In this series of interviews, we explore stories from immigrant/BIPOC*/women business owners who have adapted during the pandemic. The purpose is to learn and connect through shared experience. In this interview, Teresa Luengo-Cid, Project Specialist in Diversity Services at KCLS, spoke with Nancy, owner of a cosmetics business in Burien.
*BIPOC means "Black, Indigenous, and People of Color."
Meet Nancy, Cosmetic Business Owner
Nancy is a Mexican woman who, at 34, is the model of a Latina businesswoman and fighter. She started her own cosmetic business 2 years ago. Presently, Nancy rents a space where she specializes in dyeing and cutting hair for women in Normandy Park, Burien.
Before taking the step of starting out, Nancy worked hard for 17 years for a franchise. There she rose from her initial position as a part-time worker to become the manager, training all kinds of people from various social strata. “Many times certain people could not believe that it was me, a Mexican immigrant, who was training them.”
Nancy always had a driving aspiration to have her own business. To do so, Nancy had to save for a year and a half so that she could pay for her cosmetology studies. Thanks to StartZone, an initiative of Highline College, she learned the basics of how to create one’s own business. “This program gave me the opportunity, the information and the resources that I needed to make my dream a reality. I only had to invest my time."
Then COVID-19 hit.
When COVID began, she had to close for three months and look after her son. To be able to survive and pay her rent, Nancy had to go back to her old work. . "It was not easy. I received no federal help and only received a grant to cover 2 months' rent made available through StartZone."
A turning point.
Nancy acknowledges that her business was very busy during the first months of its reopening,"but now that school has begun again, things have slowed down." Now she only works 3 days a week, 25 percent of her capacity. Basically, this earns her enough to pay her rent and keep her business going without losing her clients.
The road ahead.
Nancy has continued studying at a Kent cosmetology school, where she takes classes to become a cosmetology instructor. “He who drives himself advances and evolves. It is also very important to continue making connections and learning, because nothing is certain.” Public libraries could be key in this sense by, for example, providing informative resources about available help and services, such as financial aid opportunities for small businesses.
Nancy's Business Tip: One must make the most of this situation. Learning during the pandemic, making use of resources, preparing yourself, educating yourself and reading can make the difference in your life and business.
Support your local small business community! For more financial and small business resources, visit Invest in Yourself.
The Welcoming Center for immigrants, refugees and new arrivals connects you to the people and resources in the area you live.