A report from Maureen Kelleher, Chicago’s New Communities Program
While national economic headlines feature job losses and stock market shakeups, NCP neighborhood economics rely heavily on the smallest businesses – microbusinesses employing no more than five people. Surprising numbers of these tiny enterprises are fighting the economic tide to survive and even thrive amidst recession.
Take Vixen Beauty Lounge, a hair and makeup spa that opened on Division Street in Humboldt Park in May 2009, after a year in limbo while getting a license. Once able to open, Vixen’s personal approach and air of Hollywood 1950s glamour drew in 300 new clients in less than a year. In March, owner Vanessa Vargas was looking to hire two additional stylists.
This success was all the sweeter for the struggle it took to get there. Originally, Vargas and her initial business partner, Melissa Sanchez, began renting the space in 2008. (Sanchez has since moved on to other ventures.) Since it previously had been a salon, they thought obtaining a license would be simple. It wasn’t.