Hi, my name is Anavel Barajas. I am an entrepreneur here in Illinois. I am a 30 year Latina that for many years didn’t believe in herself or her potential. With a low GPA and called dumb, I have been able to lift up two businesses by the grace of God. I own a salon here in Illinois called “P.31Beauty Salon” and a lash brand called “Virtue Lashes” both brands are linked and run under the same vision. Because for many years I didn’t believe in myself, I want to impart self-worth to every woman I encounter.
The vision of both my businesses is “women empowerment.” Now that word gets thrown around pretty often and can at many times lose its value but my mission in life and as a business owner is to impart what I wish would’ve been imparted in me when I was younger. Because I was talked down on and told I wouldn’t be anything, I proudly stand confidently in who I am, and only then will I be able to lift women up.
At my salon we are a woman service salon only and not because we are discriminating but because the mission in my heart is to come in contact with every woman in my chair and speak from a place or experience and impart confidence not only physically but internally. I’ve come across thousands of women who are stuck in life and don’t know their worth or don’t know where they want to go and speak to these women is why I exist. Many have started schools, many have left jobs that they are miserable in, many have left toxic relationships, and many have started their own business. I am blessed and honored to witness it and this is what women empowerment is.
Women empowerment is empowering one another, not competing with one another. We need to lift women that will lift other women. We’ve been looked down upon for so long and sadly Latinas are known to be housewives and cooks and not known as entrepreneurs but I am here to break that cycle.
How do you differentiate yourself from other hair salons?
I can humbly say that it’s the vision our salon carries. Our vision is unique and not found anywhere else. We are an all-women salon, where we specialize only on women. Not because we are discriminating, not at all but our vision is women empowerment. We empower women to reach their purpose and their dreams all while getting pampered.
In your own words, what do you do?
I am a Latina entrepreneur, owner of two businesses. I am a full-time colorist, as well as a full-time student. I currently run two businesses. One which requires me to be physically present, and my other business which is a lash brand called “Virtue Lashes” that requires me to be mentally present. Both businesses carry the same vision of women empowerment but channel different clients/customers. I’ve been in the beauty industry for 11 years, and true satisfaction comes when I see women who find their true value in God.
Why do your customers select you over your competitors?
I’m not one to compete, there are so many amazing stylist /colorists whom which I admire and look up to. I feel honored and blessed for having a clientele that has picked me over any other stylist/colorists and I don’t take that lightly or for granted. I’m truly grateful for each one of them! But because I work with Latinas, and we have similar backgrounds, it’s easy to connect and not only that but break the mold that society and our culture has put on us.
When do you think someone should start thinking of starting their own business? When is the right moment?
Life is about taking leaps of faith. To grow you must be uncomfortable!!! I can’t say that enough, comfortability should not be in our vocabulary or in our way of living PERIOD! I am a true example of Gods faithfulness, the salon in which I own now was given to me by the previous owner, and I’m truly blessed that everything was set before me; from chairs to shampoo bowls but at the time I only had $600 in an envelope hidden in my bedroom drawer to rebuild this salon that was given to me. Yes, I was scared But I knew that if God has given me this opportunity, I HAD to take a step of faith and trust that it was HIS timing, and He would provide every penny to open my business. To summarize, I’d say pray about it, and if you feel peace and that it’s right, go for it!
What mistakes do people make when they want to start a business?
There are many, I still make mistakes and I’m still learning from my past mistakes, BUT one piece of advice I can give is, don’t compare yourself to others! It’ll drive you crazy and you’ll lose focus and vision of what YOUR business is and stands for. I did this a lot in the beginning, and honestly what works for others may not work for you and vise versa. Your business’s vision is yours and customized specifically for you, and that’s what will make you different from the rest. Even if theirs many in the same industry, your vision, your mission, and your process to be where you are is yours and it can’t be replicated or fabricated.
What are your plans for the next five years, and where do you see your challenges and opportunities?
My ultimate goal in life is to reach and empower women. Why? Because I lived in the shadows for too long. I would love to expand this vision to other states such as Miami, California, and Texas or wherever God leads me. I would love to continue doing hair, but my vision is more outreach. In a society where Latinas are known as cooks and housewives, I want to break that cycle and mentality that we grew up thinking that’s all we were going to be, and education isn’t important. I educate my staff in taking ownership of their life and how important it Is to grow in their profession and train them to do what I do so that one day I can do missions work overseas and empower other women. If God did it for me, He can do it for them.
What is your secret to being an effective CEO in terms of building the company culture and values you need to make the company successful?
Stay true to yourself and your vision. Not everyone will understand it and it’s ok! You were not meant to blend in with the crowd but to stand out!
Busy startup entrepreneurs have lots of demands on their time and are often pulled in lots of different directions, do you have any tips for effective time management and what to focus on first?
Yes! This is a good one! I’m still learning to delegate responsibilities and remove them off my back. Hiring an assistant has been the best decision I’ve ever made but it wasn’t always like that. I’ve had to learn to breathe and do one thing at a time! Start with what’s most important, and delegate smaller responsibilities to your staff. When they are given responsibilities they must meet, they take ownership of the business and they don’t feel like staff but as part of the family. We all bring something different to the table and it’s needed in a business.
Where do you get your inspiration from daily?
As a Christ believer, my inspiration comes from my personal relationship with God. Making time in the morning to pray and read the bible is honestly what keeps me sane!
Share some tips for women who are in doubt of leaving their secure job and starting their own business
Matthew 19:26 “With God all things are possible.”
Whoever is reading this at this moment, I don’t know who you are or what your struggle is but I do know there’s a God that is for you and not against you. He does not want you to live in fear or in doubt, He wants you to live victorious and free! Take steps of faith and God will meet you exactly where you are! There are people waiting to hear your story, their people waiting to connect with you, there are people waiting to bless you and your business. Chase the vision God has placed in your heart and run with it! He gave it to you because YOU are capable, and you are worthy. I bless every woman reading this, that your dormant dreams and visions awaken and you begin to walk by faith and not by sight.
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