Content creator builds a following and brand with her all-natural skincare line

Mariela Perez Calderon the founder of PerCal Naturals started her business in 2021. She primarily uses social media to share her story and market her products. (Courtesy of Mariela Perez Calderon)

Mariela Perez Calderon, 27, gets up and sleepily walks to the bathroom. She puts a few pumps of her foaming face wash in her hand to start the morning routine.

“So it’s African black soap. You’ve heard of African black soap. Rosewater and essential oils,” said Perez Calderon.

It’s a part of PerCal Naturals, the skincare brand Calderon started in 2021, not long after the COVID-19 pandemic began.

Four bottles with pink labels on top of a wooden plank.
Perez Calderon uses 100% natural ingredients in her products. She was her first client. (Courtesy of Mariela Perez Calderon)

Around that time, Perez Calderon was embarrassed by her adult acne.

“I was prescribed medication, which was really harsh, not just on my acne, which was actually making it worse, but also on the rest of my body. And it was like a really tough three months,” said Perez Calderon.

Some of the side effects included potential damage to her reproductive system.

“Why did the fear of failing before my family and friends continue to hold me back? It was almost like having, I think, what they call it, the fear of being seen.”

Mariela Perez Calderon, creator of PerCal Naturals

Armed with a camera and background in human biology, Perez Calderon started testing natural skin-clearing remedies she would find online and post the results.

“I started creating content around skin positivity and pretty much sharing my journey and sharing my struggle with problematic skin with acne and hyperpigmentation,” said Perez Calderon.

She started to build an audience on YouTube and social media.

At first, she was afraid.

“Why did the fear of failing before my family and friends continue to hold me back? It was almost like having, I think, what they call it, the fear of being seen,” said Perez Calderon.

Soon, even during the uncertain times of the early pandemic, she felt empowered and sparked by others’ feedback.

Perez Calderon says one of the resources that has helped her was the Georgia Hispanic Chamber of Commerce.

“They didn’t only just provide me with mentorship and guidance, they were also more than happy to provide me with funding to kick start my business back up because I was very transparent and vulnerable with them, like, this is how much revenue my business has done,” said Perez Calderon.

A woman doing work on a computer at a standing desk.
Perez Calderon does most of herself between her home and warehouse in Atlanta. (Marlon Hyde/WABE)

She hopes to build this community and help more people feel confident in their skin.

“When they found my brand PerCal Naturals and me, not only did they find something that helped them clear their skin, but they also found a support community, where they were told like there’s nothing wrong with you,” said Perez Calderon.