By Ruby Polanco
Inspirational, knowledgeable, and colorful are words that describe Ruby Polanco, president of the Ruby Makeup Academy. Polanco is a successful entrepreneur that turned her passion into a multimillion-dollar business.
Motivated by the lack of products for Hispanic and Latina women, Ruby created her own beauty line, Ruby Cosmetics, in 2005. After the launch of the line, she gained immense local popularity, and clients began encouraging Ruby to teach others her craft. Ruby originally saw the academy as a great way to promote her cosmetics line, but soon the school took on a life of its own. This year, Inc. Magazine named Ruby Makeup Academy one of the 500 fastest-growing companies in America.
When I first arrived in Los Angeles from Honduras, I was newly divorced, nearly homeless, and could barely speak English. I was fleeing an abusive husband, and my experience in that relationship had left me broken and feeling ugly, ignorant and small. My son was very young then, and I not only had to think about my own well-being, but also his welfare.
I knew that, in order to make a life for us both, I had to first acknowledge my insecurities. Then I had to ask, “Why do those things make me afraid?”
Education became both my foundation and my wings. It made me feel as if I could accomplish anything. I finished high school and became fluent in English. I went on to earn a BA in business management and a real estate license. But real estate, while profitable, just wasn’t my passion. Helping people feel more beautiful was.
You see, for me, finding my beauty was, and is, a big part of finding my confidence. I’m not talking about a media standard of beauty, but rather accepting the fact that you’re magnificent and special and perfect—beautiful—just the way you are. Even though I would eventually find my success in cosmetics, makeup is just an enhancement of the real splendor within.
We don’t just teach beauty at the Ruby Makeup Academies. We also teach business, marketing, and presenting yourself with confidence. Confidence is not just skin deep. That’s why I stress the importance of continual education with my students. Learning makes you feel equipped, and knowledge always makes you feel more confident. Reading is a wonderful way to keep learning. I read books on self-esteem, marketing, and growing a business. I also try to attend a growth seminar at least once a year. They are the tools I use to better understand myself and to fight off the insecurities that can erode my confidence.
Being confident takes work. It’s still a fight for me every day. Those old insecurities sometimes creep back in howling, “You’re ugly, you’re ignorant, and you’re small.” But every day, I find different ways to make myself feel beautiful, wise, and tall.