meet margarita arriagada
The founder of Valde Beauty who believes there is no failure. There is growth and there is enrichment in taking steps forward.
What grounds you?
Definitely daily prayer. Early in the morning, I take time to start my process by listening to music that gets me in the zone. I will read some devotionals and scriptures and then I’ll journal. That’s my morning ritual. And then I do it again at night right before I go to bed. It’s a way of releasing and grounding myself before I go to sleep so I’m not thinking about all the work that I have to do.
Currently, I’m learning how to meditate, which is something that doesn’t come naturally to me, because my mind is constantly going and it’s really hard to relax.
What is an imporant part of your daily ritual?
For me, drinking tea and lighting a candle is part of my daily ritual. I have to have tea when I go to sleep or in the middle of the day. There’s something psychological about it that soothes me. I gave up coffee quite a few years back and now I only drink herbal tea.
How do you practice self-care?
I dread taking pills. But I take them religiously every night. It’s practicing self-love and self-care because while I don’t like it, it’s necessary. I learned the hard way from having had my autoimmune illness, that I needed to take control of my wellbeing. For me, it was stress-induced. So now I’m fully aware that these are the things that I have to do to maintain balance. I owe it to my family and to myself to take care of myself.
How did your lupus diagnosis impact your mental health?
It took a long time to diagnose it. It manifested in me with severe pain, and it was unpredictable as to where it would happen in my body. But it was severe and piercing. I would have to take a lot of pain medication and it was beginning to take a toll. Not much medication was working. Instead, it was crippling me. I was on crutches and my doctor thought that I was in denial because I was still continuing to work. She kept saying; you need to give up work, you’re going to be in a wheelchair pretty soon. You have to come to terms with your illness and it is what it is.
“That is when I reached out to The Lupus Society and there was a network of people who offered their suggestions as to what to do.”
That was the beginning of my journey with nutrition and supplements. I became a master at understanding what foods I needed to cut out and how I could help build my strength to withstand the severe pain. My doctor was able to find a cocktail of things that worked, including oral chemo, which to this day I still take and I probably will have to take it for the rest of my life.
Was your lupus diagnosis something that you ever held in shame or felt stigma around?
The short answer is yes. I was so afraid of losing my job. Being a woman in the corporate world, I had to hide the pain and figure out how to camouflage and to function when I was in extreme, severe pain. I had friends that helped me. My family would dress me because I couldn’t do it myself. They would turn on the car because I couldn’t turn it on. But I refused to give in.
“But yes, I was ashamed.”
I was ashamed of the pain, going to the doctor, and then thinking that I had some psychological problem and I was making up these pain attacks. I was ashamed of sharing that and being completely open.
Have you always been open about having an auto-immune condition?
I’ve only recently become comfortable talking about it and I’m not sure why. I certainly know that the experience of coming into remission from this illness empowered me. That has helped me subsequently in my career and through other challenges and circumstances that can induce stress. It’s only recently that I’ve come to terms with that. I didn’t want my former employer to know and I sort of buried it. But the reality is, this is what happened and I feel empowered for having survived it.
Your brand Valdé is about self-discovery and embracing your vulnerabilities, where does that narrative come from and what was the impetus to launch your company?
I thought that I was going to create a concept that was an homage to my mom and women. I realized the journey of creation and what I was trying to envision and execute was incredibly challenging, especially from a design and functionality perspective. But I didn’t realize that it would challenge me to my core. Even talking about my mom was already difficult. I was talking about encouraging women to be their true selves and be very you and I wasn’t there.
“That moment of truth for me came early on.”
I had already gone far into the development and there were the stop, go moments. Finally, with this process of leaning into my faith, I realized we’re so much more than our fears. It’s fear that plagued me and paralyzed me. My roles were armor and I had suppressed so much of who I was, whether it was my illness, my journey, my upbringing, my Latin-ness, or just trying to fit in. The fear is still there, but I feel stronger every day. Now I’m at a place of understanding that it’s not about failure. There is no failure. There is growth and there is the enrichment in taking those steps forward.
Is there anything that is an ongoing stressor or makes you anxious?
Rejection. Hearing a lot of nos. I have always overcompensated. I’ve always tried to be an overachiever because I couldn’t handle rejection and I’m super insecure and I’m very introverted. I’ve lived with fear for most of my life. I can be scared of my own shadow, but I’ve learned to accept it and understand the gifts within that.
When do you feel most at peace?
When I’m in prayer.
When do you feel your body tense up?
In a meeting, when I’m about to do a pitch.
What gives you serotonin?
When I’m in creation mode, that’s my high.
What does your body language say about you?
That I’m paranoid about most things.
When do you speak your mind?
While I’m terribly insecure, there are conditions or situations that will trigger me to come out of my skin. I’m a Libra, so I believe in justice. I cannot handle injustice in any way, shape, or form. I cannot handle lack of respect. My thousand percent of Latina really comes out of me, so I’m super protective of other people.
next story — jen woodward