When Julissa Prado, 27, was growing up in Los Angeles, she struggled to find hair products specifically designed to style her hair type. The daughter of Mexican immigrants was often forced to straighten her hair on an ironing board and often times resorted to “crazy quinceñera updos” for family events. (How many of us can relate to that last part? ??)
As a result of this frustration, the savvy entrepreneur created a hair product line called Rizos Curls that spoke directly to the experiences of Latinas, like those in her family, who were often forced to comply with Eurocentric standards of beauty.
For Julissa Prado, the creator of Rizos Curls, the product is than just a hair product. It’s a reflection of her parents’ hustle and how it sometimes takes a while for us Latinas to embrace our roots.
Her entrepreneurial spirit, she says, is a testament to the commitment of Latinx immigrants, who, like her parents, sacrificed everything for their children to succeed in the United States.
“I was born and raised in mid-city L.A. and most family is still here. We grew up in black and brown neighborhoods and my family was walking distance from one another and I had access to a rich Latino culture. Growing up, my family always had really wavy and curly hair but most of them straightened it. We didn’t wear it naturally. Getting your hair done in my family meant that you had to straightened it and do a crazy quinceañera updo, you know?”
Because Prado didn’t see women with curly hair represented in mainstream media or as a beauty ideal, she found herself going to the extreme to conform to Eurocentric beauty standards.
“The first time I got my hair done, my cousins put my head over an ironing board and ironed it straight. Because before the flat iron that’s what you had to do. I had straight hair and I was walking around like I was the shit. I had so many compliments because that’s all I saw I magazines. There was nothing for curly hair in my community. It clearly wasn’t for us.”
Then Prado had an epiphany. She was inspired by her community’s hustle to create a product that would help women like her embrace their natural hair texture.
Latinos are some of the most entrepreneurial people out there! It doesn't matter if they are rich or poor, Latinos find a way to be their own boss. If there isn't a job available my people will find a creative way to make one. Whether it is by selling corn, tacos, fruit, their labor, whatever it is they're out there hustling! Latinos are hands down one of the most hardworking and entrepreneurial people out there. It's time for the Latino community to start receiving the respect they deserve. To that corn man, flower lady, that fruit vendor THANK YOU for being my role models of what it means to be a businessperson. It is truly an honor to be Latina and have grown up in this community. ✊?? ——————————————– Mi gente Latina es increíblemente negociante. No importa si tienen poquito o mucho, mi gente Latina encuentra un modo de ser su propio jefe. Si no hay un trabajo disponible, toman la iniciativa de crearlo. Aunque sea como eloteros, taqueros, vendiendo fruta, lo que sea! La comunidad Latina es en mi opinión la más trabajadora y creativa para negociós. Es tiempo que el resto del mundo nos de el respeto que nuestra comunidad merece. Para todos los eloteros, vendedores de fruta, mi gente Latina trabajadora, Muchísimas gracias por ser mi ejemplo donde aprendí lo que significa ser empresarios. Que orgullo ser Latina ✊?✊?? #defendtheelotero #eloterojustice
She explains this drive in this Instagram post: “My inspiration was seeing the pupusa lady hustling, the elote man, the raspado man, and the flower lady who were hustling in the streets. They are the CEO’s of their businesses and they were in my community hustling. People were always working hard and I loved being able to see that.”
But she also credits her “brown ass family” for inspiration.
“I’m brown and I got a brown ass family and we have very diverse hair from wavy to kinky. I made this product for anyone with curly hair.”
Prado adds that she “wanted to create something that would fill this need that would address the need that so many of my family members had.” She recognizes that Latinos have all types of hair and there isn’t one-product-fits-all. The one thing she kept in mind throughout the process of the creation of her product, Prado says, was her community and that’s why Rizos curls is here.
And going beyond hair, this venture for her is about inspiring other Latinas the way she was once inspired by another woman.
“I hope to provide more visibility and awareness that we’re out here. Growing up there wasn’t that many examples of Latinas outside of the entertainment industry. I met someone who went to college and I felt like I could go to college. I’m trying to broaden the arena for future role models. There’s a lot of examples of Latinas following their dreams and if someone can look at my story and feel motivated regardless if they haven’t seen anyone else do it, that’s beautiful to me.”
While her business is still in its early stages, she’s already received support from celebrities like rapper Bia and singer Natalie La Rose.
“It feels cool to see different people recommend the product. When I was thinking if Rizos was feasible I thought about myself, and thought: I’m Latina, I love to dance, I love to turn up, and I’m chismosa. We have a culture of helping each other out. We grew up in a society where we had to make our own paths. We’re chismosas and even the Avon ladies come to your house and everything is word of mouth. I’m just so happy and blessed that people have liked the product and have been telling their moms about it and have been sharing it about it on social media.”
But don’t take the word of the rich and famous. Prado has receipts for days from regular people who thank her on the daily for creating a product designed specifically for them.
Because Prado and her primas can’t be the only ones who have been looking for products for curly hair, right? She’s screenshotted and posted dozens of testimonies from her clients on her Instagram account.
And now, Rizos Curls has made its way to
bougie fancy Beverly Hills salons.
Guess what?!!!! Rizos Curls is now available at a salon for the first time ever!! Check us out at @maurohairstudio at 421 N Rodeo Dr. Beverly Hills. The owner Carol in the pic w me is a super cool Latina entrepreneur that is all about female empowerment! Please tag me in a pic if you go and say hello to Carol! ??????
Damn! From mamá’s garage in Mid-City to Rodeo Drive?! Mamá, we made it!
Ultimately Prado’s biggest fans are her family, those who act as her team members and even guinea pigs when needed.
“My family is my motivation and they are the guinea pigs for all the hair products,” says Prado as she laughs. But jokes and experiments aside, her family members have stepped up and offered their talents to make sure Prado’s product lives up to its potential. Prado explains that her little cousin drew the logo, her primas modeled for her site and her mom lent her house for product storage.
“Family is everything,” says Prado. And with support like that, it’s easy to see this brand going beyond Beverly Hills.