After a divorce and loss of her stake in an insurance business, Erica Lopez returned to her hometown of Watsonville, a single mother with little money and limited options. She knew she didn’t want to work for anyone, but wanted to start her own business. She was working two jobs to save up money to invest in her business, all the while asking herself, “What is missing in Watsonville, and what business can I start with the small investment I’ve saved?”
She recalled talking to a small business owner in Oxnard when she was married and thought her business — an eyebrow design studio — would work in her hometown. Through a friend she got connected to El Pájaro CDC and applied for one of two openings in the Plaza Vigil Incubator. She was accepted into the program and in 2014, and after she participated in a 13-week business planning course and receiving start-up assistance from El Pájaro CDC consultants and staff, she opened her one-woman salon.
Bibi’s Threading Salon was not only a huge success, Lopez is working on opening her second location in Salinas, which would double the number of employees she currently has. Threading is an ancient hair-removal process in which unwanted facial hair is removed by using twisted cotton thread to pull the hair from the follicle. It is considered the best alternative to waxing and tweezing, especially for sensitive skin.
After opening the Salinas salon, she will look to expand into Gilroy and then into the Monterey Peninsula. She is also looking into a branding a line of brow-related cosmetics and her ultimate goal is creating a franchise.
By creating entry-level jobs for students and community members with obstacles to employment, Lopez has provided and alternative to working in the fields. As a Watsonville native and a Latina entrepreneur on a mission to grow her business, she is also providing a positive model for young women in the community.
Lopez is Erica is a proactive businesswoman who takes any opportunity to learn, developing a replicable structure and process for training employees and managing operations, all of which were designed with the goal of franchising in mind.
She has also taken a leadership role as the President of the Plaza Vigil Merchants Association, helping to guide its marketing and advertising activities.