By Yola Robert
Forbes 30 under 30 alumni, Camila Coelho, is a Brazilian-American fashion and beauty entrepreneur. Her namesake fashion label, Camila Coelho Collection, sold out online within minutes of launch and continues to grow month over month. As a first-generation immigrant who arrived to the United States when she was 14, she started following her passion for beauty and makeup right out of high school instead of pursuing a traditional collegiate path. Coelho decided to pursue her love for makeup working at the Dior makeup counter at her local Macy’s against her mother’s wishes.
“After high school, I remember having this really hard conversation with my mom and saying to her I needed a little bit more time, at least six months, to kind of figure out a little more what I wanted to do. She was devastated as she wanted me to go to college right away to secure something for my future. But I looked at her in the eye and I said, ‘Mom I promise you that I am going to make you proud’ and I get chills saying that because I kept that in my mind since that day my biggest wish was to do something that was going to make my mom proud,” Coelho explained on the ‘I Suck At Life’ podcast. “The one thing I loved about that job was the connection that I had with other people. You know people from different backgrounds with different needs that would come to the counter and I would give them a tip here and there then they would all leave with a smile on their faces. That would make my day every single day which is what made me want to become a makeup artist. I’ve always been a beauty lover, but working at the Dior counter showed me how much beauty is transformative and impactful it can be.”
During her time at the Dior counter, Coelho took to YouTube uploading her favorite beauty looks and creating step-by-step tutorials as a way to stay in touch with her friends and family back in Brazil. What began as a hobby quickly propelled Camila into one of the world’s top digital personalities, with a massive global reach of over 15 million followers across her social platforms. She has been seen front row at top fashion shows including Christian Dior, Oscar de la Renta, Celine, Marc Jacobs, TomFord, Max Mara and Chloe; to carpets including the highly coveted MET Gala with Diane von Furstenberg and the Cannes Film Festival. Coelho has also graced covers around the globe including international editions of InStyle, Glamour, Women’s Health ,L’Officiel, Cosmopolitan, Harper’s Bazaar and more. Coelho even starred in a Dior Makeup campaign- a full circle moment since her humble beginnings at the Dior makeup counter at Macy’s.
Although beauty was always number one in Coelho’s heart, fashion became her second love. One of the other many brands she often worked with was Revolve whom eventually became her partner in Camila Coelho Collection. “I had worked with Revolve for many years before partnering with them on my collection. By then, I had already grown to love and admire the team at Revolve. It felt like such an organic partnership due to my existing relationship with the brand, but also because my followers seemed to really enjoy when I shared my purchases from Revolve. The partnership was organic for them too. It was the perfect fit. The line is all inspired by my Brazilian roots mixed in with my own personal style,” Coelho says. She expanded her apparel line by launching a swim collection this past March, during quarantine, where she saw a massive success rate, with a 92% sell-through.
Simultaneously during the pandemic, Coelho launched her beauty brand Elaluz. The name Elaluz, which means “she is light,” in Camila’s native language of Portuguese, is is inspired by recognizing your own unique light from within and believing in yourself, your individuality. Elaluz is a lifestyle brand that encompasses skincare, makeup, haircare and more, driven by key products Camila carries with her as a global entrepreneur. Each product is designed to be a partner in the daily hustle, making life a little easier for that powerful, confident, independent person on the go. “No beauty customer shops from only one brand, so I didn’t feel like I needed to create a full line. Instead, I focused on my must-haves that I really believe in, the ones that help me bring my beauty from the inside out,” she says. The brand launched with a lip & cheek stain, 24k lip stain along with its newest addition of a beauty water and oil.
Over the last decade Coelho has gone from the makeup counter to content creator to CEO. Now looking back Coelho is glad she trusted herself to pursue her dreams instead of going the traditional route, “I felt insecure to say until like a few years ago that I didn’t go to college. I always felt insecure saying, but today I’m proud of my story and everything I’ve accomplished. I had to work hard especially not going to college. The biggest lesson I’ve learned trust myself and follow my heart. Each time I’ve followed my heart, I’ve been happy with the results, and the moments where I didn’t, I ended up failing.”
Coelho didn’t have to go to college to learn about entrepreneurship as she has learned it first hand building Camila Coelho Collection and Elaluz. As a clean brand, Elaluz faced limitations and setbacks especially as the original launch was set in the height of the pandemic. With Camila Coelho Collection she had to take design risks that weren’t readily received at first. Besides following her heart and trusting herself, one of the biggest entrepreneurial lessons has been building a strong team. “It’s so important to build a great team around you. From my own experience, a good team can completely change everything. A strong team that works well together, has the same values, and are comprised of people you admire and want to have representing you and your brand is key. Building my own team has been a key part of my success and that’s one of the lessons I’ve learned through the years,” she explained.
Although from the outside looking in Coelho seemed to have a perfect life, she was living with a secret. In February of 2020 she came out to CBS This Morning to share her lifelong battle with epilepsy. “When I was diagnosed at 9 years old, I kept this to myself and my close circle of friends and family. I finally opened up to the world when I was 32 years old!” Coelho exclaimed. “It was scary, but it was the best thing I’ve ever done and I’ve been able to help so many others with epilepsy along the way. I feel so much stronger now more than ever. I want to continue to use my voice and my platform to inspire those who struggle with epilepsy and those who struggle accepting themselves. As a board member for the Epilepsy Foundation, I work together with the foundation to use my platforms to end the stigma surrounding epilepsy and bring awareness and resources to those living with epilepsy.”
Her advice to those who struggle with epilepsy, or any other condition, is to know that no one has a perfect life and there is no such thing as perfection. Everyone has a different challenge and struggle that they go through. “I learned that epilepsy would be a lifelong challenge for me, and I have since accepted that, but in order to move on I had to love myself and accept myself as I was. I truly believe everyone is born with a beautiful, unique, individual light that makes them stronger. The moment you let your light shine through and believe in yourself, you will be able to rule the world. I am an example of that. I struggled at a young age but I was able to accept myself, dream, and believe that I could be who I wanted to be in this life. Be strong, go after dreams and rule the world,” she said.