Dominican-American influencer Carolina Contreras has been building a solid following through her blog Miss Rizos and her series of natural hair salons, and now she’s secured a partnership that will take her brand to the next level.
The Miss Rizos founder and CEO is set to debut her new line of products designed for curly and Afro-textured hair as part of Sephora’s 2022 Accelerate brand incubator program.
“I knew, I knew, that what we had was special. And I knew there was an empty sort of shelf both online and in stores kind of waiting for this product to happen,” Contreras told NBC News.
She launched the blog in 2011 to highlight the beauty of curls, coils, and Afro-Latina culture.
Her inspiration came when she moved back to the Dominican Republic, where she was born, to research her roots within the Dominican diaspora and how that relates to her Blackness. Not an openly embraced topic within Dominican culture, Contreras knew she was treading into rough terrain by highlighting African history and influence within Afro-Latina culture.
Her two-month trip to DR turned into a 10-year adventure of her confronting issues of colorism within her own culture. One day while she was at the beach sunbathing, two professors approached her and told her not to tan so much or else she’d get too dark.
When she told them that she didn’t mind tanning her brown skin, Contreras says she was told, “You talk about embracing Blackness, but you relax your hair,” she recalls.
The encounter, among others, inspired Contreras to launch the Miss Rizos brand that has grown into an official line of natural haircare products she hopes will represent her Dominican pride.
“I want people to be able to glide their hands through their hair with our products and to feel sort of this ease and joy around their curls,” Contreras said.