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Hispanic women show business strength during pandemic

SANTA BARBARA, Calif. - From young entrepreneurs to durable long time businesses, there's been an impressive level of survival for Hispanic women in business during the pandemic.

In Santa Barbara, Hispanic Chamber of Commerce President Miguel Avila spoke at a ribbon cutting for a new business in downtown, Teeny Bikini, specializing in many aspects of wellness and appearance, including full body waxing.

Avila said, "there's been a major paradigm taking place right now in the whole country. Latino women are leading the nation in opening businesses."

He told owner and esthetician Christina Menchaca she is part of the trend.

The National Women's Business Council (NWBC) Member Maria Rios recently reported Latina businesses have grown at a rapid annual rate of 10 percent over the past year.

In her letter she writes:

Women business owners, entrepreneurs, workers, and employees are at the forefront of this coronavirus pandemic, providing essential services that keep our communities and economy afloat.

Menchaca says, "it's nice to know you are not alone and there are other people doing the exact same thing." She has asked herself, "'did I make a mistake? Am I crazy? Did I put myself in a a mess of debt?'"

Menchaca is in the start up phase, in a remodeled building at 19 E. Canon Perdido Street. Her business specializes in skin care, face treatments and body waxing.

"Everyone leaves feeling good and that make me feel good, " she said.

This dream became a reality, with hard work,  family connections and advice from other business owners.

Menchaca said, "my dad is an electrician and he knows lot, he works with a lot of businesses. He is also a pastor so people talk to him a lot and he knows loads of people."

 The name Teeny Bikini is a play on her nickname. Christina or Tina was often called Teeny.

"They get quite a kick out of it. They make little nicknames.  It's fun, they remember it. Definitely.   It's catchy," she said with a laugh. 

 The small space in the El Centro Building on Canon Perdido Street is a converted storage room as part of the Posh Art and hair studio. It is also owned by a local woman who is part Hispanic and part Native American.

Menchaca says her clients come in for special moments in their life or on a regular basis. "Sometimes people come in because they're going to get married and need a facial, or going on vacation and they need a wax."

 Along with the body treatments, many home made products are for sale including creams, soaps,  blown glass and a soothing oil called, Meow.

The bath bombs are CBD infused. " Fill the bath up and throw these in and relax, " she said.

 The products are made in part with her mother. They will also be sold at the monthly Mujeras pop up market on Milpas street as part of an expanding business for this young Hispanic entrepreneur.

Menchaca is already looking to the future. "I definitely want to grow. I love this spot, it is a great space, but eventually I want to get bigger and  have more rooms."

There are many resources for women starting out in business including Santa Barbara's Women's Economic Ventures.

Article Topic Follows: Money and Business

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John Palminteri

John Palminteri is senior reporter for KEYT News Channel 3-12. To learn more about John, click here.


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