“From happy skin—to now happy heart and happy mind.”
On Happy Skin’s birthday, Rissa Manaquil-Trillo announced her exit from the homegrown beauty brand she co-founded nearly a decade ago.
“Eight years ago, Happy Skin officially launched on October 18, 2013. I remember how Paolo and I put in our joint savings after we got married,” she begins in a post on IG announcing her departure.
In the video, she is seen taking off a gold pendant and storing it away, which she shares she had made for her and her partner. “From then on, I’ve worn it almost every day close to my heart as a reminder of all the hard work, purpose, and passion,” she shares.
The former president of the Professional Models Association of the Philippines (PMAP) says the decision to leave was something she thought long and hard about. It takes a lot of strength, she explains, to leave something that she has poured so much of her life into.
According to the “Our Story” page of the Happy Skin website, the brand was a partnership between Jacqe Yuengtian-Gutierrez and Mananquil Trillo, with the former asking the latter to come on board.
“It has always been my dream to have my own makeup line,” Mananquil-Trillo, who is also a beauty columnist for the Philippine Star, shares. “Not the kind that merely attaches my name onto the packaging but the kind which allows me to be hands-on with creating, formulating, testing everything from the start.”
In her last Lifestyle Asia profile, she shared what she believes Filipinos want products that, first and foremost, work.
“They’re willing to pay for new additions to their beauty arsenal when they see that products deliver what they promise and when products are so easy to use and offer a variety of uses,” she explains, “that it allows them to devote their precious time to other things in their lives apart from their beauty routine.”
While Mananquil-Trillo alluded to the reason behind her leaving, she didn’t give specifics.
“Shared values are so important. Doing a good job has always meant so much to me—not just a good job, but doing it with integrity,” she continues in the post. “It never made sense to me to compromise what I believed in because that meant compromising my respect for myself, too.”
As Mananquil-Trillo’s friends offered messages of support in the comments section of the post, the announcement still came as a shock to many. In that March 2020 piece, she says that she was in it for the long haul.
“That’s what keeps us relevant and needed in the lives of our customers, and what keeps them coming back to us,” she says at the end of that article. “You don’t succeed by killing competition. You succeed by creating value.”
Mananquil says that the final step of her decision was seeking the advice of some of the country’s respected business leaders, though she did not name them. “Turning to them proved to me that no matter what generation you are from, right is right and wrong is wrong,” she says.
Though she is leaving, the former model admits that she has ticked off everything on the list of goals she set when Happy Skin started.
Among them, she says, are “to provide a solution to a problem Filipinas had been facing and empower them with skin-caring makeup, to fill the gap in the cosmetics industry with a local makeup brand that offered premium quality products at affordable prices, and to create a homegrown brand that Filipinos can be proud of.”
While she understands that she is in a privileged position to walk away from something that no longer aligns with her values, it’s time to, as she puts it, “make better choices.”
“Success to me is being able to check all the boxes in that list, but also knowing when to walk away,” Mananquil-Trillo says. “Your soaring season is your sifting season. When you want to fly, you have to give up what weighs you down.”
Banner Photo by FLOYD JHOCSON