Joselyn Mendoza and Lesly Herrera met as LGBTQ+ activists in upstate New York. As trans women and undocumented workers, they bonded over shared experiences—specifically, the difficulty of finding a dignified means of providing for themselves. So, to reclaim their economic futures, they founded the Mirror Beauty Cooperative in New York City.
In 2014, Herrera was granted asylum in the U.S. She was also diagnosed with colon cancer, Hodgkin’s lymphoma and breast cancer that same year. “I could never take a day off to see a doctor, was not allowed to leave early, and always thought I would be fired. I never had any time.” Such conditions compelled Herrera to join with others who had similar experiences to take back agency over their lives together.
They created Mirror as a co-op so they could share wages equally, with the goal of economic independence for themselves, other members of the LGBTQ+ community, and immigrants. Ultimately, they would like Mirror to model what they hope to see in the world: equal pay and worker-ownership.