A nostalgic journey down the ancestral tree is what inspired Giovanna Campagna to launch her brand, Joaquina Botanica. Made with exotic ingredients such as the Colombian orchid, camu camu, cacay, sacha inchi, and papaya, botanicals indigenous to the South American continent, Joaquina Botanica is paving the way for the future of Latin clean beauty.
We recently sat down with Giovanna to learn more about the inspiration behind the brand, the challenges she faced along the way, and how she finds that perfect balance of work, self-care, and motherhood.
You’ve always been involved in fashion, where you’ve had a very successful career working at Vogue, W Magazine, and, later, supporting Latin American design as the co-founder of Creo Consulting. What made you branch out into clean beauty? What was the inspiration behind Joaquina Botanica and how has the journey been so far?
My years in fashion definitely led me to this path – though I never would have predicted it. It was through my experience introducing Latin American fashion brands to the global market that I realized that there was also a true lack of brands speaking to the region in beauty. You see French, German, Indian, Korean beauty brands all the time… but very few with Latin American roots, except Brazil. It became so clear to me that someone had to create this, and I never looked back. I had been gravitating more and more towards clean beauty and wellness in my personal life, so I was excited to explore how I could create products myself.
The great inspiration behind Joaquina is, of course, my Colombian roots! I am half Colombian from my mother’s side, and although I grew up in New York, I have always been deeply connected to my family there. The brand is named after my great-great grandmother who opened one of the first apothecaries in Cali, Colombia in 1875. After a career in fashion, I’ve ironically come full circle into the once family business of personal care!
Latin women are well known for their beauty and the care they put into their appearances. I have always found it curious that there are so few skincare and wellness luxury brands emerging from the continent, especially considering the ancient cultural knowledge and the amazing diversity of exotic plant life that you find within the Latin American landscape. Why do you think it has taken so long for the emergence of the Latin beauty movement ? How are you keeping true to your heritage and what are some of the key elements that separate your brand from the rest?
Exactly – what you’re saying is what inspired me to do this. I think the Latin beauty moment has been delayed because of the same conditions we’ve experienced in fashion. Everything European and American has traditionally been seen as aspirational and luxury, while it has been difficult for other cultures compete. Even in Colombia, you see beauty or hair care brands with French sounding names because that is somehow perceived to be superior. But there is so much knowledge, so many beauty practices, and incredible ingredients from Latin America to draw from.
Latin America is the most biodiverse region in the world, making it an endless resource for natural ingredients. And, like you said, arguably no one knows – or cares – more about beauty than Latin women. They unapologetically take pride in maintaining their skin, hair, and nails, and truly find joy in it. They embrace and celebrate what makes them uniquely beautiful. I think that spirit is what makes Latin women seem youthful at every age.
I set out to research the region’s ingredients, beauty traditions, medicinal practices, and found the world’s best chemists in clean beauty to partner with. I wanted each product to share Latin America’s incredible botanical beauty and traditions. For example, our Orquídea + Vitamin C Hydrating Glow Oil is a blend of super potent botanicals from Latin America – like Camu Camu, Cacay, Sacha Inchi, Maracuya. Many of these have been used medicinally for thousands of years. It is also inspired by our cultural love of orchids and how we regard them as a symbol of beauty. With a boost of Bakuchiol, a natural retinol alternative, it also incorporates cutting edge clinical ingredients. Our Calendula + Peptides Hydrating Essence, on the other hand, is inspired by the Colombian beauty tradition of using rose and calendula waters. I wanted to create a supercharged version of this and paired those ingredients with clinical actives, like Hyaluronic Acid, Sacha Inchi Peptides, and Glycerin.
Another way we strive to bring an authentic vision to life is by working with Colombian and Latin photographers, graphic designers, and models. Iconic photographer Anita Calero has been a great mentor to me – I’m so grateful that she has shot some of incredible images of the products in her studio in Cali. And Andrea Swarz, who has worked with many of the top Colombian fashion brands, has done beautiful lifestyle campaigns with Cali-based models. I knew I wanted to create opportunities for Colombian creatives to apply their talent to beauty.
I am proud to say that we are the first luxury clean skincare brand to do this, and help prove that Latin-rooted beauty is as luxurious and efficacious as it gets. It has been wonderful to see such a positive reception to our brand in the U.S. so far!
What we put on our body is as important as what we put inside of it. Together with clean nutrition we have seen a great surge in clean beauty worldwide. What does clean beauty movement mean to you? How do you approach sustainability with Joaquina Botanica?
To me, “Clean” means safe for you and for the planet. We know that clean beauty can be truly effective when done right, so we don’t compromise and develop each results-driven formulas with the leading chemists in the field. We have banned over 2,700 ingredients from our products, while most States in the USA have banned only 35, and Europe has banned 1,300. They are also Vegan and Cruelty-Free.
While we are proud to be “Clean,” we are not about fueling fear of ingredients. Rather than focusing on what is not in our formulas, we want to celebrate the beautiful, efficacious ingredients that are in them and to share wonders they do for your skin!
We’ve incorporated sustainability into our DNA, as it truly goes hand in hand with Clean values. I chose to package our products in recyclable glass (even though it is more expensive and complicated to design) and cartons printed with environmentally-friendly vegetable-based ink. Our shipping boxes and tape are recyclable, derived from recycled material, and scaled to be as minimal as possible. And our formulas never include harmful toxins that cause damage when released into the environment.
In a fast paced world we inhabit, what specific solution do you want your brand to offer to the modern woman?
I think a multi-tasking product is always appreciated. Each of our formulas is designed to address various skin concerns and can be used in a variety of ways. Our Hydrating Glow Oil offers a holistic moisturizing, antiaging, and brightening treatment through its combination superfruits, Vitamin C, and retinol-alternative Bakuchiol. It has the perfect midweight texture that allows you to use it as a step in your routine, or as a primer before makeup and SPF. A few drops make your concealer and SPF blend right in with a smooth application and dewy finish.
Our Hydrating Essence can also be used as a key step in your routine, or as an instantly refreshing mist. It has antioxidants that protect and brighten, humectants that instantly plump, and peptides that firm, smooth, and target lines and wrinkles. I apply it after cleansing, which allows its ingredients to sink in and prep the skin to absorb following serums and oils. Then I’ll reapply it throughout the day over my makeup to wake up my skin with instant glow.
Oftentimes, we get so lost in our daily tasks forgetting to take care of ourselves. The pandemic, ironically, has helped us become more introspective, but will it last? How do you take care of yourself? What is your daily skincare & wellness routine? How do find balance with your inner and outer well being?
I have truly appreciated many of the lifestyle changes COVID brought about. I have definitely slowed down. I make fewer social plans, work primarily from home, cook at home more with my family, and save a lot of time and money as a result! When I look back, I can’t believe how I used to fill my days in Manhattan with 5 meetings and appointments all over the island! We were so used to that frenetic schedule and accepted it as a given. Now, I am much more selective about plans, and try to schedule in-person meetings within walking distance from home whenever possible! I plan to maintain this slower, more mindful lifestyle as much as possible.
I have a lot on my plate these days, and stay balanced with the help of many tools! I meditate twice a day for 20 minutes, and exercise 3 times a week. I love taking very hot epsom salt baths 2-3 times a week to unwind and detox, and whenever I need to ground myself in the present moment, I go for a simple walk outdoors. I have also started taking a supplement from wellness brand Moon Juice called Super You every day. It has adaptogenics that elevate your mood, improve focus, and reduce anxiety. Calling on one of these “tools” never fails when I am feeling overwhelmed!
I love having a skincare routine as it becomes a moment for self-care and ritual. At night, I wash my face with One Love Organics Vitamin B cleansing oil. I don’t usually cleanse in the morning, as I like to let what I’ve used the night before keep working. I apply a few mists of our Joaquina Botánica Calendula + Peptides Hydrating Essence first, to infuse the skin with water-based hydration, firm, and smooth. Then use my Joaquina Botánica Orquídea + Vitamin C Hydrating Glow Oil as my all-in-one moisturizer and treatment serum. I designed the formula to be super hydrating but light enough to be worn at any time of day without feeling greasy. In the morning, I mix it with my SPF for a nice dewy feel (it helps to avoid that matte effect SPF can have). I wear SPF religiously every day, even when staying indoors. About 3x a week I exfoliate with the GOOP Instant Facial, which I feel is crucial to keeping my skin soft and renewed.
Congratulations on being a new mom! I myself have two girls that are on a brink of adolescence and have had to juggle family and work for a long time. How has motherhood changed your priorities and what challenges have you had to tackle so far? What inspiration do you find in motherhood?
I didn’t realize until I became a mother how one can really feel totally drained and profoundly happy at the same time. But that perfectly sums up the past year with a new baby and business! I was developing the brand while pregnant with my daughter, and launched when she was 8 months old.
The main challenge is that I always feel torn between work and spending time with my daughter, Letizia. As you can probably relate, I usually either feel guilty for working too much and not being with her enough, or for the opposite! But what keeps me going is knowing that I want to be an example to her and show her through my own journey that she can work, build a successful career, and have a family. I think that kids don’t do as you say – they do as you do. So it’s important that I show her how to be productive, responsible, and resilient.
I have been pleasantly surprised at how motherhood has deepened many of my friendships, and also led me to make new friendships. I have become close with many lovely mothers that I met through “New Mom” support groups and Letizia’s activities. She has really opened up my world to a new chapter and new community.
What products mix well with Joaquina Botanica? Any special recommendations for different skin types or lifestyles?
What I love about our first products is that they can be easily added into your existing routine and help boost its effects. The Essence is the perfect step for prepping your skin for serums and creams, as they help enhance their absorption. If you are someone who loves creams, you can use the Oil over them to help lock in their benefits.
For example, if you use retinol I would recommend: 1. Cleanse 2. Prep with Hydrating Essence 3. Apply Retinol 4. Seal it in with the Hydrating Glow Oil
Our current duo is also ideal for all skin types. I wanted the Hydrating Essence to be something you could easily gift to a friend, as who doesn’t love a refreshing mist! And while there is a misconception that oils are not optimal for oily skin, in the case of our oil it’s not true. Many of the active ingredients in our Hydrating Glow Oil, such as Cacay, Maracuya, and Bakuchiol, are clinically proven to help to target acne and reduce & regulate the skin’s production of oil.
Some common skincare mistakes that you come across? Quick fixes and long term solutions?
One of the most common skincare mistakes is only wearing SPF when you think you’ll be outdoors. I use it even when I’m just at my desk! Daylight that comes through the window can even cause damage after time. I think a lot of people have trouble finding an SPF that doesn’t feel heavy. A quick fix I would recommend is adding a few drops of our Hydrating Glow Oil to your SPF – it makes it melt right into your skin. I would also say that SPF is also the best long term solution out there for aging.
Product layering is something that can be done incorrectly. For example, it’s important to apply face oils as the last step in your routine, as they are best at sealing everything in. Water-based products can’t penetrate oil, so you have to apply serums and cream moisturizers first. Oils will help to lock in that moisture for longer.
A few quick questions to wrap it up:
First thing that you do when you wake up?
I recite positive affirmations and meditate for 20 minutes.
Wouldn’t leave your home without?
Favorite skincare product from another brand?
The tinted lip balm I take everywhere, by a beautiful brand called Linné Botanicals !
A must visit place in Latin America?
Cali, Colombia where my mother is from!
Favorite book or inspirational piece of art?
If you’re at all interested in beauty, you’ll enjoy Leonard Lauder’s memoir about building Estée Lauder – The Company I Keep.
Drink of choice?
Coffee with oat milk all day, and a margarita at night.
A go to recipe?
I have been loving this vegan Avocado Chocolate Mousse recipe this Summer.
Preferred form of exercise?
Weight training is the only thing that ever made a difference for me in building tone. The heavier the better!
A clothing item you have on rotation?
An oversized white linen shirt dress. It’s perfect for the city or the beach.
Latin brands you frequently use?
Mola SASA, Pink Filosofy, and Verdi.
Latin brands you’re curious about?
Leal Daccaratt and Alexandra Bueno.