Meet Ricardo Quintero, Co-Founder of Care® Skincare.
Ricardo Quintero has been an inspiring and innovative leader throughout his career at some of the most well-known companies of our time: Procter & Gamble, Pepsi, The Estée Lauder Companies and most recently as President of Movado Group Inc. I first met Ricardo when I was just starting out in the beauty industry, and although I was at the bottom of the corporate ladder I was always treated with courtesy and respect. It is a privilege today to ask a few one-on-one questions of Ricardo, and include some excerpts from his recent Cosmoprof article (which can be viewed here).
Q: Ricardo, what continues to inspire you most about the beauty industry after so many years?
A: I have always been very attracted to beauty because I have a deep set feeling that this industry is good. If you think about it, it’s one of the most positive industries that exist. People that use beauty products want to feel and look happier and more confident. I am convinced that those people that feel better about themselves are more successful in any aspect of their lives, from work to their interaction with family and friends. Beauty works toward this goal of happier lives and better people. It’s not about trying to look perfect – it’s bringing out the best version of our individual selves.
Let’s talk about makeup. When I saw the transformational power of a lipstick firsthand (the smile, the change in posture and overall confidence that happened in seconds), I thought, wow – that’s magic. Magic in a tube of lipstick.
There’s also fragrance. Fragrance has that ability to touch one of the most important senses we have and it’s something that registers right away, that everyone can recognize and appreciate.
And of course, hair. This category plays such an important role in the establishment of your identity and your public “persona” as well as the cultural trend you want to represent. Long hair, short hair, wavy, curly, straight and tinted. The possibilities for transformation are infinite.
To me, skincare will always be the main attraction, as so many of our emotions and expressions are communicated through our face. Our faces communicate constantly, and they are perhaps the greatest source of identity we have. Great, healthy skin gives us a different level of confidence altogether.
Q: What was your first start in the business world?
A: As a young man I worked for P&G which is a great company. One of the most interesting launches I was present for was the diaper category in Mexico. There was someone else who was more senior lined up for this job, yet I somehow convinced the hiring manager to go with me. I had never changed a diaper before, so the management team sent me to a daycare to learn about the habits and practices of caregivers. I really loved this experience, not only because I truly could understand what the actual consumer wanted and needed, but also the human connection with the beginning of life. I had never been around so many babies all at once!
Q: Do you have a role model who has guided you through your career?
A: That person is my father. He was an incredible man who always talked about how blessed and lucky he was to have left Cuba with nothing to then find success in Mexico. My father was able to start his own intimate apparel business with a partner and although he was offered many “shortcuts” he always refused, saying it was his duty to do things right.
I worked with him often as a young boy and learned practical applications, such as how to cut & sew garments, and more important lessons too. There was always an emphasis on ethics and behavior. For example, he was sensitive to his employees and made sure their working conditions were excellent and dignified – something that wasn’t common at the time. In one instance, I was in his office when he called in a young male engineer who was considered a top performer. My father asked him face to face if he had been harassing female workers. When the man answered yes, my father fired him on the spot.
I’m very sad to say that my father passed this past September, but he had an amazing life and a great and lasting impact on his family and those who knew him personally.
Q: What are some of the moments in your career where you felt motivated to revolutionize the beauty business and start something new?
A: After a long time spent in the beauty industry, I felt overwhelmed myself (and for the consumer), with the oversaturation of brands and the level of product confusion. What brand can I trust? What products should I use, and how? What will really work for my skin? Also, there was such a push for new product, new launches, and making people want things they didn’t really need. One company says this formula is the new best thing ever, and a year before something else is the hot trend. The level of marketing BS, in my opinion, is ubiquitous and damaging. Companies chase investors on Wall Street instead of putting the consumer first.
Our first brand is Care® Skincare. Pilar, my wife, and I launched Care® because we saw a need to declutter and simplify skincare. We saw white space to make essential skincare products that actually work to transform and improve the condition of your skin. We did away with all the marketing hyperbole and the fancy, wasteful packaging. We don’t believe in paid “brand ambassadors” because these are all essentially fake. We are authentic and believe our own customers are our best advocates. We only use safe, proven ingredients, and bring it all at an affordable price because we sell directly to consumers. Care® is here to provide a fresh, straightforward approach to skincare that is highly effective, safe, and affordable.
Q: Can you share some highlights of your journey from the corporate world to digital entrepreneur?
A: A few years ago, I reached an impasse where I was so tired of corporate life. In my day there was a lot of waste – things being constantly repeated, too much posturing, corporate politics, and extensive traveling that took me away from my family. I would definitely say it was a case of corporate fatigue. Since I’ve left that world, I’m happy like I haven’t been in a long time. Part of this new role is realizing I can make mistakes, and I do make quite a lot of them. Truthfully, I like making mistakes as an entrepreneur because I can recognize them more rapidly and learn from them in a much more honest way than in a corporate environment. I have nothing to prove to anyone but myself this time around. In digital, there are a lot of things I must acquire knowledge for because rules from my traditional marketing background don’t apply. One wonderful change is that I rely on younger people who are experts in this field to teach and inspire me.
For several years, I have seen the seismic shift driven by the digital convergence to online brand discovery, engagement, and shopping. This disruptive trend keeps building momentum, and now with the COVID-19 pandemic, many of these consumer behaviors will become permanent. With the digitization of payments and the digital convergence of multiple platforms, it is all “magically” available in the palm of your hand. The traditional retail model has not transformed to meet the demands of a more exigent, and knowledgeable consumer who is empowered by their iPhone. That is why we named our business entity Digital Brands LLC: to develop digitally native brands like Care® that participate in the new digital ecosystem and leverage the billions of dollars that have been invested in digital infrastructure. We have unprecedented access to leading-edge technology in data analytics, artificial intelligence, advertising, and CRM at a fractional cost.
The digital world allows you to see things very quickly and nothing stays theoretical for long. The highs are high, and the lows are pretty rock bottom. There is no safety net, which is like an adrenaline shot that increases awareness, attention and mindfulness.
I’m loving this stage of my career and that I can do this with Pilar, my wife and co-founder. We work around our kitchen table and support and coach each other which adds a wonderful dimension to our relationship and our company.
Every day is an adventure. Once you think you’ve mastered something – well something else comes up, and you work through it and hopefully come out stronger and with new knowledge, better.
Q: I know sustainability is very important to you and Pilar. I just read a post from Vogue that the beauty industry is still behind in many ways. What are your thoughts?
A: We are absolutely concerned with the amount of packaging that is generated and the impact on the environment and landfills which we are leaving for the next generation to solve.
I see hope in my eleven-year old son, who has been educated with a different level of understanding and awareness for the environment. We feel it’s our duty with Care® Skincare to use the most affordable and most sustainable packaging available. And we will certainly continue to find better ways to package our products in the future.
Another item of concern is that there are a lot of harmful, toxic ingredients still used in the beauty industry. With Care® Skincare, we use the best scientific knowledge out there to follow clean beauty standards, avoiding anything harmful or toxic.
Q: What is the best piece of career advice you would give your younger self?
A: The best advice I have received and would share to others is to be yourself, always. I know this is a common cliché, but it is true. Throughout your professional life, and particularly in the early stages, you will find times when you end up modeling behaviors of people higher in the hierarchy. While many of these can be beneficial, some may actually move you away from who you really are. Choose who you work for carefully. Find bosses and mentors that really care about your development. Don’t work for nasty, incompetent, narcissistic or unethical people. If you are not sincerely proud of what you do, you need to change jobs. Have a positive mindset as this will help you navigate through good times and bad. Love what you do. Take risks. Be Courageous. Be Bold.
With Thanks to Ricardo,
Once an Estée Lauder Marketing Executive, Michelle is now a Care® Skincare Staff Writer and a big fan of their simple approach to skincare. She lives with her husband and two small children, who keep her busy 23/7.