Latina Boutique presents the entrepreneurial culture of Santa Ana

What did it take for 24-year-old Aguascalente-born Latina Alejandra Vargas to open her first clothing store in downtown Santa Ana?

The hope, the sacrifices, the local resources and the support of his family.

Throughout the month, Vargas handed out flyers to invite the public to the very moment she’s been preparing for since making the transition from online retailer to brick-and-mortar business owner: the grand opening of her clothing store, Vibes Boutique , in downtown Santa Ana on July 9.

Vargas always felt the call to entrepreneurship, she knew it was a path for many Americans and wanted it to become a reality for her and her boyfriend.

“Small businesses are 99% of what drives America forward,” Vargas says.

According to the most recent data, there are 32.5 million small businesses which represent 99.9% of all American businesses, according to the US Small Business Administration.

Alejandra Vargas opens the doors at 10:30 a.m. sharp on July 7, 2022. Credit: JULIE LEOPO, Voice of OC

For Vargas, Saturday’s grand opening is a celebration of all his successes so far and warmly welcomes potential customers with some Latino hospitality (free tacos and drinks with a minimum purchase of $10, while supplies last) and free goodie bags showcasing local businesses.

Opening a brick-and-mortar clothing business during a pandemic was an act of courage, with a village behind her to help her succeed. The business plan was simple, take a risk as long as you have the right support.

“You don’t have to go all out, you can also start with an online store like we did and test the waters,” Vargas said.

“We don’t have rich parents, you know, finance is a big hurdle, luckily we were able to borrow money from my boyfriend’s mom, for the building security deposit, which we will pay back , but that shouldn’t stop anyone from going into business. You have to try. You have to take risks, and taking risks got us here.

Vargas, who started her entrepreneurship selling jewelry at her boyfriend’s mother’s boutique in Santa Ana, decided this was the year to have her own boutique selling dresses, accessories, tops fashion and women’s jeans.

Vargas and her boyfriend, David Hernandez, 30, open the shop every day, seven days a week without fail. “We don’t have any employees right now,” Vargas says, recognizing Hernandez with a glance, “that’s one of the many sacrifices we’re making.”

(Left) David Hernandez, 30, stands at his computer as he searches for grants for new business owners while Alejandra Vargas sorts through the goods.
A coaster sits at the register with the City of Santa Ana logo.

Both Vargas and Hernandez cut personal life costs to make ends meet in their new venture. They now rent a room with other family members, which gives them the opportunity to invest more in their business.

It is not an easy task.

Navigating the business world of business permits and licenses was uncharted territory for Vargas. She started looking for resources and came across government assistance programs and City of Santa Ana programs for new businesses opened after the pandemic.

Vargas, in his own right, is constantly looking for new ways to take his business to the next level.

In December 2021, Vargas graduated in a city of Santa Ana workshop, Emprendedoras, an eight-week course on how to start your business with a $1000 grant at the end. It was just one of the grants she applied for.

“You know the mayor was there for the graduation,” Vargas said with a smile, recounting his time in the Emprendedoras program.

Alejandra Vargas, poses for a photo during her graduation from the Emprendedoras 8-week small business workshop. Credit: Courtesy of Alejandra Vargas

It costs Vargas around $50,000 to start a clothing business, but that hasn’t always been the case: “I started my online jewelry business with around $600, which includes Shopify, the online domain and $500 to buy jewelry and resell it. ”

Vargas and Hernandez often work 16 to 18 hour days.

They both wake up before office hours to drive to the Los Angeles Fashion District to buy new inventory, where a seller’s permit is required in some showrooms to purchase merchandise. When Vargas and Hernandez are done shopping, they return to Santa Ana during regular business hours. “I try to have new inventory every week,” Vargas said.

Vibes Boutique offers all kinds of contemporary clothing for women. Credit: JULIE LEOPO, Voice of OC

The adventure is exciting and refreshing for Vargas and Hernandez, who encourage anyone to “make their dreams come true”. For both of them, they know it’s a risk they’re willing to take.

For anyone interested in Alejandras’ new store, the grand opening is today, July 9, from 12-8 p.m. at 208 W. 4th St Santa Ana. Parking is available at the parking structure located at 201 W. 3rd Street Santa Ana.

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