I met Giovanna Campagna over Instagram (is there any other way to meet people nowadays? – asking for a friend! haha!) – because I’m always searching for Latin American female entrepreneurs to connect with – especially when they share a similar love for the culture of travel.
Giovanna is the founder of the new clean beauty brand Joaquina Botanica. She was inspired by her Colombian heritage and deep desire to shed light on the incredible and powerful ingredients harvested in Latin America, one of the world’s most biodiverse regions.
Today we are deep diving with Giovanna on why she’s making it her mission to source ingredients from Latin America, tips on how we can experience Colombia from home, and her favorite travel essentials!
1. What inspired you to launch Joaquina Botanica?
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 roots. I am lucky to have a large extended family in Cali, so we visited frequently and always felt at home there. I came to beauty after nearly 10 years of working in fashion. I started out working in magazines but eventually felt pulled to do something that would bring me back to my roots. In 2014, I launched a consulting practice dedicated to discovering Latin American fashion talent and helping expand their brands into the global market.
Through this experience, I realized that there was also a real absence of Latin voices in the realm of beauty. I wondered, why are there virtually no beauty brands speaking to Colombia? You see French, Italian, Indian, Korean, Australian brands ….but very few from Latin America, except Brazil.
I knew that Latin American is the most biodiverse region in the world, making it an endless resource for cosmetic ingredients. And from the childhood lessons I learned from my mother and grandmother to the tricks I garnered from talented Latin makeup artists and hairstylists, I knew the emphasis Latin culture has on beauty and how much it has to offer.
So 3 years ago, I set out to research ingredients and find the best chemists in clean beauty to partner with. I wanted to create a brand that would share Latin American’s incredible natural ingredients and deep-rooted beauty philosophies with the world.
2. In what ways are we reminded of Colombia through your brand?
I think that just upon looking at our brand, you get a sense of the warmth and vibrance of the country. Our brand color is a bold papaya hue. It always reminds me of the exotic fruits you encounter there, the deep sunsets, and the colors of the Old City of Cartagena. It also is a color that just radiates warmth and optimism – and I would say that on the whole, Colombians are truly warm, vibrant, and filled with joy.
3. We love that some of our ingredients are sourced in Latin America, in what countries exactly?
We source ingredients from various countries in the region – Colombia, Peru, Ecuador, Brazil to name a few. One of our core ingredients is Cacay, which is harvested in Colombia. I fell in love with it because beyond being of the highest natural sources of Vitamin A and E (anti aging musts!), it is cultivated in a beautiful and sustainable way. Our supplier has reforested extensive areas of land in Colombian Amazon through its cultivation, while creating employment for at-risk indigenous communities in the country’s remote conflict zones.
Another one of our key ingredients in Sacha Inchi, an Amazonian super fruit from Peru. It has been harvest for over 3,000 years for its medicinal properties, for its scary-healing benefits, and its ability to deeply nourish skin, hair, and nails. Its among the best plant of sources of omegas – your hydrating, nourishing, and replenishing vitamins.
4. In what ways do you hope Joaquina Botanica inspires people to discover Latin America?
I hope that it makes people aware of the rich beauty and wellness culture that is ingrained in Latin culture. For so long, European and American beauty brand traditions have dominated, but I hope we can help to show that Latin rooted beauty is just as luxurious, authoritative, and profound.
5. What is an under the radar destination in Colombia that you recommend people to discover?
San Andres is a beautiful island that I think most travelers don’t visit on the usual “circuit”. Many of my friends and colleagues who live in Cali go there frequently for weekends, and just adore it – it’s a real paradise.
6. In what ways can people immerse themselves in Colombian culture at home?
I would say that our Joaquina products bring a bit of Colombia to your home. The Orquidea + Vitamin C Hydrating Glow Oil and Calendula + Peptides Hydrating Essence capture Colombian beauty philosophies. Orchid is the national flower and a symbol of beauty. Our Essence is a supercharged version of the traditional beauty practice of using floral infusions for their anti aging, calming, and hydrating properties.
When you feel like curling up with a book, I would recommend reading Gabriel Garcia Marquez – 100 years of Solitude or Love In The Time of Cholera. The latter will take you right to Cartagena.
Finally, there’s no denying that music is a huge way to instantly connect to Colombian culture. J. Balvin, from Medellin, is one of the most streamed artists in the world today! And then you have Shakira playing at the Super Bowl – watching her perform traditional Colombian dances for the world was an event that Colombians will never forget.
7. Can you share your Colombian dish and recipe?
Arepas are my go-to treat for breakfast. If I’m feeling more ambitious, I would cook Ajiaco – a delicious traditional soup from Bogota. I found this easy to share recipe for Ajiaco – and my mother reviewed it to approve that’s on point!
8. There are so many places in Colombia to visit and love, what kind of traveler would go to:
Bogota – The person who wants culture, commerce, and to party at the legendary restaurant, Andres Carne de Res
Cartagena – The person who wants sun, sea, romantic, nightlife, and delicious restaurants.
Cali – Those who love nature and dancing – Cali is the capital of sugarcane and Salsa!
Medellin – Those who will enjoy museums, beautiful urban planning, and the city’s stunning Jardin Botanico (Botanical Garden)
Destinations on your travel bucket list?
Whale watching on the pacific coast of Colombia!
Name a Recuerdo (souvenir) that you brought back from a destination you’ve traveled to and that holds a lot of meaning to you.
My woven mochila bags from Colombia. They are the perfect beach bag, but I also use them in New York every day – even in the Fall and Winter!
Favorite hotel property?
Las Islas in Baru, off the coast of Cartagena.