Burnout and boredom, if used perversely, may appear to be a deadly pair.
But to Mita Quiogue, these twin states of mind fueled her desire to come to the U.S. in 2008 and set up eyelashes and anti-aging business in the heart of New York’s shopping district.
She had a propitious start in Manila where she ran a cluster of businesses in construction and restaurants after earning a business degree from De La Salle University (DLSU) – College of St. Benilde. By her account, they were all successful. She appears to have this ‘green thumb’ for starting businesses and making them grow. Perhaps she is just genetically predisposed, she told The FilAm in an interview, being a descendant of a Chinese immigrant family of entrepreneurs who pioneered the funeral parlor business in the Philippines. Who hasn’t heard of the popular Funeraria Quiogue, often the butt of Dolphy jokes about death and an overdone makeup?
“I thought, if I can make it here (in the Philippines), why not make in another country?” she said.
So Mita moved to Florida where her parents and sister are nicely settled. But Mita was itching to do more. She was looking for a location to start a prospective beauty salon business.
It was through her restaurant Grills on Wheels near DLSU in Agno where she met this woman who would introduce her to eyelash extensions as the next profit center in the beauty industry.
“She was one of the pioneers,” said Mita. After learning the craft, Mita traveled to other countries for her eyelash business. In the U.S., she trained under Longmi Lashes by Daniel, which, Mita swore, makes eyelashes for Oprah Winfrey and Kim Kardashian.
Eyelash extensions was just the beginning. She would learn more skills, such as eyebrow cloning, facials, skin care and whitening, stretch marks removal, teeth whitening, non-invasive face slimming and lifting, non- invasive skin tightening and slimming for the body as well. She took courses in Florida, California, and Manhattan learned how to use digital machines and other devices and became a licensed skin care specialist.
“Artistic ako. I used to get scholarships because of my art work,” she said by way of explaining her fascination with the beauty business. “I must have gotten it from my mom who is an art dealer.”
Ready to start anew, she established her first business in America. Glossy Rejuvenating Spa opened at New York’s Herald Square in 2010. She was right at the heart of Manhattan’s shopping district, close to Macy’s and walking distance to Madison Avenue and Times Square.
By this time, she has moved to New York where she is confident her business would find a market more dynamic and receptive to the latest technology in eyelash enhancements.
While her location appeared ideal, it was hampered by two factors: rising rent and the fact that being on the second floor of an office building her salon was not as accessible to walk-in customers. Mita did not renew her contract and found a new location in Jersey City. Glossy Nails and Rejuvenating Spa is now on 515 Newark Avenue where many Filipino businesses intersect, among them Philippine Bread House, Max’s of Manila and a line of remittances outlets. Mita is bringing her line of beauty services directly to the Filipino community.
“I have a good feeling about this,” she said. “I am the only spa within the immediate vicinity.”
While her salon is slated to open in another two weeks, she has been receiving clients per appointment. She has two staff doing manicure, but applying the machines is strictly Mita’s duty.
“I’m so excited,” she said on the phone. “They put up my signage today.”
Mita said her impulsive nature serves her well for the most part. “Lakas talaga lang ng loob ko,” she said.
But sometimes, she has to rein it in or she runs the risk of making rash decisions. Coming to New York was one of those judgment calls. “I came here without knowing anyone,” recalled Mita laughing at her brazenness. So far, no regrets.
New York has been good thus far, showering her with a network of friends who are business-minded like her. Some lucky breaks she never imagined would land on her lap.
“People come to me looking for jobs, and for some reason, I find them contacts,” she said.
Even after some hardships and trials living abroad, Mita’s good karma visits on older child Angela, 11, who is an A student at a leadership school in Brooklyn and a budding violinist. Younger son, Aaron who is 4 years old, speaks Spanish, thanks to his nanny from the Dominican Republic.
“I count my blessings,” said Mita.
There have been many, and by her reckoning, there’s more to come.
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