Episode 192: Emily Perez, Founder of Latinas In Beauty

I’m fortunate to have been able to get a moment to speak with the very busy Emily Perez, Director of Safety, Regulatory Claims, Micro Acquisition, and Integration at L’Oréal and the Founder of Latinas in Beauty. Oscillating between her many different jobs, Emily becomes a great example of how far your passions can take you.

Dan Hodgdon
AnnouncerWelcome to Where Brains Meet Beauty®, hosted by Jodi Katz, Founder and Creative Director of Base Beauty Creative Agency.
Jodi KatzHey everybody, it's Jodi Katz, your host of Where Brains Meet Beauty® podcast. This week's episode features Emily Perez. She's the Director of Safety, Regulatory Claims, Micro Acquisition, and Integration at L'Oreal. She's also the Women of Color Think Tank lead at L'Oreal, and she's a creator of The Latinas and Beauty Mentorship Group. This episode is in partnership with Beauty Connect. And if you miss last week's episode, it featured Robyn Watkins. She's the Founder and Chief Product Developer at The Holistic Beauty Group. Thanks for tuning in.
Carey ChanningHey Jodi. How are you doing today?
Jodi KatzHi, Carey. Great to see you.
Carey ChanningLikewise. Our guest today actually came to us through Beauty Connect. Could you just briefly tell our listeners what is Beauty Connect?
Jodi KatzThat's a great, great question. Okay. Beauty Connect is a global industry event series where they bring together entrepreneurs, thought leaders, brand owners. And what they love to do is introduce brands to investors so they can create growth opportunities.
Carey ChanningAnd we've been partnering with them for quite some time.
Jodi KatzYeah, this is kind of crazy. I mean, it's one of those things that I look back on. I'm like, how did this happen? The event used to be called Beauty and Money Summit. And I went to one, I can't remember. I think Elana Szyfer who was one of our guests a long time ago, introduced me to the event series. I think she was speaking there so she thought I would like it. I went, and I thought it was really cool. And I reached out to the organizers to see if we can partner together; collaborate, and they said, "Yes."
Jodi KatzNow, it's like four or maybe even five years. We create content and share news about the event series with our fans. And my team speaks at the events and attends the events. It's been this really lovely, great partnership.
Carey ChanningThat's amazing. And it all came from you just seeing if that was an opportunity?
Jodi KatzYeah, it was either Aleni or I, one of us asked. That's the crazy thing. Sometimes you just have to ask, and magic happens.
Carey ChanningThat is excellent advice for all things in life. This year it's in LA, huh? We have some of our team going.
Jodi KatzYep. Aleni and Shannon are going to go and our guests will be there, Emily and many other leaders in the industry. This will be the first live event for many of these people in a long time.
Carey ChanningThat's very, very exciting. And I believe we have a discount code for people signing up. Be on the lookout for that.
Jodi KatzYeah. I mean, if you join our emailing list you'll always get news like this. We're very casual in our emails, but we're sending really great information to our fans. It is a great event series. It's especially wonderful if you are starting a brand and want to understand the lay of the land when it comes to seeking investment. And of course, like incredible if you actually have a functioning brand that's proven itself in the marketplace and you want to have real serious conversations with serious investors.
Carey ChanningYou had an opportunity to speak with Emily before the event and learn all about her role in Latinas and Beauty. Anything you want to tease from the episode for our listeners?
Jodi KatzWell, you know, she's so ambitious, she has this incredibly cool job at L'Oreal, and then she takes it upon herself to build a community for people to give them opportunities and mentorship. And I mean, she's just a super inspiring lady.
Carey ChanningYes, and in our social, we're highlighting some of the brands that Emily mentioned that are part of Latinas and Beauty, so be sure to take a look there. Let's get into it. I want to hear all the amazing things Emily shared with you, and we will roll episode 192.
Jodi KatzHey, everybody. I'm so excited to welcome Emily Perez to the show.

Hi, Emily.
Emily PerezHi, Jodi.
Jodi KatzI'm excited to say your title. You are the Director of Safety, Regulatory Claims, Micro acquisition, and Integration at L'Oreal, and you are also the Woman of Color Think Tank lead. This is a big welcome to Where Brains Meet Beauty. That's the best title ever.
Emily PerezIt's a long one, but definitely, one that I thoroughly enjoy. I manage and head the acquisition and integration of L'Oreal brands composed of the compliance department, which is safety, regulatory claims, and micro.
Jodi KatzYeah. We're going to dive deep into what this job means and how you found your way to it. I do want to say that we were connected through the Beauty Connect Team because you'll be appearing at their event in LA in November. Right?
Emily PerezYes, I was able to connect with them through the Latinas and Beauty organization that I started, and it's a phenomenal partnership.
Jodi KatzThat's exciting. That's November 2nd and 3rd in LA, and it's the first time they're back in person in quite some time. Some team members of my team are going to be there, and you'll get to meet them there, and everyone will get to hear your wisdom at the show.
Emily PerezYeah. I'm excited.
Jodi KatzAll right. Let's go back, back, back in time, Emily, and when you're a little kid, like 11-years-old, what did you want to be when you grow up?
Emily PerezAround that time, I was born in Brazil. At that time, I wanted to be a teacher because all the women in my family were teachers. I was following their paths, and they loved teaching and being around kids. At that time, I wanted to be a teacher.
Jodi KatzAnd when did that dream change?
Emily PerezThat dream changed, and I moved it to the US. I was in the school system really trying to define what I wanted to do versus just going through what I had seen what my family members were doing. Really trying to discover what Emily really wanted. And at that time, it was still a confusing phase. But when it was time to decide where are you going to college, what's going to be a degree, and that pressure really set in, I was like, I want to go pursue being a Veterinarian. My bachelor's is in animal science because that's where my path had started.
Jodi KatzHow old were you when you moved to the US?
Emily PerezI was 10.
Jodi KatzThat's like a preteen. What do we call preteens these days? A tween?
Emily PerezI'd say it was very difficult. It was definitely one of those challenging times where you are maturing, you're developing, you're in that phase between being a child but yet still trying to be a grown-up.
Jodi KatzDo you remember what it was like on your first day of school in the US?
Emily PerezI do. I remember it vividly. My mom was very adamant that I attended just the English-speaking classes. But the program at that time you went to English is your second language. I went to a Spanish class where you learned English, but the thing is Brazilians, we speak Portuguese. Instead of learning English, I went home speaking Spanish.

My mom was like, no, no, no. We need her to start learning English, so they threw me into an English-speaking class only where kids at that age, instead of teaching me the language, they would teach me the bad words. I would go home speaking the bad words instead of the good ones. It was definitely a roller coaster of trying to navigate making friends, not knowing the language.

Math ended up being one of my favorite subjects because there's no language barrier there. But yeah, I remember that time and the kids that I grew up with after that and the impact that they had in that process and what the impact they had with me.
Jodi KatzI know a lot of people learn other languages through watching TV shows. Did you have a TV show that you watched to learn English?
Emily PerezI don't remember one. But I had a lot of friends that I would go over to their house and just be surrounded with them and with their families. It was one of those sink or swim situations. Right? You either figure out how to speak it, or you don't. And that's why I feel that I've lost my accent because I was speaking English a lot more than I was speaking Portuguese.
Jodi KatzYeah. I bet you could like write a great book of that experience of the tween experience of moving and having to learn a new language and make new friends.
Emily PerezYeah, and boys are brutal at that time. You know?
Jodi KatzYeah. Hopefully, now everyone's a little kinder to each other. We can hope that people have evolved.
Emily PerezI think so.
Jodi KatzWhy animal science?
Emily PerezI was challenged with trying to figure out ... For me, it was thinking outside the box. My mom is a mom of four. She was a single mom, so we really didn't have a lot. I was trying to figure out what could I do to get myself out of poverty that wasn't the standard jobs that I had exposure to. Because that's the one thing of being an immigrant myself and parents that have immigrated. We don't have exposure to the larger jobs or the different types of jobs.

Veterinarian was something, I guess, that I just had the exposure to. I loved animals. I loved the idea of caring for them, and that's what I decided to pursue. Luckily, for me I pursued it, but I'm here. I'm not a veterinarian.
Jodi KatzRight, right. That was my next question. Okay, so why aren't you a vet right now?
Emily PerezGoing through the program, I had to do a lot of internships and I had to work at the vet hospitals. Going through that process I was able to determine that the most difficult part for me was putting an animal down and really seeing that emotion when it came to the pet and the owner. It was something that gut feeling in you where I just can't do this for the rest of my life. That's what sticks vividly in my brain is those days where I had to be in the room with the vet going through that procedure. I was like, okay. My emotions overtake me in that process.

Everything else I was perfect with. That aspect of the job just really sat heavy with me. If I had to make that difficult decision of ... I love it, but I think that this is going to be very heavy for me and something that I can't see myself doing for the rest of my life. When you're in college you think your career and what you go to school for is what you do for the rest of your life. But what we all come to find out it really isn't. You can pivot.
Emily Perez
Jodi KatzThat's right. I was a government and law major.
Emily PerezOh, wow.
Jodi KatzYeah, and by the time I graduated, I didn't want anything to do with it. I knew it wasn't going to be right for me. We actually just brought home an animal. Our first real pet to our house. And now my daughter is the caretaker of a hedgehog.
Emily PerezOh, nice. Very exotic pet.
Jodi KatzYeah. It's super cute. It doesn't do a lot, but it's adorable and it curls up like a ball and that's the best. It's so cute. This is really new for us. We've never had a real pet. We had goldfish, but never a pet like this.
Emily PerezNo. Oh, that's awesome.
Jodi KatzOkay, so how did you take the degree in animal science and turn that into a non-animal science career?
Emily PerezYeah, so when it was time for me to graduate, I knew ... My degree in animal science is very similar to a bio degree, you just take some additional classes in animal science. I really didn't know what I wanted to do to be fully honest with you. I had no idea. I was graduating and trying to figure out what I wanted to do with myself and my now husband, then boyfriend at the time encouraged me to just be aware of what the roles were out there. If there was something that was of interest to me that I felt like my degree was qualified in and there was interest, to apply. Right? He was one of those very early on, many years ago, he was like apply. You don't have to qualify for 100% of the job. If you feel it's something that you'd be interested in, just apply. And that's what I did.

I had actually several companies reach out to me for some interviews. The one that really clicked, and I think it was a very interesting story is it was working for an animal health pharmaceutical company. Check the box. An animal health degree. That makes sense. I interviewed for a role. I ended up not getting that particular role, but what they did instead is they loved the interview and they actually created a new role within the department for me, which leveraged all my skillsets. My education, as well as my ability to speak Portuguese and Spanish. I started working on their Latin American division supporting registrations of their products in that region.

I was able to travel to Brazil, to Chile with them. I hit it out of the park with that one because it really did start my career into this space of the compliance world of our products in the US, which started my path to lead me to beauty.
Jodi KatzEmily, I want to spend a moment going back to what your future husband said to you, just go for it. I think it's really important to take a beat and recognize that we have self-doubt inside of us, and sometimes we need the people around us to push us. If you're like, "Oh, I'm not 100% perfect for the job description," you wouldn't have sent in your resume. Right?
Emily PerezRight. I have that conversation now with a lot of my girlfriends because that's still happening. We psych ourselves out, and I know there's data behind it that says women do it more than men, but they're like, oh, but I don't have this credential or that degree. But just apply, you never know what the outcome can be. And the worst-case scenario, it's a no, and you move on, and you find something else. But I think so many doors open when women just apply.
Jodi KatzYeah. As someone who does a lot of hiring, I love it when people reach out to me and say, "I saw that you have this job opening. I'm not 100% right for that role, but I want to introduce myself if X, Y, Z ever opens up." Right? And that really sets you apart from all the other people who are really unqualified for the job and they're just spamming you with resumes.

If there's a genuine interest in my agency and working at my business, send us a note, let us know that. Because you do never know. Today we're hiring for this job, but tomorrow we can be hiring for another one.
Emily PerezExactly, and you already have that person in mind. I think that's the key, too. And then that can increase like their network, as well.
Jodi KatzRight. And you know what? The other thing is, a lot of us in this industry are really great networkers. If this person is nice and smart and I don't have a role for them, I might have a friend in another company that's looking to fill a role. Right?
Emily PerezExactly.
Jodi KatzAnd I'm happy to share that. I think it's important to be not spammy with your resume, but to be really thoughtful and do real human outreach to the people who are hiring.
Emily PerezYeah. I agree with you.
Jodi KatzOkay. I want to go back because this is going to be so fun for me because I'm not in your side of the business, and I want to learn so much. Safety, regulatory, claims, micro acquisition, integration. Okay. Can we define the terms a little bit? I think it'd be great if you can tell us what each of those words mean.
Emily PerezYeah, at L'Oreal, that is one department that encompasses all those individual groups. Safety is really ensuring the safety of the products that we sell. Regulatory, we have regulatory bodies both in the US and international that govern our products. Whether it be at the federal level or at the state level, that group covers that function.

Claims, when I used to be specifically in the claims team, and every time I mentioned that I'm in claims, a lot of people don't understand that this role exists within organizations. That group is really ensuring that the advertising and communication that the brands are putting out are validated via either literature or studies to back them up. And micro is really ensuring the micro components of the products are safe for you to use, and it's stable.
Jodi KatzOkay, so you do all that for when L'Oreal buys businesses and brings them into the corporate structure?
Emily PerezCorrect. Yeah, so when they're interested in acquiring a brand, this group that I oversee, we review the brand portfolio for the merchants and acquisition team. Then once L'Oreal decides to purchase it, we work on integrating them into the L'Oreal portfolio.
Jodi KatzYou get to do a due diligence before a deal is even done?
Emily PerezExactly, yeah.
Jodi KatzYou guys are on the down-low, or am I even saying this right? Of what's happening at L'Oreal in terms of acquisitions?
Emily PerezYeah. They give me just enough information, but they still keep it pretty tight.
Jodi KatzWell, you have to know what brands. Right?
Emily PerezI know what brands they're looking at, but once that information is sent to them I never really know if they go through with it until it's public.
Jodi KatzRight. Okay, but that's a pretty cool place to be. Then are you working with the brand then once it has been acquired to make sure that everything is moving in the direction that's a L'Oreal way?
Emily PerezYeah, so we work collectively, cross-functionally with all the functions between the labs, the marketing team, our specific group to really just have that starting conversations and building the support for them and continuing any new products that they want to put out and just have that dialogue.
Jodi KatzIt's interesting, all these different parts of this one department because it says to me that you have a lot of different types of disciplines as experts within your team.
Emily PerezYes.
Jodi KatzIs it lawyers, scientists? What type of expertise is in your department?
Emily PerezThe claims team is a mix between scientists and lawyers within the SRCM team. And then obviously, we have the legal team at L'Oreal that oversees that function.
Jodi KatzIf somebody loves being a lawyer but doesn't want to actually be a lawyer the way I see on TV, there are other places for them to find success.
Emily PerezOh, yeah. In-house in the lawyer world is where they love to be.
Jodi KatzThat's so cool. Okay, so can we spend time talking about the Women of Color Think Tank? Tell me all about it.
Emily PerezL'Oreal has the diversity and inclusion team and within that group, they have different types of think tanks. And the one that I support is the Women of Color Think Tank that they started about in 2017. I am a lead in their employee subcommittee, so we're focused on the employee experience on retaining and advancing, and recruiting.
Jodi KatzWhat kind of work do you do as the lead?
Emily PerezAs the lead, we support what our members are looking for. We have meetings, general membership meetings throughout the year where we really come together to showcase what's going on. But then we also do a lot of education and that's very important to us for the heritage month throughout the year. We start with Black History Month in February, and we celebrate and educate all of them. We're coming up with Hispanic Heritage Month on September 15th. We do a lot of events, not only from the employee experience but then also understanding our consumer and who they are and how we communicate to them, as well. But then we also do an out of networking, visibility, mentorships, sponsorship events for our employees, so you have that feeling of belonging.
Jodi KatzAs the think tank, you have your team members who join. Is that a place where they can talk honestly about how a corporation could better support or create more room for growth for women of color?
Emily PerezOh, definitely. Yeah. The community that we've built is really one that's very open where we've been able to create a very safe space where people can come in, whether it be within our meetings, we utilize teams a lot. Chats and things like that, where everybody can share genuinely what they're going through and how can we support the organization on becoming an inclusive place. They already are, but how can we support our members at L'Oreal USA we're across the nation. Right?

We're in a lot of places, and that's one of the things that we've been able to leverage the fact that we've gone virtual and our membership has increased because a lot of our content now are virtual. We've been able to network with people in Arizona and California, really all over in Puerto Rico. It's amazing.
Jodi KatzI'm curious if you've noticed any shift in the more junior people who are your members with their comfort being vocal and honest through the years. Because it's easy for someone who's in a leadership position to say what they need. Well, not easy. Sometimes it's easier for someone in a leadership position to speak up for themselves. But what about the junior people?
Emily PerezOh, no, I've definitely seen them. I think sometimes it takes a little bit of attending one or two to kind of understand and pick up on the environment to really be able to feel comfortable, but they do find their voice and they are vocal, and they're all taken equally. Everybody that is voicing a concern it's valid and we listen to it. The Chief Diversity Officer is highly involved and is open to having these conversations and listening. And I think that that's the most important part is really being able to listen.
Jodi KatzAll right, so now I want to learn more about Latinas and Beauty because you're very busy. Right? You don't just have your day job, but you're the lead at L'Oreal, and you're part of the Latinas and Beauty Organization, so tell me about that.
Emily PerezYeah, so Latinas and Beauty really started from me just really being involved a lot in women of color. And through understanding the experience of a Latina and women of color in general in corporate America, I really felt that there was this space, this white space where Latinas really were having a hard time knowing where Latinas were within a lot of the beauty organizations, what the brands were. Really it was an opportunity for me to create a community where we can come together to network to kind of get to know one another, to really be able to celebrate and elevate the Latina community, and it's been great.

I've been able to see a lot of the Indie Latina brands really in the past year thrive with taking advantage of the wave of the e-commerce being the women in general, buying things more online, seeing how successful they've become, and launching new brands.
Jodi KatzYou know what we'll do after our recording? I'll ask you to email me some of the brands that you want to give a shout-out to, and we'll post them on our stories on Instagram.
Emily PerezOkay.
Jodi KatzAnd LinkedIn. Yeah, so we can give a shout-out to the many brands who your guests support through Latinas and Beauty.
Emily PerezOh, that's awesome.
Jodi KatzHow do you make time for all of this, Emily?
Emily PerezI definitely had to learn how to be organized before I was really dividing my time. I'm also a mom of two boys. I separate a lot of my Latinas and Beauty is really time that I spend on the weekends really putting together any content there and speaking with the founders and the women that are in beauty in the afternoons. When I'm at work, my 9:00 to 5:00, that's time dedicated to that, so I squeeze it all in. I don't know how, but I think it's all fueled through passion. I think when you're passionate about something that really drives you and for me, what drives me for Latinas and Beauty, in particular, is I want to see others succeed. I've been fortunate enough to create a network that has benefited me really well within the beauty industry that I just want to share. At the end of the day, there's room for all of us, and if I can help at least one individual get either in the door or be connected with somebody to get a promotion or another job within the industry, that's what fuels me.
Jodi KatzI love it. Okay, you're going to be going on an airplane to a work event in November for Beauty Connect. Is this the first time you're doing that in many, many months?
Emily PerezYes, yes. I have not traveled outside of New Jersey. I lost count on how many months it's been since. Well, it all started March, 2020.
Jodi KatzYeah, so what kind of feelings are you having? Are you excited to be at a conference with real people in real life?
Emily PerezI'm excited because I'm fueled by other people's energies and that's where I thrive. But it also is scary because I have two kids at home. They're unvaccinated. I think in general just what's happening with a lot of the variants and things like that you just never know. But just being very cautious.
Jodi KatzYeah. We were just on vacation. We flew for the first time in a while and we double-masked. You know? I just felt like well, what else can I do? And then when we were traveling, my daughter's too young to be vaccinated. We just made a point of if one of us is unvaccinated we all need to act like we're unvaccinated. Right?
Emily PerezRight. Yeah.
Jodi KatzIt takes a little bit more work to make it happen, but I'm excited for you and my team members to be at the Beauty Connect event. Those are always so fun. Get to meet so many people. And it's so cool that there's a partnership between Beauty Connect and Latinas and Beauty.
Emily PerezYeah, very early on when I started Latinas and Beauty, I was able to get connected with them through another Latina in Beauty. She connected me and they really see the value in supporting women of color and their conferences are so beneficial to our founders and in our partnership, a lot of our founders have been able to attend their virtual events and they provide great feedback that it's amazing and the content is exactly what they need. Because for the smaller ones, even though when you think about it, the value to attend is not significant, but to them it is. Because every dollar counts that they're spending. It's going to building their brand. Just having that opportunity, it's invaluable.
Jodi KatzYeah, and to be able to connect with people that would be harder to reach in a normal day and build a network and hear from experts. I think the power of these events is in the networking. In the connecting. Obviously, you can't meet everybody there. You can then take the chance afterwards to LinkedIn people and say, "Sorry, I missed you at the event. Do you have time to talk?" And a lot of people will say yes.
Emily PerezYeah, that's your way in. It gives you that opportunity to send that email out and start this conversation. The networking in itself is worth its value.
Jodi KatzWell, Emily, I'm so grateful that we were connected through Beauty Connect. They've been great partners for my podcast, too. I mean, my podcast is going to be five years old in January and we've been partnering with them for a really long time. They've been here with us in the beginning and it's so great that you get to bring Latina and Beauty team members from your organization to these events. I'm excited for what you're going to be speaking about. Will you be speaking about claims and regulatory?
Emily PerezWe're still trying to fine tune that.
Jodi KatzI love claims. I think it's a good topic.
Emily PerezYeah, no claims is. It's where my heart is. It's one that really you have to be very creative, but yet figure out how to do it. And I love this conversation with the marketing team and the lab. It's just very interesting.
Jodi KatzYeah. I mean, in beauty I would imagine the same in pet health. The claims that you're able to develop is what's going to lead to either success or the consumer not even paying attention.
Emily PerezExactly.
Jodi KatzYou have to be honest and creative at the same time, which is really cool. Well, Emily, thank you so much for sharing your wisdom with our listeners. I'm so grateful that we got to meet through this podcast.
Emily PerezThank you for having me. It was a pleasure.
Jodi KatzAnd for our listeners, I hope you enjoyed this interview. Please subscribe to our series on iTunes and for updates about the show follow us on Instagram @WhereBrainsMeetBeautypodcast.
AnnouncerThanks for listening to Where Brains Meet Beauty® with Jodi Katz. Tune in again for more authentic conversations with beauty leaders.

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