Words by Renee Nuevo
Photos by Jan Mayo
Creative Direction by Meg Manzano
It’s hard to imagine how different the beauty scene in the country was just ten years ago.
The options were limited: on the shelves, you’ll only find global beauty giants with an intimidating number of shades, and a handful of small other brands in between. None particularly appealed to the evolving sensibilities of Filipinas who wanted premium-quality products that combined skincare and makeup at a time when the beauty landscape all over the world was changing.
Jacqe Yuengtian-Gutierrez, the woman behind Happy Skin and BLK Cosmetics, saw this as the perfect opportunity, and dove right in.
After ten years working at a multinational company best known for its skincare, haircare, and beauty products, Jacqe began pitching Happy Skin to local retailers. But it was difficult for them to understand or even see her vision. “Ten years ago,” Jacqe says, “no one really thought that a local makeup brand was possible.” Thankfully, the world of beauty and business was hers, and she knew what to do to make it possible.
Most importantly, she wanted it to be a local product made for Filipinas. “We know our skin better, we know our weather better, we know what we need better,” she says.
Another challenge Jacqe encountered back then were the existing biases consumers had about locally-made products. “Totoo, I feel offended when they say, “Panget ‘yung formula,” or “Panget ‘yung packaging,’” Jacqe admits. “Totoo. I personally feel offended na, ‘What? Wait, kailangan nating aralin, tingnan.’”
“I really get challenged because I don’t like it when people say, ‘Oh yeah, kasi local brand siya eh, so ganyan lang ‘yung packaging niya.’ May ganung mentality. Ten years ago, it was crazy bad. Talagang merong global mentality. If it’s a local brand, it’s cheap.”
And that was the kind of thinking that Jacqe wanted to change. In creating her products, she made sure that they were always of pitch-perfect, topnotch quality. “It’s my pride and joy to be able to give pride and joy to the Philippines. To be able to give Filipinas something to be proud about,” Jacqe continues. “I want to be able to provide jobs. ‘Yun, proud ako. I always tell my parents na, ‘Ganito na kalaki ‘yung team namin…’ So imagine mo, so many people relying on you and really making a living out of what you created.”
Developing and launching Happy Skin was a challenge in and of itself, but five years later, when she founded BLK Cosmetics, the ride was much smoother. Because of the way Happy Skin revolutionized the market, more and more local beauty brands were born, and BLK’s own entrance to the industry was warmly welcomed.
“I’m super proud to say that I felt like we opened that market. We opened the possibility,” Jacqe says. Since then, Jacqe has met many beauty entrepreneurs who have told her how much her brand has inspired them to start their own.
Her business savvy is always at the forefront of her work, too. From admitting to being “crazy hands-on” with all of her brands (she also handles Seoul White Korea and has another business in the works) to backing up everything she says with relevant data, Jacqe is charm personified. Her bright laughter quickly puts one at ease, and when asked if she’s ever faced any roadblocks that come with being a woman in business, she replies candidly: “To be honest, wala talaga.”
“We live in a world where making mistakes is acceptable,” Jacqe adds. “For me, do the best that you can, if there’s still something missing, you do it again and again. You should trust what your heart and your mind says. Hindi lahat nakikita sa numbers. Hindi lahat apparent on data. Some things, because you’ve been doing it for a long time, you have to trust your instinct and trust your gut.”
She credits this to her unfailingly positive mindset. “I’m a silver linings kind of person, therefore I never see it as a roadblock. I feel like everything I’ve gone through to build this with my team has been normal,” Jacqe says. “Meaning, every business, whether you’re a guy or a girl, you’ll have usual roadblocks, and you just think of it as part of the job.”
Last October, Happy Skin celebrated its tenth birthday with a bang—a massive half-off sale, the comeback of their iconic lippie, and a huge event with their longtime partner Lazada. Being able to sell their products on a platform like Lazada, whose PiliPino program places importance on local and homegrown brands, is a huge fulfillment for Jacqe, and part of what continues to empower entrepreneurs like her.
With a decade of immense growth and a fiercely loyal customer base, I ask Jacqe—how does she picture success? “For me,” she says, “success means you’re happy. At the end of the day, you’re happy, you’re giving back to the community, you have a sense of purpose. Being able to provide for more people, and being able to give back and make Filipinas proud.”
If the current beauty industry in the Philippines is any indication—the happy smiles, the rosy cheeks, and the glittering eyes—then Jacqe has certainly accomplished what she set out to do.
Check out these proudly Pinoy beauty brands on Lazada!
Happy Skin: https://www.lazada.com.ph/shop/happy-skin