How Latina Influencer-Founded Brand Golden Dream Beauty Rebounded After A Pandemic-Driven Sales Drop

In 2013, Venezuelan American entrepreneur and influencer Ydelays Rodriguez manned cosmetic counters at Macy’s and created YouTube videos on the side to teach women about makeup. Six months after she began producing content, she turned her side hustle into a full-time gig and landed partnerships with brands such as YSL Beauty, Lancôme, Laura Mercier and Too Faced.

“Honestly, it was a dream and an honor,” says the founder of Golden Dream Beauty who relocated to the United States at age 12. “However, I felt like my mind and heart wanted to do something bigger. I truly wanted to represent my Latin community in an authentic way and for more people like me to see themselves represented with the values that our culture teaches us in our homes, which is to work hard, live passionately, love yourself and share. I am an immigrant from Venezuela who literally started with nothing…I felt the lack of representation in all the retail stores where I, as a Latina in the United States, shop for beauty products.”

Rodriguez, whose social media accounts top 1 million followers and 64 million views cumulatively, poured $20,000 to $25,000 from her personal savings into developing Golden Dream, and it took about a year to bring it to market in 2019. Its initial assortment included four styles of $10 false lashes made with vegan polybutylene terephthalate (PBT) fibers. “Golden Dream Beauty began as a dream that I call the sueño dorado,” says Rodriguez. “It represents the American dream that most immigrants come to this country with.”

Golden Dream Beauty founder and influencer Ydelays Rodriguez

In Golden Dream’s first year of business, Rodriguez recovered the money she invested in developing it, and it generated profits. She says, “That was a really good sign to me.” But, just as Golden Dream was gaining steam, the pandemic plunged the world into crisis. The global emergency and resulting pullback in cosmetics purchases caused the brand’s sales to drop 70%. “We were worried,” says Rodriguez. “It was a very dark and sad time for everyone.”

Golden Dream never stopped selling lashes during the height of the pandemic, and Rodriguez shipped every order out herself at that time, packaging inventory that she had at home with her. “We kept all expenses to a minimum to basically survive as a small brand while we were waiting and hoping for the pandemic to end,” she recounts.

The slowdown forced Rodriguez to reconsider Golden Dream’s next moves. She previously planned to roll out a new lip product in 2020 and had everything in place for the release. Rodriguez says, “We decided to put that on pause since the use of face masks was mandatory, and we knew it was not the time [to launch a lip product].”

“I truly wanted to represent my Latin community in an authentic way.”

Instead, once again using her savings, Rodriguez traveled to Milan when it was safe and focused on creating a mascara. She invested $50,000 in the project for raw materials, production and marketing.

“For me and the team, going to Milan to visit the lab was something that we really wanted to do,” says Rodriguez. “I wanted to be able to create that transparency and trust with our customers and also I really wanted to see how the quality control was checked and [witness] the whole process of creating the formula and working with the raw materials. I can proudly say that I met everybody that worked on the creation and production of our mascara.”

Golden Dream’s Italian-manufactured, vegan mascara is called Dream On. Priced at $25, it launched in July this year and has led to a considerable boost in the brand’s sales. This year, Golden Dream’s business is up 433% largely due to the new mascara. A lash style called Dama is another hero product for the brand.

Launched in July, Golden Dream’s mascara Dream On has helped the brand’s sales increase 433% this year. DANYA MORRISOM

Golden Dream is sold in direct-to-consumer distribution on its own website and recently onboarded onto Amazon. It’s available on TikTok Shop as well. The brand plans to introduce an affiliate program for content creators and enhance its presence at beauty salons and pop-up markets. Rodriguez is named for her grandmother, who had a salon called Ydelays. So, salons make sense for her, but retail distribution is a major goal, too. Rodriguez lists Target, Ulta Beauty and Sephora as dream retailers for Golden Dream.

“We plan to continue launching new innovative and clean products in the coming years,” she says. “We want to continue building our community and, God willing, be able to start selling our products in physical stores since all of our business has been online.”