San Antonio’s Chica Beauty surprised with $25,000 on ‘Jennifer Hudson Show’

Mei-Lon and Toni Jimenez, the “sisterpreneurs” behind the San Antonio-based cosmetics company Chica Beauty, recently received an unexpected early Christmas gift on “The Jennifer Hudson Show,” when the Emmy-, Grammy-, Oscar- and Tony Award-winning host welcomed the siblings for an on-set interview and surprised them with a $25,000 small-business grant from Bank of America and Mastercard.

The episode aired Dec. 16, but you can still see the Chica Beauty segment online at the program’s YouTube channel, @JenniferHudsonShow.

For the Latina-owned online company, the whirlwind TV appearance marks a years-long journey built on the guiding principle that less makeup brings out more natural beauty and confidence.

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Bank of America's President of Small Business Sharon Miller (left) joined sisters and entrepreneurs Mei-Lon Jimenez and Toni Jimenez (center) to surprise them with a $25,000 grant for their San Antonio-based cosmetics line, Chica Beauty, with actress and singer Jennifer Hudson on "The Jennifer Hudson Show." The episode aired Dec. 16, 2022.

Bank of America’s President of Small Business Sharon Miller (left) joined sisters and entrepreneurs Mei-Lon Jimenez and Toni Jimenez (center) to surprise them with a $25,000 grant for their San Antonio-based cosmetics line, Chica Beauty, with actress and singer Jennifer Hudson on “The Jennifer Hudson Show.” The episode aired Dec. 16, 2022.

Chris Millard/Warner Bros.

Chica Beauty keeps it simple with just a handful of lipsticks, mascara and other products made for the everyday woman. Meanwhile, the two hermanas behind the brand further the cause of sisterhood by partnering with various San Antonio-area nonprofits and organizations dedicated to empowering girls and women, such as Dress for Success San Antonio and Girls Inc. of San Antonio.

The Jimenez sisters call it a beauty routine built on empowerment. Or as Hudson told them on her show, a “beautiful energy” that shows as much in their passion for bringing out inner beauty as in their products.

“We really say we are a cosmetic lifestyle beauty brand,” Mei-Lon said. “We focus on real girls and women, total go-getters.”

Toni added, “It’s being your authentic self and being confident. We’re really here just to accentuate that.”

Toni and Mei-Lon launched Chica Beauty three years ago as a line of sustainable, cruelty-free cosmetics with 100 percent recyclable packaging. Rather than overwhelm with choices, the sisters stick to a streamlined palette of pastel blushes and lipsticks, and natural dark brown and black eyebrow shades and eyeliners.

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Makeup artist Kat Franklin, left, looks Tuesday, Dec. 20, 2022 at makeup color samples on Mei-Lon Jimenez's arm. Mei-Lon Jimenez and her sister, Toni Lee Jimenez, not pictured, own cosmetic company Chica Beauty which recently received a $25,000 grant from Bank of America and MasterCard during an appearance on the Jennifer Hudson Show.

Makeup artist Kat Franklin, left, looks Tuesday, Dec. 20, 2022 at makeup color samples on Mei-Lon Jimenez’s arm. Mei-Lon Jimenez and her sister, Toni Lee Jimenez, not pictured, own cosmetic company Chica Beauty which recently received a $25,000 grant from Bank of America and MasterCard during an appearance on the Jennifer Hudson Show.

William Luther/Staff

But don’t let the simplified approach to makeup fool you. Despite basically being a two-woman operation, Chica Beauty hardly cranks out cosmetics from the garage.

While Toni oversees the e-business from her home in San Antonio, Mei-Lon, who lives in Los Angeles, has a corporate background as a buyer in business development. This has led to relationships with the same suppliers behind big-name brands, she said.

Chica Beauty’s biggest seller is a 3-in-1 anti-aging tinted moisturizer with SPF 30 that comes in three blendable shades for women of color. Their popular bold red lipstick, “Mija,” is a nod to their late grandmother Martha Jimenez’s love for rocking the candy bright lipstick and to that term of endearment their abuela and so many other Mexican American relatives bestow on their daughters, granddaughters and other young women close to their heart.

“If you ever met our grandmother, she was always put together,” said Mei-Lon, who would sometimes drive two hours to her abuela’s California home just to get her honest opinion on the goods.

Some of the products in sisters Toni Lee and Mei-Lon Jimenez's Chica Beauty cosmetic line are seen Tuesday, Dec. 21, 2022, in the home office they use to run the business. The company recently received a $25,000 grant from Bank of America and MasterCard during an appearance on the Jennifer Hudson Show.

Some of the products in sisters Toni Lee and Mei-Lon Jimenez’s Chica Beauty cosmetic line are seen Tuesday, Dec. 21, 2022, in the home office they use to run the business. The company recently received a $25,000 grant from Bank of America and MasterCard during an appearance on the Jennifer Hudson Show.

William Luther/Staff

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Mei-Lon, the eldest, was born in East Los Angeles, while middle sister Toni and youngest sister Marisa Xochtl were born in San Antonio. All three sisters grew up in the Alamo City, often marveling at their mother, Laurin Lee Jimenez, as she raced around the house doing her makeup, all the while encouraging her daughters to keep their makeup use to a minimum.

“I think it was really to build our confidence and to (let us) know that that’s not what it’s all about,” Toni said.

Toni and Mei-Lon took that philosophy to heart. Then in 2007, they took it to the masses when they launched ChicaGirl, a print and online magazine that highlighted San Antonio girls’ success stories and gave them the full cover-girl treatment with professional photo shoots and makeup artists.

“In the beginning they’re not used to getting their photos taken,” Toni told Hudson on the show. “But by the end of the day, they were like, ‘Yeah, take my picture,’ loving that confidence. So when Mei-Lon and I stared to do Chica Beauty, we wanted to bring that same feeling and emotion and confidence into the beauty space.”

The sisters wrapped ChicaGirl around the end of 2017 as they shifted gears to building Chica Beauty, which they launched in November 2019.

The small business has seen its share of successes. During Hispanic Heritage Month in September 2021, Chica Beauty got online and on-air promotion on QVC and HSN. And in March of last year, the Los Angeles Business Journal named both sisters in its Top 5 CEOs for diversity, equity and inclusion. So far, around a dozen boutiques across the country carry Chica Beauty, with a handful in San Antonio interested in doing the same.

Makeup artist Kat Franklin, left, poses Tuesday, Dec. 20, 2022 with Chica Beauty company owners Mei-Lon, center, and Toni Lee Jimenez, in the home office they use to run the cosmetics company. The sisters recently received a $25,000 grant from Bank of America and MasterCard during an appearance on the Jennifer Hudson Show to help grow the small business.

Makeup artist Kat Franklin, left, poses Tuesday, Dec. 20, 2022 with Chica Beauty company owners Mei-Lon, center, and Toni Lee Jimenez, in the home office they use to run the cosmetics company. The sisters recently received a $25,000 grant from Bank of America and MasterCard during an appearance on the Jennifer Hudson Show to help grow the small business.

William Luther/Staff

But the biggest boost by far has been “The Jennifer Hudson Show.” Both sisters noted the famous actress and singer instantly clicked with them and their business model.

“As soon as we sat down, there’s something about her,” Toni said. “She’s all about family. She’s all about community.”

Mei-Lon said, “She is just a beautiful soul. She embodies everything that Chica Beauty aspires to be and wants to be.”

On the heels of their West Coast adventure, the Jimenez sisters look to conquer the East Coast in January with a special slot at the National Retail Federation Retail’s Big Show in New York City. They also plan to launch a few new products next year, including one very special item that Toni teased “everyone from San Antonio is 1,000 percent going to get.”

rguzman@express-news.net


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