Leticia Giron doesn’t see businesses as entities, or numbers. She sees them as people, just like her, who work hard to be successful, who need love and support from others. She sees them as friends.
Originally from El Salvador, Leticia immigrated to the United States to study at Woodbury University and begin her career in finance and banking. While working for Wells Fargo and Citibank, she connected with small business owners across Southern California, meeting families and getting involved in local educational initiatives, including teaching VEDC’s Entrepreneurship Training Programs when Wells Fargo was a sponsor. Her support caught the attention of a beauty product manufacturer, who convinced her to quit her finance job and work with his company. “After a while, we decided to dissolve the partnership, and I asked myself, ‘should I go back to banking, or should I continue on this new journey?’ I decided to continue.”
“I am the only woman in the beauty equipment wholesale industry who owns this type of business.”
Leticia went back into business as Belleza & Beauty, reselling beauty and skin care products and reintegrating herself into the industry. Her banking experience and close work with other business owners helped her grow quickly, and she worked hard to compete in the crowded market. Her close connections with competitors also held a secret: “I am the only woman in the beauty equipment wholesale industry who owns this type of business. It requires a lot of physical work and endurance to be able to compete in a market dominated by men.”
Should you meet Leticia, it will not be her competitiveness, but her kindness with clients and industry professionals that stands out about her character. Through two recessions, the latest ending in 2010, her relationships with people continued to keep her doors open and her customers happy. “There are people who say ‘I don’t have any money, but I cannot close the doors. What is going to happen with me, with my family, with my workers?’ Since they are longtime and loyal customers, there is always a way to find a viable avenue to help them. As a woman, I identify with many of my clients, and they feel confident to come and talk to me.” Helping loyal customers in their times of need played a huge role in her life and the ultimate success of Belleza & Beauty.
When the business was ready to grow again, Leticia came back to VEDC. “I had worked with VEDC before; I know what their nature is, and how they help small business grow. I needed to expand and restructure the business; times are changing, and I have to change with it.” After working with her to discover the best way to use the money, VEDC provided a loan for purchasing inventory, increasing sales volume and allowing the business to expand operations. “In my opinion, it is a success story, because now, I can start seeing the positive results of the new structure, the extra money invested, the new equipment acquired. The expansion turned out to be more profitable.”
“In my opinion, it is a success story.”
Today, Belleza & Beauty is a national wholesaler and manufacturer of beauty products, selling millions of dollars of merchandise each year and serving hundreds of customers, from spas and salons to Hollywood celebrities and fashion experts. While most devices are large, complicated machines used in spas for skin care or all-in-ones at dermatologist offices, their biggest seller is an anti-aging cream of Leticia’s own design. Every client gets training in proper use and maintenance of the equipment. Every client is called or visited personally by Leticia for follow-up conversation. Every second Saturday of the month, she hosts a Bible study and support group at her office to care for the entrepreneurs in her community. Her trust and treatment of others spreads through every aspect of her business and her life.
“I’m proof that anything can happen with a little help of someone who believes in you. That’s what VEDC did for me. I am a woman of my word, and I go by my word. And sure enough, in less than 6 months, I was able to repay every penny, and get even more merchandise. I needed that little lift, that little push, and it was not just little, it was big. If were not for VEDC, perhaps I would stay in the old world. VEDC increased my success.”
Her words of advice to new entrepreneurs: “Don’t be afraid, because with fear, you might save yourself from a little headache, but you will never know what you could achieve by moving forward. So don’t be afraid. Just do it.
“It’s hard. Nothing comes easy. There are days that I don’t sleep, I don’t even have time to eat or take care of myself. But I can see my clients’ faces once they see their equipment installed, when they see their treatments, and the line of people waiting to get those treatments done. When they call me and say, ‘Leticia, thank you, it’s working, it’s happening,’ then I say okay, fine, I’m gonna go take a shower and get some sleep.”