Patricia Magaña is styling a client’s hair, at the salon she owns – Pati’s Beauty Lounge – in Santa Paula.
A cosmetologist by trade, Magaña is a great advertisement for her services, with long lush lashes and perfectly coiffured hair, as she greets clients at the salon.
While she knows what she’s doing when it comes to hair and beauty, she says that without the free support and help from a local non profit – Women’s Economic Ventures – known as WEV – her business might not have survived.
“For 3, 4 years I had been investing a lot of money, strategizing to build my business. Then we hit the pandemic. We had to reinvent ourselves and I decided to focus a lot on my education throughout the pandemic,” she said.
“I took a class with WEV in finances which helped me reorganize my business plan which helped me hold on to my business…if it wouldn’t have been for my connection to WEV, I’d have probably closed,” said Magaña.
Magaña completed WEV’s free 8 week business training program, and was a recipient of a $7,500 microgrant to help grow her business.
She said the business skills she learned from the course gave her the idea to “empower my local community by offering employment and education opportunities.”
She developed classes which she teaches and her first students just received their permit from the state so they can work in the salon themselves.
Caroline Feraday / KCLU The owner of Pati’s Beauty Lounge in Santa Paula received free business training and a microgrant from Women’s Economic Ventures
The unique program, called Emprendimiento was developed by WEV for limited English proficiency individuals and is funded by the state of California’s Employment Training Panel’s (ETP), Social Entrepreneurs for Economic Development (SEED) initiative.
Berenize Ayala runs the Emprendimiento program, which is held in Spanish. She says it empowers female business owners to realize their dreams and achieve financial independence.
“Business owners learn everything from finances, marketing, publicity – pretty much the A-Z of what it is to grow a successful business,” explained Ayala.
Magaña isn’t alone in receiving the entrepreneurial training, technical assistance, and microgrants in Santa Barbara and Ventura counties.
In August this year, over $337,500 was awarded to entrepreneurial Hispanic and Indigenous Ventura County community members.
In fact, a total of $937,500 in microgrants have been awarded to entrepreneurs in Santa Barbara and Ventura counties – and 330 people have participated in the program, with 261 graduating, since the program began.
Ayala said although it’s mainly focused to female-owned businesses, they are also open to men.
And for Magaña – she’s demonstrating her skills as a businesswomen extend far beyond just great lashes.