Each year from September 15 to October 15, Hispanic Heritage Month is celebrated to recognize the histories, cultures, and contributions of American citizens whose ancestors came from Spain, Mexico, the Caribbean, and Central and South America.
Hispanic-owned businesses make significant contributions to the workforce and economy, in local communities and nationally. According to the Joint Economic Committee Hispanic Entrepreneurship and Business Brief, there are nearly 5 million Hispanic-owned businesses in the United States and they contribute more than $800 billion to the American economy annually. Hispanic-owned businesses also have an impressive growth rate: in the decade preceding the pandemic, the number of Hispanic business owners increased 34% compared to an increase of just 1% among non-Hispanic business owners.
From Immigrant to Business Owner
This month, FSC First is celebrating Hispanic Heritage Month by highlighting one of its very successful clients, Jeimy Flournoy, and her Dominican hair salon, Salon 809. Jeimy grew up in the Dominican Republic and came to Washington, DC when she was 16 years old to live with her aunt. She’d always had a dream to own her own business and was determined to make it happen. She went to school to learn English, worked as a janitor before getting a job with the federal government, learned to make a business plan, and saved money to open a salon.
Using her savings, Jeimy opened Salon 809 in 2015. Salon 809 is a full-service salon in Hyattsville, MD, specializing in straightening natural hair without the use of chemicals. Her clientele is diverse, including people of all cultures and backgrounds in the community. Her Dominican heritage shows its influence in the comfortable family-oriented environment of the salon. “We’re customer-service oriented,” says Jeimy. “It’s like a family. We focus on healthy hair and excellent customer service, and we serve everyone.”
Success Leads to Business Growth
The success of Salon 809 led Jeimy to think about opening a second salon a few years later. This was when she initially connected with FSC First, after being referred by the Honorable Mel Franklin, Prince George’s County’s At-Large Council Member. FSC First was instrumental in helping finance her second salon by connecting her with the City of Bowie Revolving Loan Fund. She opened her second location in Bowie, MD, in 2019 after securing a direct loan for $100,000. “FSC First was willing to give me the extra help I needed,” says Jeimy. “I had an accountant who didn’t have a clue about the loan process. The staff at FSC First stepped in and made sure I got the necessary pieces to complete the loan.”
“They Were Amazing!”
Jeimy is enthusiastic about her experiences working with FSC First. The City of Bowie Revolving Loan Fund helped her expand her business, and during the pandemic, FSC First further assisted her business by helping her obtain grants to get through those challenging times. “FSC First supports small businesses, period. It was my first time getting a business loan and it was a big amount. Everyone there stepped up to help me put things together so I could get this loan. They were amazing! If I ever need another loan or anything else I know I can count on them. They’ve already helped my business.”
Her advice for others who want to start their own business? Staying positive and always working towards her goals helped her achieve success. “I knew I wanted to grow. I never stopped pressing and believed that everything is possible,” says Jeimy. “The United States has amazing opportunities for all of us if we look for them. Have your dreams and work on them, and give yourself time. My business plan was done in 2008 and I opened the salon in 2015. It takes time but it’s very possible.”
Next steps for Jeimy Flournoy? This inspiring entrepreneur is already planning her next salon franchise to open in the near future, and she also wants to build her own laundromat. She’s glad FSC First will be there to help her if she needs it. We can’t wait to see where her dreams will take her next!