May 20, 2024
Face Forward: Suhay Gonzalez

Photo: Eileen Escarda

Gonzalez says she was motivated to start her own line of cosmetics after seeing a lack of representation in the beauty and cosmetics industry for diverse people.

Rising Executives

Face Forward: Suhay Gonzalez

Inspired by her mother, Suhay Gonzalez launched a makeup line with diverse women in mind.

Vickie Chachere | 12/14/2022

Seis Cosmetics, Lake Worth

Growing up in New York, Suhay Gonzalez learned many lessons from her mother, Cesarina: One was to never leave the house without a little lipstick. Another: Don’t give up.

Having moved to Palm Beach County in 2005 “with my son, an air mattress and no job,” Gonzalez has worked her way up to become CFO at a federal health care system. She stayed close to her family, engaging in hours-long FaceTime sessions with her mother as the two makeup aficionados tried on new looks. After her mother was diagnosed with a brain tumor in 2015, Gonzalez traveled between her Florida home and New York to help care for her. “Even on the last day, she said to me, ‘Go put on some lipstick; go fix yourself up a little bit; go brush your hair — you look crazy,’” Gonzalez says, now laughing at the memory. “She inspired me.”

After her mother lost her battle with cancer in 2018 at age 61, Gonzalez says she came through the grief with a new motivation to create something beautiful out of the experience. As a makeup enthusiast, she had seen the lack of Latina representation in the beauty and cosmetics industry, as well as a dearth of products designed to be inclusive of diverse skin tones. With no prior experience in the industry and “100% bootstrapped” in its financing, Gonzalez launched Seis Cosmetics in 2021.

The allergen-free line of lipsticks, glosses and lip treatments is formulated to be inclusive of a wide range of skin tones and is manufactured free of chemicals known or suspected as carcinogens. A percentage of all profits are donated to brain health awareness and cancer research in honor of her mother.

The company’s name — seis is Spanish for six — also has meaning, she says. Gonzalez is the sixth child in her family, and the name also is a homage to the military’s saying of “I’ve got your six” — meaning “I’ve got your back” — as a tribute to Gonzalez’s son, who was in the Army at the time. “It was me facing the challenge of losing my mom and thinking, ‘I can’t give up now. I have been through too much,’” she says. “It was not taking life for granted and being able to tap into my creativity.”

The line is building a devoted following in a competitive market saturated with new products and where entrepreneurs compete against global cosmetics brands for customers. Gonzalez says an enthusiastic social media audience and her years in finance help her navigate the manufacturing and marketing of the product. Particular shades of makeup work well for women of color, says Gonzalez, whose household buying power has surged by 87% over the last decade, but the makeup line also flatters a wide range of skin tones. “My goal is to provide that versatility, but that it’s all inclusive,” she says.

“Seis is my second wind in life,” she says. “I know who I am. I know what motivates me. I know my purpose.” 

Tags: Feature, Rising Executives

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