If left up to the small or large screen, your favorite glossy or newspaper, or even big budget advertising campaigns, you wouldn’t know an Afro-Latina if she tapped you on the shoulder. But we are out there, and we’re letting our voice be heard. Ain’t I Latina?’s Everyday Chica series highlights millennial Latinas that are blazing a trail in their respective industries, leading by example for future generations of Latinas. This week, we’re featuring a NYC-based social media professional who embraces her roots wholeheartedly.
Nearly a year ago, Elsa Nidia Arauz walked across the stage, receiving a bachelor’s degree from State University of New York at Albany. With a degree in political science and art history in tow, la hondureña landed a job as a legal assistant and prepared to head to law school. At least that’s what she thought However, her passion for her culture, beauty and entrepreneurship merged to create KARIF Beauty, a monthly subscription box service that provides cosmetics, hair care and skin care samples.
With KARIF set to launch, we caught up with the young innovator to talk about her new venture, her Honduran roots and learning to love herself as an Afro-Latina.
Tell me about yourself: Where are you from? Discuss your upbringing — how did it help you craft your identity?
I hail from the beautiful country of Honduras, more specifically from Santa Rosa de Aguan, one of the 33 Garifuna towns situated on the Caribbean coast of Honduras. At the age of 9 months, I moved to the United States and enrolled into American schools and adopted an American lifestyle. However, all throughout childhood I spent each summer in Honduras and that constant exposure engrained in me what it meant to be Garifuna.
You’re preparing for the official launch of KARIF Beauty. What inspired you to create and launch KARIF?
I look at KARIF as a response to the challenges I faced as a Black Spanish-speaking girl living in the Bronx. All throughout high school I disliked myself, my face and my skin color because I felt like I was an oddity. I mean, how can you be Black and Latina as well? I never quite fit in because it seemed like I had two major cultures running through my veins. It was tough. Eventually I broke out of that mentality and decided I was beautiful just the way I was. In fact, it had finally clicked in my head that being Afro-Latina was a wonderful thing and I needed to be proud to say it. So KARIF was born and my life changed. I just wanted to reach out to Garifunas, Afro-Latinas and all women of color and tell them, ‘Hey, this is for us, come and join us.’ The most rewarding thing about building a company is creating a community.
What KARIF will offer is very simple – it’s all about discovery. We facilitate the discovery of new beauty brands to our subscribers, but our main goal is to transform their thinking and elevate their definition of beauty. With KARIF we want to say, ‘Hey, the definition of beauty has expanded and includes you.’ That’s the kind of sentiment we want to leave our subscribers with.
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