How this beauty brand founder turned her side hustle into a business bringing in millions – CNBC

Araceli Ledesma, founder and CEO of Araceli Beauty, is a master at building a successful business from the ground up while staying true to her culture and values.

As a freelance makeup artist, Ledesma launched Araceli Beauty, a “Mexicana-inspired” beauty and cosmetics brand, in 2018 as a side hustle.

“I learned a lot from my clients [about makeup],” she shares with CNBC Make It. “I learned how they were confused, why they were confused, and what could make their lives easier. And that’s what gave me the idea to create something a little bit more universal and easy for everyone to use.”

Born in Jalisco, Mexico, Ledesma, who prefers not to share her age, and her family relocated to California for a better life when she was just 5 years old. Even then, she had an immense love for makeup. 

“When I was very young, I got a little sample of lipstick. And I would take the bus home,” Ledesma shares. “I remember I put it on and as soon as I got home, I just threw it out the window because I was scared that I would get in trouble with my mom for wearing lipstick, but I’ve always loved makeup.”

Now, four years after starting her company, has made over $2 million in revenue and amassed a following of over 160,000 people across Araceli Beauty’s social platforms. 

A girl and a dream

During Ledesma’s high school years, she began to get serious about her love for beauty and wanted to take her school’s extracurricular cosmetology class. Unfortunately, it came with a hefty price tag.

“I was in 11th grade and I begged my mom to let me do this cosmetology program. It was a little bit pricey for us because we were low-income. But I begged my mom to let me borrow $600 so I could pay for it. And for a high schooler, that was a fortune. But my mom still lent me the cash.” 

Ledesma then spent the next couple of years working at Taco Bell to pay off her debt, while still taking cosmetology classes. By the age of 18, she obtained her license and knew she wanted to pursue beauty long-term. She got a job working in a salon as a hairstylist, which later “evolved into doing makeup within the salon as well.”

Staying true to her roots

Many experts agree that the beauty and cosmetics industry has become oversaturated in recent …….


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