Mei-Lon’s business has always been inseparable from the notions of diversity and inclusion. Growing up as a woman of color, she became familiar with the frustrations of exclusion and homogeneity. She transitioned from being a minority in her interest areas (math and science), to more of the same in her major (biology), to recognizing herself as the only woman in a boardroom: something she "has always been used to in her professional career." None of these adversities ever held Mei-Lon back. She recognizes the power of an unapologetically confident woman, especially when underestimated. That's why in her career she has ceaselessly worked as a champion of diversity and inclusion. In fact, her professional endeavors have always had diversity and inclusion prominent within their stitching. She is part of Women in Retail, as well as other women's entrepreneur groups where she learns from and inspires other women. She volunteers her time speaking at events meant to empower young girls and women alike to embrace their differences and be leaders in their various industries. Her and her sister, Toni, have volunteered at over 300 middle schools as partners with the nonprofit Girls Inc., getting invited because the schools wanted their students to see someone "like them" making a difference and finding success. Finally, Mei-Lon co-founded her current business, Chica Beauty, with her sister, Toni, because they wanted to revolutionize the beauty industry with a brand that screams diversity and inclusion - something that they found was missing in the beauty industry's current environment. As a Latina CEO, founder and business-woman, Mei-Lon feels proud to represent the change she wishes to see in the world.
The foundation of Mei-Lon's current business, Chica Beauty, is the mission of empowering women to be their authentic selves through simplicity, real beauty and giving back to the community. Her team is made up of individuals of different ethnicities, genders, backgrounds and generations. While she grew up primarily in Texas, Mei-Lon was born in East LA, and part of what inspires her to be a champion of diversity and inclusion is this history. She loves Los Angeles for being a melting pot of thousands of different communities, all while individuality is promoted and honored. She is proud to live in Los Angeles now and to have a business here, where her values are matched on every corner.
Upon graduating from Loyola Marymount University, Toni Jimenez has proven her dedication to changing the world around her to help not only her own Latin community and Latina sisters, but those outside of it as well. At the young age of 23, Toni started her first business: ChicaGirl Magazine. Founded in 2007, ChicaGirl was the first digital magazine of its kind. Moreover, in traditional Toni Jimenez fashion, the entire operation was dedicated to women empowerment and philanthropy. Toni and the ChicaGirl team raised over $300,000 in scholarships dedicated to helping girls receive a college education. Toni's current business is Chica Beauty, which she co-founded with her sister, Mei-Lon.
The two started Chica Beauty with ChicaGirl's mission in mind; creating a beauty brand with a mission to empower girls to be confident in their most authentic selves and giving back fiscally to the community with their Chica Gives program, which partners with nonprofits like Girls Inc. and donates to them with every purchase made from Chica Beauty! Not to mention the Chica Beauty team, who come from different countries, were raised with different cultures and background, are proud of their different ethnicities, and bring knowledge from different generations starting as young as current high school students and ranging all the way to Toni and Mei-Lon’s grandmother, who inspired many aspects of the brand and acted as an honest critic to the brand and its products.
The inclusivity of Chica Beauty means a lot to Toni as a founder. It is important to her that her businesses represent a demographic often overlooked, especially in the beauty industry. The way she sees it, being a Latina founder alone can create a positive impact for younger generations to see that their potential to own and create a business is tangible...therefore creating an inclusive environment and showing the importance of diversity. Toni has volunteered her time speaking at over 300 middle schools and various other speaking engagements to show girls and women that they too can do it. She remembers feeling overwhelmingly happy when schools would invite her, saying that they would like their students to see that someone "like them" was able to make a difference and be successful. It is Toni's mission to lead by example and show the world that being a minority is a strength, and that the most important aspect of business-ownership is ensuring that your business reflects your values in all of its many facets, through and through.
Toni says about her and her sister founding Chica Beauty: "As Women we are also stepping up and creating awareness that women-owned businesses can be successful as leaders whose mission is about empowering and giving back to our community while providing quality products to our consumers. As women and sisters entering the beauty industry we are also creating a new sense of environment that is inclusive. We are breaking the mold by providing new possibilities for our team and customers. We encourage all women to feel beautiful in their own skin and that in it of itself is creating inclusion and bringing women together. We want women to feel confident and beautiful in their own skin and create a community where diversity is welcomed with open arms."
Congratulations Mei-Lon and Toni! The Chica Beauty sisterhood has so much to be proud of, our values being #1!