Women business owners reflect on journey during Small Business Saturday
While Black Friday was all about big deals, Small Business Saturday celebrated the big hearts that keep local businesses running.
Women-owned businesses alone grew by 114 percent from 1997 to 2017, according to an analysis commissioned by American Express. Latina-owned businesses grew by a whopping 491 percent during that same period.
Luxe Nail & Beauty Bar owner Mandy Atkinson, 33, greeted customers in the pristine lobby of the salon, the white décor accented with touches of gold and blush. November marked one year since she opened the door on the business in the 3200 block of Pablo Kisel Boulevard.
What sets Luxe apart from other salons, Atkinson said, is her commitment to “green beauty.” She hand-makes all of the products — scrubs, oils and soaks — with all-natural, organic materials and carefully selects all of the brands that make it onto the retail shelves. None of the products have been tested on animals and are vegan, with the exception of a honey-based wax treatment and some makeup wipes.
“I’m really happy every day,” she said, “when I hear customers’ feedback (like), ‘We’ve been searching for a long time for these services’ or ‘We felt comfortable during our appointment.’”
Atkinson inherited her entrepreneurial spirit from her business-owner parents and has long known it was a path she wanted to take. She had an opportunity to combine her lifestyle focused on clean, nontoxic products with a salon that still offered all her favorite services.
“There was nowhere I could go that fit my needs,” she said.
Atkinson went to esthetics school to learn about the business she was going into. She designed the entire salon with attention to detail in mind, from the manicure bar outfitted with a source capture system to suck up dust and fumes to the five-step cleaning process for tools. Employees take special care with customers who have a history of cancer, diabetes or special needs.
It was a six-year journey from the time Atkinson conceived the idea to the time she opened her doors. Being her own boss has its challenges, and she is never truly off the clock.
While it was scary taking the leap into entrepreneurship, Atkinson said she would encourage other women to follow their path into the business world.
“I always feel like every day is a learning experience for me. I didn’t come in knowing everything,” she said. “If you’re committed and it’s something you really love, I think everyone can find their own little niche in the community.”
MIXING IT UP
Across the street from Luxe Nail & Beauty Bar, customers filed in and out of the whimsically decorated juice bar JuiceUs. Owner Alexandra Anzaldua, 37, celebrated her one-year anniversary in August, and she’s seen the staff grow to 20 employees during that time.
“That has filled my heart,” she said as a blender whirled in the background of the bustling shop. “The most rewarding time is getting to know the people, the community. A lot of people changed their habits because of us.”
Anzaldua, a mom of three, said she developed the idea for JuiceUs when she was without a job. She took on a health-focused lifestyle when pregnant seven years ago, and her flourless cookies and smoothies developed a cult following among her friends. She went on to become a certified health and child nutrition coach.
“I thought, ‘This can be something,’” Anzaldua said.