After being laid off during the Great Recession, Cortes earned her esthetician’s license and began offering skin care services at a salon. But cash-strapped customers were not spending on facials, and Cortes was forced to return to the corporate world to earn a living. Still, she kept doing facials as a hobby, and in 2013 decided to try entrepreneurship again.
In 2013, Cortes took a social media class taught by SBDC Business Advisor Sahar Andrade. “I was enthralled,” Cortes recalls. “She provided so much information! I said, ‘I want to work with her.’ “ Determined to “build a solid infrastructure” for her startup this time around, in June 2013 Cortes visited the Small Business Development Center hosted by Pacific Coast Regional Corp.
SBDC Business Advisors Karen Carr-Crawford and Andrade helped Cortes craft a business plan, develop achievable goals from month to month, launch her business and reach her goals through marketing and sales efforts including social media, email marketing, flyer promotion and networking.
Y. Belleza Wellness launched in November 2013, providing multi-dimensional and integrative skin and facial wellness services. Within less than six months, Cortes has met her financial projections and is on track to double her sales.
She is also well on her way to achieving her short-term goal to create a recognizable and reputable brand in the health and wellness industry. “I want to be recognized as a skin care expert from the inside out, and to develop a relationship with my clients so they make better choices so that their skin projects the balance that exists inside their bodies,” she says.
Cortes’ ultimate goal is “to have a comprehensive wellness center that captures mind, body and spirit; serves the community as a sanctuary and safe haven; and educates like-minded practitioners to communicate to the community.” It’s fitting, then, that the SBDC is serving as a safe haven of sorts for this entrepreneur: “There’s a feeling of security,” Cortes says. “You know you have someone watching your back.”