Last summer, Annastasha Trevino and her husband did the unthinkable: they opened a salon and spa at the height of the pandemic, just two months after Governor Gretchen Whitmer lifted an executive order closing those businesses.
Trevino and her husband, Hezekiah, were well aware of the effects of the pandemic on the cosmetology industry. But they stayed true to their goal of providing personal care for Lansing.
So in August 2020, the Bella Viita salon and spa was born.
“It was really just learning to do that with all the stipulations – making sure things were safe, making sure people were comfortable, still able to come in and relax no matter what. was happening out in the world,” Trevino said.
The salon’s name pays homage to Trevino’s black and Italian heritage, translating to “a good life.” The phrase is also tattooed on his forearm, serving as a mantra reminding him to live with strength and positivity.
This positivity has helped Trevino keep his business afloat at a time when many have had to close their doors. She applied for grants and loans along the way, receiving a micro-enterprise grant from the Lansing Economic Area Partnership last fall.
Now, she is one of nine local businesses to receive a forgivable loan from the City of Lansing funded by CARES Act dollars – $19,999 for Bella Viita.
Bella Viita isn’t the only beauty and personal care company to get a boost in the second round of loans, announced last month. They accounted for four of the nine loans, with nearly $50,000 of the 0,731 disbursed going to these companies.
Loans range from $5,000 to $50,000 each.
This round of funding also differs from the first in that a majority of the loans went to business owners of color — at least five out of nine. In the final round, at least seven of the 11 loans went to white business owners.
Lansing communications director Valerie Marchand said the city wants fairness in the disbursement of funds and “continually reviews how to help minority business owners apply and succeed.” She said the loans given to several beauty businesses were a coincidence.
For Trevino, money has been crucial, especially as the delta variant muddies its industry for longer than some expected.
“It just means another blessing,” Trevino said. “It was really very helpful, and it took a lot of the stress off in the meantime.”
What other companies have received funding?
- Meika’s Boutique N More received $5,807.94
- Busy Betty received $11,437.26
- Lynn Osborne PC received $9,400
- Sophisticated Stylez received $7,420
- Polka Dots Boutique received $13,650
- Quality Detailing received $10,000
- Artifact Sales Services received $7,027
- Bantou Beauty Supply received $16,000.
A third round of loans could come in depending on “funding and business needs,” Marchand said.
“Some of the winners announced in the last announcement participated in the loan application technical assistance, which was offered to all applicants under the program,” she said. “The application support was provided at the pace of the participant and the approval process was the same for all companies.
“Applicants had to demonstrate that they needed the requested funds, costs had to be verified and reasonable, any duplication of benefits had to be considered,” she continued.
LEAP helped the city distribute the funding, according to Victoria Meadows, director of strategy.
Last year’s executive orders shutting down non-essential businesses hit salons and hair salons hard as services had to be curtailed due to COVID-19 safety precautions, Trevino said.
Many beauticians did not return to work even when restrictions eased because they could not perform services that interfered with a mask.
“We kind of stopped everything, and then things started rolling again, and then they slowed down again and went back to rolling like a roller coaster,” said Asya Pearl, stylist at Bella Viita.
Pearl was a client of the establishment before joining in July. The salon itself has changed since joining the expansion of private spa rooms. She previously styled hair from home and said her clientele has grown significantly during the pandemic. When she was hired at Bella Viita, she brought these clients with her.
Trevino and Lizbeth Nave, another staff member, said it’s part of how the show aims to grow as a network.
The salon is one of the few that specializes in serving clients who suffer from hair loss or have skin sensitivities. Trevino cares for psoriasis herself and brings empathy to her care for clients.
“Once my psoriasis got really bad, it was hard to find stylists who took care of it or weren’t afraid to do it and understood it as well,” she said.
She hopes to one day provide inexpensive products and specialized services to these customers.
“It gives a great opportunity for all people from different demographics to come to our salon and experience the service they need because anyone can serve any demographic or background,” said Nave.