raised how we were, the points of giving back would not have been ingrained in us.
M.J.: I think we all have these amazing beauty bonds and stories within our own families. My grandma was the first person to do my eyebrows. She barely even did anything on my eyebrows, but I felt so good about myself. We do have a new set coming out and it is completely dedicated to our grandma. Her iconic red lipstick was something she had on all the time.
F.B.: I also admire how Chica Beauty products are cruelty-free and paraben-free. Why was it important to take those extra measures when creating your products?
M.J.: Not only did we make sure that every product is cruelty-free, but we also wanted to make sure it was environmentally friendly. We are constantly challenging ourselves to really look for those initiatives because our planet is so special. We want to make sure we are doing our part.
F.B.: Do you have any advice for students who may want to start a business?
T.J.: To do it. To start a business. You have to be a risk-taker in order to leap out there and follow your dreams and make it a reality. If you truly believe in what you are doing and you are passionate about it, you will make it succeed. One more piece of advice is to ask questions. You want to really learn as much as you can, so I think that is important.
F.B.: What are Chica Beauty’s plans for the future?
M.J.: Oh yeah, we are here to stay. I am super proud of being able to not only start this business, but also working with my sister is just the icing on the cake. Retail is where it is at. We would love to get into stores. We are super excited to head down that path.