From Tragedy to Triumph: Becoming a Business Owner Against All Odds
Like many professionals who eventually decide to become a business owner, Yashira Hiraldo never dreamed she’d be running her very own boutique. Less than five years ago, she was living and loving life in Puerto Rico—until Hurricane Maria completely changed everything.
Over the course of four weeks, her homeland was completely devastated. People had trouble getting access to fresh water, gasoline, and electricity. But instead of folding under the weight and pressure of her circumstances, Yashiri regrouped and collected herself to start an entirely new life in the United States.
Although America was completely foreign to her, Yashira pushed forward. And that meant learning English by reading the closed captions on her favorite television shows, while researching ways to apply her business savvy mindset and entrepreneurial spirit.
Today, Yashira owns and operates GlamRum, a Chicago, Illinois based boutique that specialties in lashes, brows, waxing, and skin care. Yashira has only been running her space for less than a year. But her business is absolutely booming. One of her clients recently described her as an “eyebrow goddess.”
Take a moment to hear her story and learn how a truly desperate moment forced Yashira to show her true colors. Find out how this dedicated woman became a business owner less than four years after arriving in a new country with only $2,000. This story is for anyone and everyone who has been pushed against a wall but learned to push back.
Leaving Home to Pursue a Dream
Roughly five years ago, Yashira was enjoying life on a Caribbean island. Yashira spent her days and nights surrounded by family members and close friends, who she'd known for decades. And she was happily using the beauty industry as a fun way to pay for college.
After earning two business degrees at the undergraduate and graduate level, Yashira soon realized that working in a billion dollar industry was the right move. She had been working in a nail salon since graduating high school. The world of beauty was calling her name. But Yashira also felt drawn to the idea of running a business.
Sadly, before Yashira could fully spread her wings, Hurricane Maria devastated Dominica, Saint Croix, and Puerto Rico from September 16 to October 2, 2017. In the course of roughly three weeks, this unmistakable tragedy took over 3,000 lives and caused $91.61 billion in damages.
Yashira said that Hurricane Maria wiped out the entire island, which meant she had to change her entire way of life almost overnight. She couldn’t get basic necessities like gas or clean water and there wasn’t any access to electricity. “I never wanted cold water more. That humbled me down a lot and that also taught me that if I can get through this, I can get through whatever,” she said.
Another thing that Yashira knew was that a career in the beauty industry could be both profitable and fun. So, she relocated to America. Specifically, she chose Chicago, where she immediately started attending classes, conferences, and beauty shows. It was her newfound dream to expand on her knowledge and market herself in the land of opportunity.
“I would have never thought I was going to move to Chicago. I think I visited Chicago twice before moving here. And I fell in love with the city but never thought in a million years I was going to move here,” she said.
Yashira started working for a high end salon, where she was able to expose herself to all things beauty and wellness—nails, waxing, extensions, microblading, and permanent makeup. Less than a year after relocating, she had a growing list of clientele. And that success gave her even more motivation to become a small business owner.
Putting in the Work to be a Success
Yashira admits things came together serendipitously. But her road took a ton of grit and hard work. Although that’s the case for a number of industry professionals who decide that being a business owner is the right move, Yashira had to overcome a number of unique hurdles, including mastering her second language.
“When I first learned English, I was still in primary school. They teach you English in Puerto Rico starting from the first grade. But it’s just the basics. Since I wanted to be a business woman, I knew that business around the world is conducted in English, so I needed to learn English fast,” she said.
To help make sure she could speak with clients and communicate valuable information about her services and skill sets, she started off watching The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air with closed captions. And when she wasn’t learning to speak English, she was growing her brand.
“So, I just kept working on marketing myself and putting myself out there—on every social media platform. And I never got scared. Sometimes we get super-shy, and we don’t want to promote ourselves. We don’t want to talk about what we do. But I could care less. I’m like, ‘maybe this isn’t my best work. But I’m gonna keep promoting myself until I get great,’” she said.
For Yashira, there was no doubt in her mind that this was the right road for her. And she recommends that any industry newcomer keep pushing forward through tough circumstances.
“There’s no way that you can make it if you’re just waiting for things to come to you. You have to get out there, go out there and get it. If you want to grow, you need to put in some effort, because nothing’s going to come to you,” Yashira said.
Thriving as a Small Business Owner
Today, Yashira runs a full-service, aesthetic studio with help from her four staffers. She chose to open her space in a modern, private salon suite where clients come to relax and unwind while chatting about their day to day struggles, which Yashira is always happy to listen to.
According to Yashira, being a small business owner in the beauty industry combines her two passions: beauty and business. She adds that reading Vogue is just as much fun as the Wall Street Journal. And that means continuing to grow into her role as a business owner is without a doubt her next move.
“I love the business side, I love marketing, and I love checking the books. And I love product development. My dream is to have a full working staff, so I can just take care of the business side. And obviously make them be their best while making them make money too,” she said.
Even though Yashira wants to move more into the managerial, money management side of running a business, she still plans on keeping the doors to her salon open to welcome clients from all backgrounds to indulge in services that make them look and feel their absolute best.
To help make sure she’s able to reach these and other lofty goals, she plans to continue using Booksy. The most important thing Booksy does for Yashira is help facilitate her role as a business owner. Booksy lets her save valuable time setting up appointments, checking out clients, and making sure that clients get appointment reminders.
“My true satisfaction is still seeing my client’s faces when they leave the studio feeling pretty and with a new sense of self-confidence. Overall, I’ve been in the industry for more than 15 years. And I believe I will retire doing this because it’s what I love,” she said.