From 2014 to 2019, the number of businesses owned by women of color increased by 43%, doubling the growth rate of women-owned businesses (21%) — but some of these businesses have struggled to get the support they need during the Covid-19 pandemic.
In celebration of Women’s History Month, we want to highlight three California–based Black Indigenous People of Color (BIPOC) and women-owned businesses that are working hard to stay afloat. These women want to continue serving their customers and fulfilling their passions despite the current circumstances. They applied for the second round of the Comcast RISE program and were all awarded technology makeovers.
Comcast RISE is a program to help support small BIPOC-owned businesses that have been affected most by the pandemic and social unrest. Through the multi-year initiative, BIPOC-owned small business owners can apply to receive marketing and consulting services, technology makeovers, creative production or media services. The current round of applications closes on May 7.
Comcast RISE which stands for “Representation, Investment, Strength and Empowerment” is part of a larger $100 million Diversity, Equity and Inclusion initiative that Comcast launched in June of 2020.
The businesses behind the great women:
Rosa Carretero Fung of Level 5 Salon
Rosa first discovered her love for cosmetology in high school. When she decided to go to college, she continued to do hair on the side, helping her leave college with no student loan debt. Her college degree and her drive set her up for a successful career at a software company for 10 years.
While her passion for doing hair was temporarily set aside, when she was laid off from her job in 2015 it remerged. After a few years of being a stay-at-home mom and doing hair on the side again, she eventually decided to make things official.
She took a risk and rented a chair with no clients. Not long after that the owner of the salon mentioned they no longer wanted to renew the lease. That same day, Rosa went home and told her husband, “I bought a salon.”
Since that day in 2017 Rosa has worked to make her clients and employees feel safe and cared for while at Level 5 Salon. In return, when her business was impacted by the statewide shutdowns, her clients wanted to make sure she was taken care of. A client set up a GoFundMe for the salon and Rosa says it was her businesses saving grace throughout the tumultuous year.
Rosa is now bouncing forward; her team of five are back in the salon serving their clients and their beloved community. They hope to take full advantage of this tech makeover and give back to the community the same way the San Leandro community has done for them. Rosa says she would love to help those impacted by the Covid pandemic and give them some much-deserved me-time.
Visit Level 5 Salon’s website: https://level5salon.com/
Monisha Edwards of Scent & Fire Candle Company
Monisha Edwards got into aromatherapy after dealing with mental health related issues. Her dad was shot and paralyzed from the waist down in 2017. After that tragic incident, Monisha became the main caregiver for her dad, and she began suffering from depression and anxiety. She found aromatherapy as an alternative for medication.
At first, she started experimenting with essentials oils and wax and decided to make her own candles. After many family and friends requested to buy her various candles, she finally decided to open a business in April 2019.
Contrary to many, Covid-19 helped her business succeed because everyone was home shopping online and looking for self-care options. Monisha created a quarantine inspired candle line with scents like Shelter and Chill or Socially Distant that went viral on social media.
In the last year, Monisha grew from a business out of her house in Fresno to a five-employee operation at a warehouse and has sold candles to more than 5,000 customers.
Monisha is currently using one outdated computer to do all her marketing, customer service, and shipping so this technology upgrade from Comcast Business will be extremely beneficial to her business.
Scent & Fire products are eco-friendly, and her business is a certified green business because environmental sustainability is very important to her. Monisha’s goal is to develop an app that promotes overall wellness and create a program to hire previously incarcerated women.
Visit Scent & Fire’s website: https://scentandfire.com/
Ayde Mendibles of Body del Sol
Ayde Mendibles was working for a global tech company headquartered in Clovis, CA when she first had the idea to open a spa.
Opening a spa became her plan for retirement, so she decided to keep working in tech during the day while attending cosmetology school at night and business school and medical conferences on weekends.
In early 2000 the company where she worked was sold, and she got laid off. She began looking for business loans but because of the housing market crisis no one would give her one.
After years of trying, she finally received a business loan and was able to open Body del Sol in Fresno in 2010. Between her and her family they were able to renovate a small retail space that she rented at a discounted price and little by little she built her business.
Fast forward to now, she has eight employees and a successful operation. However, the pandemic was devastating to her business. She had an 80% loss in revenue from 2019 to 2020. This past year, her main concern was always to be able to rehire all her employees once they were able to reopen which she did.
Ayde has an outdated phone system and slow internet so this tech makeover from Comcast Business is going to help propel her business.
Although Ayde doesn’t speak Spanish fluently, she says that around 40% of her clientele is Hispanic. She says that many of her Latinx clients tell her that they feel very comfortable visiting her Latinx-owned spa because the staff speaks Spanish, and they feel understood, welcomed and at home.
Visit Body del Sol’s website: https://www.bodydelsol.com/
Congratulations to these three outstanding women and business owners. If you are interested in applying for Comcast RISE visit www.comcastrise.com/apply