Rea Ann Silva, the founder and CEO of Beautyblender, visited Seton Hall virtually as part of the Joseph A. Unanue Latino Institute’s Distinguished Speaker Series on April 14 to discuss female entrepreneurship in the Latinx community.
Silva oversees a large cosmetic product enterprise which all started with her flagship creation—the Beautyblender sponge, a teardrop-shaped makeup sponge that has seen massive success in the makeup industry.
Silva spoke on her beginnings as a makeup artist in the entertainment industry, the challenges of her entrepreneurial journey and how her identity as a Latina has shaped her path to success and her business philosophy.
Silva said unique perspective has motivated her to value a diverse workforce and tell her story to those who can benefit from lessons she has learned during her career in the cosmetics industry.
Silva shared advice and lessons from years of experience as a successful business executive.
“A Latina CEO is far and few in between,” Elizabeth Rodriguez, the graduate assistant for the Joseph A. Unanue Latino Institute, said. “We wanted to hear her story as a Latina, how she overcame the obstacles that being Latina presented and the ultimate success that she has obtained.”
Ana Campoverde, the executive director of the Institute, said Silva went above and beyond expectations and was happy that students found the event to be insightful and inspiring.
The Distinguished Speaker Series draws on individuals from a diverse array of career fields and expertise, and Campoverde said she credits the Institute and its accomplishments as an asset to draw a range of high-quality guests.
“Anytime we reach out to someone, the first thing we let them know is that this Institute is dedicated to its students,” Campoverde said. “We have scholarships, we have programming opportunities and we have professional networking opportunities. I think that by itself very much resonates with the individuals we bring on campus.”
Silva described the ups and downs of her career, stressing the fact that her journey has not been a smooth ride to the top. She said regardless of industry, one’s path to success would likely be full of difficulty and unforeseen detours, but it is important to persist.
“Listen, the road to entrepreneurship is never just a straight line ascending up into success,” Silva said. “It’s a zigzag, and you’re going to have highs, and you’re going to have lows—don’t fear those lows. Take those lows and learn from them because that’s how you make your foundation stronger. Those are the experiences that teach you how to talk to the next people—whether it’s about financing or manufacturing, whatever your journey is.”
Silva also provided accounts of her success, but gave salient reminders to students, assuring them that setbacks should never be a reason to give up.
“One of the characteristics, I think, in entrepreneurship is you have to be brave and fearless,” Silva said. “You can’t be afraid to fail.”
Liam Brucker-Casey can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Editor’s note: Elizabeth Rodriguez was a former news staff writer for the Setonian