Freshie Femcare CEO Nelly Reyes Shares How She Carved Her Own Path to Success
At 7 years old Nelly Reyes immigrated to the United States from the Dominican Republic and moved to Pennsylvania with her mother in the 1980s. In her new neighborhood, there was a very minimal presence of other Latinos, which prompted her to quickly adapt to her new environment, like most children of immigrants learn to do. After graduating high school, Nelly moved to live with her father, who is the founder of Lemisol: the Caribbean’s best-selling feminine care brand dating back to the early 1980s. While there Nelly worked at his import and distribution business and quickly grew a passion for business as well as the acumen for running one which proved fruitful in her future pursuits.
Nelly continued her professional growth and landed a role in Los Angeles with STARZ in a Sales and Marketing role. During this time Nelly embraced an appreciation for clean and healthy living and soon discovered an unmet need in the natural feminine care product space. Soon after, Nelly enrolled at NYU to complete a degree in Leadership & Management. With the in-depth knowledge, training, and experience she gathered over the years Nelly put her skills, passion, and vision together and successfully launched her first company Freshie Fem Care in 2014.
“Freshie is about creating the best natural feminine care product options and at the same time educating women on why they need to go natural in feminine care. Freshie is about women being empowered with education and support, and ‘better-for-their-health’ products.”
People always ask, “why not just continue to work for your father’s already established business?” and I tell them “Because for me it was important to learn to soar with my own wings. Being Latina, and therefore having been raised in a profoundly patriarchal background, it is very important to me to thrive individually as a woman.”
Nelly believes that to achieve greatness you must contribute to the empowerment of women who have not had the same opportunities as her. When Nelly launched Freshie, she made a commitment to dedicate proceeds from the company’s online sales to supporting organizations that educate and empower women.
“I chose to partner with NMIC because the work they do in the community is what I consider God’s work. NMIC undoubtedly impacts the lives of many people who would otherwise not have access to the knowledge and resources necessary to improve their lives. When I learned that NMIC also has a program that specifically helps women who are victims and/or survivors of domestic violence I was more compelled to lend my support in any way I could.”
For Nelly, domestic abuse/violence is a cause that is near to her heart, “because more women than is common knowledge have at some point been victims, myself included.”
What inspiring words would you tell other young women who are interested in starting their businesses and entering the philanthropic world? “If you want to start a business, do it. Do your homework, find out what must be true for you to launch, and know that you don’t have to have everything down to perfection to launch, you do however have to have the commitment to yourself and your goal(s). Surround yourself with other women who have done it and learn from them. Ask questions, get involved in women’s networking groups.”
“As women, we should all be doing something for each other every chance we can, regardless of how small. So, if we commit to supporting one another (whether by volunteering our time or donating funds), we can all be philanthropists (perhaps even should).”
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