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Financing Helps Salon Owner Improve Space, Equipment and Inventory

Success Story
October 10, 2019

Angelica Rojo knows mentoring is essential to success. Not only did she seek it out from small business advocates in her community, she also had a strong mentor right in front of her. That would be her former boss, Sammi Freitag.

Sammi encouraged Angelica as she pursued her dream of owning a small business, and now, in perhaps the best compliment possible, she’s one of Angelica’s customers at the Red Angel Salon and Blowdry Bar.

Angelica opened Red Angel this spring after she noticed a gap in the beauty services offered in her community. Though there were salons and spas, there weren’t any blow-dry bars or salons that offered an environmentally-friendly focus.

Now, with Red Angel, La Quinta, a resort community tucked between Palm Desert and Indio, has both.


Angelica Rojo, second from right, and her team from Red Angel.

“I felt like a lot of people were driving all the way to Palm Desert just to get blow dries, so I kind of thought to myself, ‘Hey, we need a blow-dry bar here!’ And I knew I wanted to open up my salon and I knew I wanted something different that La Quinta didn’t have. I knew a blow-dry bar would be perfect and I decided to open it up and here we are. So far, I think it was a great idea.”

Related: Woman Entrepreneur Leverages San Diego Loan Program to Grow Business

Angelica made it happen with the help of CDC Small Business Finance Vice President Andrew Erickson. She credits him with being responsive to her questions and proactive regarding her potential needs.


“Oh my God, Andrew was amazing,” she said. “He helped me tremendously. Every question I had – I would call him, he was there to answer. He would email me to make sure I was OK through the whole process. Even after we opened the salon, he would email and say, was I OK, was there anything else that I need?”

For his part, Andrew was always confident about Angelica’s chances due to her dedication to securing her loan.

“I knew she would get funded and be successful because I’ve never seen a startup as committed to the process as she was,” he said.

Success story

The retail side of Red Angel, with an emphasis on sustainability, one of Angelica’s passions.

Angelica didn’t build Red Angel in a day, though the name came relatively easily. Rojo means red in Spanish, so her business’ name is a play on words – a reversal of her full name.

In fact, she would have preferred to open up shop five years ago, but now with perspective, Angelica realizes she might not have been a success story if it wasn’t for the wait. She had time to bone up on business basics at the Coachella Valley Women’s Business Center and connect with mentors with specific beauty industry expertise.

Angelica also planned well, aiming to master her skills by the time the youngest of her three children entered kindergarten. She wanted each of them to be in school before she took on ownership of her own small business. 

She learned about CDC Small Business Finance from the women’s center too. Her loan funded improvements to her space, in a shopping center with major anchor stores, and gave her seed money for equipment for salon services and inventory for Red Angel’s retail operation.


Sammi, Angelica’s first mentor, said that in just a few months the salon has surpassed her hopes for her friend.

“It’s better than I ever expected,” Sammi said, while seated in her former employee’s salon. “It’s blown me away how it’s turned out, how busy she is right out of the gate.”

Related: Women small business owners thrive using non-bank financing to grow

Success story

Angelica, on the right, still styles hair, even though she’s a salon owner now. She’s also an example of the largest growing group of entrepreneurs among women of color – Hispanics.

Angelica isn’t just a success in her own right. She’s also a prime example of a decade-long trend women of color surpassing all other demographics in establishing small businesses.

There are 2.8 million more small business firms owned by women of color now than in the years before the recession, according to a report on women-owned businesses by American Express. In the recovery period that followed, the number of Latina-owned firms rose by 137% the greatest overall increase among women of color.

Latinos, though, also face challenges when they need funding to make their small business dream a success. While 11% of business owners receive loans through commercial banks, just over half that number do when it comes to Latino businesses.

That’s where CDC Small Business Finance comes in. As a mission-based lender, we offer access to responsible, low-cost loans for small business owners who might not be able to obtain them through traditional banks.


“I don’t feel like it was a hard thing for me,” Angelica said of working on her loan. “CDC was a very good company. They actually specifically tell you what to expect from them.”

Since she received such great mentoring, Angelica aspires to be one herself. Whether it’s finding the right loan, or any other challenges that might present themselves, she suggests one thing if aspiring entrepreneurs are to achieve success – “not to give up.”

“There’s always the right timing,” she said. “I tried to do this five years ago and for some reason it didn’t work out. And I’m glad it didn’t. Otherwise, I probably would have gave up, because I wasn’t educated then. And now I think I am a little bit more.”

Thinking about starting, expanding or buying a small business? Like Angelica, you can talk to one of our loan experts who can explain all your options in minutes and find a financing match for you and your business. Let’s talk! Reach us at or (619) 243-8667. You can also apply online.

In case you missed it:

Latino entrepreneurs could contribute $1.47 trillion to the U.S. economy 

Latinas leading in female business ownership

3 high-impact ways we’re empowering Hispanic small business owners 

Top tips on finding a mentor for your small business

How to take women-owned businesses to the next level