We’re bringing you an in-depth Q&A with Ana Nuñez, owner of Vida Bars. Vida Bars brings you some of the best plastic-free shampoo and conditioner bars for your hair – yes safe for all textures and free of those nasty chemicals. Ana founded Vida Bars as a solution to healthy hair and a clean planet with the mission to positively impact the world. Since launching her business, she has seen a lot of success due to the growing audience who is more conscious about the products they are using and the impacts it has on the planet. Read on to find out more about Vida Bars and Alpha Latina, Ana.
Ana, how did you get started and what inspired you to start your business?
I used to hate my curly hair and finally in 2018 started on the journey to embrace my curls. In that process the plastic bottles started accumulating and when I realized how broken and exploitative our recycling system was, I decided to do something about it. Over 558 million plastic bottles discarded every year in the US for shampoo alone is unacceptable. So I focused on creating salon quality products for curly hair that are also eco friendly.
How do you balance self-care and managing a business?
Balance is a struggle for me. I still have a full time job, I’m a single mom and through the first four months of launching my business I was also finishing my master’s degree. I have many sleepless nights, I’m not great at staying organized, and my kids often have a bowl of cereal for dinner. I give myself grace for all of it though, and I think that’s truly the best self-care, being understanding with yourself.
What are some unique challenges that you face as a Latina business owner?
As a Latina, I find other businesses don’t take me seriously. I have to fight a little harder to get the attention of suppliers, marketers, etc. However there are also many advantages, especially in the customers I serve. There is a big movement towards becoming more conscientious consumers and people want to spend their money with small businesses, particularly with women of color owned ones. I try to focus on that positive.
What aspirations or goals do you have for your business?
I want Vida Bars to make an impact on the way women love and care for themselves, and of course on the environment by offering eco friendly options. However positively impacting communities is at the core of what I’m doing too. As of now we’re donating a portion of our profits to establish an educational fund for survivors of domestic violence. As our company grows, I want to provide employment opportunities for that community as well. It’s a cause that’s very personal to me.
Tell us more about your products and where you source your materials/ingredients from.
I know not all textured hair is the same. From waves, to curls and coils, we all have different needs. That’s why I have a whole set of lines that cater to each. Even though the cost of Vida Bars is very accessible, I focus on quality ingredients, like exotic butters such as cupuacu, mafura and muru muru. You don’t see a lot of other hair care products using them because they’re quite costly. Those high quality ingredients are essential and something I won’t compromise on either. My VidaBabes deserve the best!
What is some advice you can offer aspiring entrepreneurs?
Find your why and your niche. Vida Bars for me is very personal, I have many reasons why and that keeps me going even on the hardest days. And while my products work for every type of hair (yes, we have many straight haired customers who love them) I know my niche is textured hair, because that’s where the need I’m trying to fill is and it’s easier to connect with the community if I’m speaking directly to it.
What are some challenges you faced that you didn’t expect as an entrepreneur? What are some challenges you did expect?
I launched right at the onset of the covid pandemic and I’ve never owned a business. I honestly didn’t know what to expect, but being able to scale at the rate of demand was a huge challenge and very unexpected. We handcraft each bar and I will not compromise about the quality of my products. Therefore outsourcing manufacturing isn’t an option. We continually stayed sold out for the first six months, while figuring out how to increase production. This might not make the most business sense, it’s the way I want to do my business. I expected demand, but not at the rate it’s been. Those are great problems to have though, and I welcome the opportunity to continue growing.
Where can we follow you and your business adventures?
I’d be honored for you to follow my experience as I navigate the growth of Vida Bars. You can find me on instagram at @thevidabars and my personal brand page @vidabypearls, on facebook at facebook.com/vidabars and of course our website thevidabars.com. Which by the way this is the first public announcement I make of it, is about to have a whole new look that I’ve been working on for months and I’m very excited to reveal soon!