A New Yorker with deep Colombian roots, Giovanna Campagna knows a thing or two about Latin America's incredible nature and beauty philosophies. She recently launched Joaquina Botánica, a clean skincare brand powered by the potent botanical active ingredients indigenous to Latin America. We recently sat down with Giovanna to hear more about her new company (which she created during pregnancy and launched with a newborn), how she balances work and motherhood, and all of her go-tos when it comes to pregnancy, the postpartum phase, and taking care of her adorable daughter, Letizia.
Tell us about your brand, Joaquina Botánica.
Joaquina Botánica is a clean skincare brand inspired by Latin America’s incredible nature and beauty philosophies. We just launched our first product in January - a deliciously hydrating, brightening, and plumping face oil called the Orquídea + Vitamin C Hydrating Glow Oil. It is powered by a blend of the most potent botanicals native to Latin America and clinical active ingredients at the forefront of clean beauty innovation.
What inspired you to start it?
My mother is from Cali, Colombia, which explains my connection to Latin America. I came to beauty from a career in fashion, however. I started out working in magazines, then began consulting for Latin American fashion brands seeking expansion in the global market.
A few years ago, I became increasingly interested in clean beauty and wellness. The idea for Joaquina Botánica came to me when I was on a trip in Colombia and thought to myself, here I am in the most biodiverse region in the world surrounded by the most incredible natural ingredients. Moreover, everything I have learned about beauty is from the Latin women in my life and their rich beauty culture. I felt inspired to create a line that would share both of these elements with the world.
So much goes into creating a product, especially a 100% clean one. What were some of the unexpected hurdles you ran into while creating your Hydrating Glow Oil and how did you get through them?
Creating clean skincare that is truly efficacious and luxurious takes serious expertise – so finding the right chemist to partner with was crucial. After a lot of searching, I began collaborating with one of the leading chemists here in the US who is truly innovating in the space.
The biggest challenge in formulating the Hydrating Glow Oil was creating a beautiful scent without using fragrance or essential oils (which can be irritating to some skin types). Through endless adjustment of the natural oils, we were able to create a sweet, buttery, warm scent that transports you to the tropics, while being completely derived from the nutritious ingredients themselves.
Joaquina Botánica Orquidea + Vitamin C Hydrating Glow Oil
Your brand, Joaquina Botánica, has its roots in Colombian practices and rituals. What are some daily rituals that make you feel your best?
I make a whole ritual out of my skincare routine. I put on a special headband to hold back my hair, which somehow always makes me feel like I’m at a spa. I keep my nails tidy, which makes me feel more put together overall (this is something I definitely picked up from my mother and aunts). I learned from the women in my family that these moments of self-care should be enjoyed and prioritized; I think that joy is the secret ingredient that makes them seem young at every age.
Sustainability and giving back are big components for you and Joaquina Botánica. Can you speak a little bit about who and what you are passionate about helping and how your brand enables you to do so?
We have pledged a portion of our profits from each sale to Glasswing International, an incredible non-profit that provides education, mental health, and employability programs to youth in 10 South American countries, as well as migrant families in the USA. I always knew I wanted our brand to give back to the roots that inspire it; Latin America is an incredible and exciting region, but still has extreme disparities that need to be addressed.
Tell us more about your adorable daughter, Letizia!
Letizia just turned 9 months and is becoming more giggly and engaging every day. She is especially playful and boisterous right before bedtime, which we’ve dubbed the “Silly Hour.” She can sometimes be shy and “slow to warm” when in new environments, but once she gets comfortable she is very sweet and gentle with others. She loves baths, examining tiny objects, and crawling to reach her baby crackers. She is half English (thanks to her Dad), so I’m hoping she gets his accent!
What was pregnancy like for you?
The beginning was difficult as all-day sickness put me out of commission for 3 months. I generally felt good during the rest, but given that COVID lockdowns began at the start of my third trimester, external factors created a lot of stress and worry. My husband and I were completely isolated from family and friends until 3 weeks after I gave birth. Looking back, however, I am grateful for those intimate, last months we had as just the two of us.
What were the best and most challenging parts of pregnancy?
The most challenging part was the constant nausea I experienced during the first trimester, and just generally feeling less energetic than usual. The best part of pregnancy was watching my body create Letizia, and feeling her come to life through all those little kicks.
Any postpartum challenges with hair or skin and tips on how to combat them?
I experienced melasma and dark spots during and after pregnancy. In Colombia, many women actually swear by using breast milk for hyperpigmentation, as it is known to have brightening and regenerating effects on the skin. My chemist even corroborated this theory – apparently breast milk contains 5 or so human growth hormones that regenerate the skin, as well antiseptic compounds that help to clear it. A good trick is to apply it over our face and neck and let it sit for a few hours like a mask.
How has your outlook on balancing work and life changed since you had your daughter?
Since having my daughter, the saying “You can have it all, just not all at the same time,” has become very true for me. I know that this moment has to be about my family and my business, which means that other things, like my social life, are taking of a back seat.
I try to integrate work, fun, and time with my daughter as much as possible. For example, I love playdates with my friends who have kids, or long phone calls with friends who I enjoy talking about work and ideas with.
Tell us about what a day looks like balancing motherhood and running your new business.
I wake up when my daughter does, at about 7am, and get her from her crib for some time together before I start work at about 7:30am. As I am working from home, I am lucky that I can take breaks to play with her throughout the day. Recently, I have actually started taking some time off in the afternoon to be with her during her waking hours. We’ll go for a walk in the park or just play on her mat. When she goes down for the night at about 7:30pm, I then put in a few more hours on the business. I’ve found that my productivity is sometimes much better at night, especially when there is a cute, distracting baby in the house! I’m grateful that I have this flexibility in my schedule so I can maximize my time with her.
Anything you couldn’t have lived without during pregnancy (e.g. food, supplements, books, products)?
Yogurt every morning, Innate Prenatal supplement, my Beaba pregnancy pillow, and our Joaquina Botánica Hydrating Glow Oil. I was developing the formula throughout my pregnancy, so I used it every day. Beyond being incredibly hydrating, it includes a blend of Orchid extract and Bakuchiol (a natural retinol alternative that pregnancy-safe) that target wrinkles and helps maintain firm, smooth, youthful skin. Definitely needed this before the sleepless newborn nights began!
Any favorite book that got you through (pregnancy, postpartum period or parenting book, or all three!)?
The Fourth Trimester!
Best piece of advice for new and expecting mothers?
Follow your intuition. There are so many competing theories, but whatever you choose to do is what is right for you and your baby.
Anything you splurged on for baby that you’d skip next time around?
A very pretty moses basket that we thought we would carry her around in, but did not prove to be very practical.
What are some beauty rituals you hope to pass down to her?
Caring for her skin, wearing SPF every day, eating clean (good skin starts from within!), and finding a form of exercise that she loves. I will also encourage her to wax her legs instead of ever shaving! My Colombian cousins did this and ended up with no hair by their 20s, whereas shaving requires constant maintenance.
Biggest surprise about motherhood so far? Biggest challenge?
The postpartum period was the biggest challenge for me. I was constantly exhausted and fairly anxious. The biggest surprise is how my daughter is just pure happiness for me. Each day I am more in love, and just giving her a squeeze makes everything feel right.
You have one hour to yourself...how are you spending it?
A hot epsom salt bath and a podcast.
Bottles: Philips Avent Glass Bottles
Diapers: Pampers Swaddlers
Bathtub: Summer Comfort Height Bathtub
Body Lotion: Maty’s
Car seat: So far, the Doona!
Stroller: Uppababy Vista
Playlist: My friend Lucy Cuneo made this amazing Spotify Playlist that we’ve played over and over at the end of each day.
Toys: Lovevery Subscription Box
Book for bedtime: The Snail and the Whale