When Melgen emigrated to Norcross in 2008, she took a job at Dominican Hair by Rossy. The business’s owner retired in 2014, and Melgen’s sister-in-law purchased the business for Melgen to manage.
In time, feeling a streak of entrepreneurialism, Melgen decided to buy the salon. She welcomed the challenges of becoming a business owner, but she lacked experience in financial management, employee management, and marketing. A young immigrant who did not speak English well, she relied on some support from her father, who had been a business owner, but so many new responsibilities loomed over her goals.
One day, Melgen was paying her water bill on the City of Norcross web-site when she saw some information about the ACE Women’s Business Center, which offers bilingual services. She contacted the organization and gathered information about workshops and the process for acquiring a loan. She met with representatives of the WBC and thoroughly went over her financial situation. She obtained business counseling, along with a much-needed loan to give her business a facelift, updating the carpet, electrical installations, painting, ceiling, and floor.
One of the workshops that proved the most productive for Melgen, she says, was a course on managing risk. She has continued to receive technical support, and she stays in close contact with the WBC when she needs guidance.
Melgen still is growing an appreciative clientele, which is 75 percent African-American, 15 percent Hispanic, and 10 percent white. Her salon is unique because the services she offers are different. She provides a Latin twist to African-American clients with a more natural, bouncy range of styles. To promote her business, she uses social media, including Facebook, Instagram, Google, and Yelp, where she gets good reviews.
Melgen works hard, six days a week, but she believes she has fulfilled her dream of becoming an entrepreneur. Her goal for the next three years is to spend more time overseeing and growing her business and less time with scissors in hand, even though she enjoys communicating with her customers. Her son is a barber, and she hopes to help him open his own shop with assistance from ACE when the time is right.
“ACE and the WBC are a great resource to the community,” Melgen says. “I value the fact that the team at the WBC is a phone call away when I need advice or face a challenge in my business, and I really appreciate the fact that they provide support in Spanish.”