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Lux Beauty Club

Lux Beauty Club wins Project American Dreams and lets its hair down on TV

Victoria Flores (NY), co-founder at Lux Beauty Club shares her experience about her participation at the national competition “Project American Dreams.” She became one of five finalists winners of the business competition that aims at discovering, mentoring and fast-tracking product innovations created by Latino entrepreneurs on the shopping network HSN.

 

 

Several months ago, we proudly announced that four of our LIBizus –Latina business owners we had promoted on our pages- had entered and moved to semi-finalists at the national competition “Project American Dreams,” the genius creation of Lili Gil Valetta in partnership with Bob Circosta -the Billion Dollar Man-, HSN and USBank.

Now after the competition’s adrenaline is over and the finalists are working into their Stanford University 4-week Program, Victoria Flores shares her experience during the whole process.

“I cannot be more grateful to Lili Gil and Bob Circosta, founders of Dreamers Ventures, to USBank and HSN experts, coaches and jurors who were so helpful in guiding us through the process,” Victoria told LatinasinBusiness.us. “It was one in a lifetime experience and it gave us an opportunity to branch out our business in unforeseen ways,” she said.

How all started for Victoria Flores and the Lux Beauty Club

After many years holding positions in the financial industry, Victoria found her “Aha!” moment in 2012, when she became a partner with Leslie Wilson and launched Lux Beauty Club to create a one-stop shopping community where customers could buy hair and beauty products on a regular basis.

Today, Lux Beauty Club offers individual hair extensions to people with all type of budgets. This business caters to luxury hair extensions, which are delivered door-to-door.

“What is different about our business is that it offers a range of hair extensions that are affordable and personalized. There are no exorbitant fees or deposits,” Victoria said to LIBizus. Within a few months, her business skyrocketed. Today Victoria Flores is a widely sought spokesperson for many national hair and salon chains.

How Project American Dreams worked for Lux Beauty Club

“The whole process was stressful, even when I had previous experience at TV appearances,” Victoria said. “During our presentation, we needed to hit between $1 and $3000 per minute in our sales, and we did it! We were at a $2000 mark per minute and that is a lot of customers!” she said.

Lux Beauty Club

Now Victoria and her partner Leslie are involved in the 4-week online Stanford University program. “The cohort met during a weekend at Stamford and now we need to work online through the program to finally graduate on the weekend of June 24,” she shared with LatinasinBusiness.us.

The program includes knowledge on how to build your company, case studies that candidates can apply to their own businesses, how to build your dream team and, most importantly, how to access capital for their business, Victoria explained.

“We must submit a one-page descriptor of our business plan to meet with potential investors one-on-one on a 10-minute pitch opportunity and hopefully match the right investor for our business,” she said.

What’s in the stars for Lux Beauty Club

This unique opportunity to find potential investors for their business fits perfectly in the partners’ plans for the future. “We have a 5-year plan to grow our business and raise a few rounds of private equity,” Victoria explained.

As Victoria sees it, the beauty industry is lacking a big deal of innovative ideas. “The hair extension business in this country is chaotic, prohibitively expensive and with a growth potential of almost $500 billion. About 70 percent of the hair industry customers are African-American women but less than one percent of them own a hair extension shop. Worse, Latino females are out both as customers and owners,” Victoria explains.

The Lux Beauty Club’s goal is to generate the interest of a bigger company –such as Unilever did with the Dollar Shaver Club for a whooping $1 Billion deal – that can implement the service nationally and globally.

“Project American Dream has energized our customer-base and we constantly receive emails from our grateful customers,” Victoria said. “We are still wearing many hats, from CEO to customer service but we are very focused on building an excellent customer experience so we put our best foot forward,” Victoria said. “The testimonial emails are amazing!”

Project American Dreams has announced it second year continuation with HSN Shopping Network. Stay tuned for more information about this one in a lifetime opportunity to go from startup to stardom!

 

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kSbJR36GUH4

 

gourmet popcorn

Carmen Milagros Torres gourmet popcorn and family, the Latina way

Why do people love gourmet popcorn? Many say because it is different, tasty, comforting. Others just love the smells of childhood. Carmen Milagros Torres’ gourmet popcorn startup story is one of empowerment, passion, commitment and the courage to share family traditions, a Latino twist for the most demanding palates.

gourmet popcorn Carmen Milagros Torres

Carmen Milagros Torres, La Dona Carmen, founder of The Popcornerie

She is the owner of Tampa Bay’s The Popcornerie, a family owned business that aims at bringing the highest quality of freshly made gourmet popcorn to its customers. Carmen has recently been selected a semi-finalist on Project American Dreams, an initiative launched by HSN and Dreamers Ventures to feature Latino-owned businesses.

Carmen’s inspiration and driving force

Carmen is a New Yorker of Spanish descent; both her parents are from the beautiful island of Puerto Rico. Carmen’s inspiration to start her own gourmet popcorn business came from her experiences as a young, eleven-year-old girl helping her abuela’( Spanish for grandmother) make popcorn balls for their friends using original, cherished recipes. “I finally put the pieces together and decided that I wanted to carry this family tradition. It just felt right. Ironically, my daughter is named ‘Palomita’ –‘Palomitas’ or ‘palomitas de maíz’ is the Spanish equivalent of popcorn–”, Carmen told LatinasinBusiness.us.

Being a single, working mother to three children, her children’s future was always her top priority. She was especially determined to ensure that her daughter, “who will face more challenges in life than others simply because she is a double minority”, has a secure future. When she reached a point in her life where her children were no longer dependent on her, she decided to concentrate on starting her own business.

Initial obstacles and how she overcame them

gourmet popcorn Carmen Milagros TorresWhen she first set out to start her own gourmet popcorn business, she could not afford to leave her day job. Amidst the grueling task of trying to balance both her day job and setting up her business, she many times found herself wanting to give up.

After her grandfather’s death, she nearly did. However, her children, the very reason she decided to start her business in the first place, told her to keep it going. Their advice was all the encouragement she needed to get back to work with renewed zeal and fervor.

Carmen Milagros believes in turning every seemingly negative situation into a positive one. Recounting an incident from the time when she was still in the experimental stages of making her gourmet popcorn caramel recipe, she talks about how that incident has always stayed with her.

“I have a habit of placing my reading glasses at the top of my head when I’m not using them. On that particular day, I left the popcorn in the oven to cook and reached for my glasses in order to read,” she recalls. Unable to read, as the words looked blurry to her, she remembers wondering how her glasses had gotten so dirty. When she tried to clean them, she then realized the lenses had fallen off from the frame.

Much to her astonishment, she found the lenses melted at the bottom of the oven landing. “I have kept those lenses until this day and fondly think of them as my lucky charm,” she said with a smile.

Growth and success of gourmet popcorn “The Popcornerie”

gourmet popcorn Carmen Milagros TorresHer unwavering dedication and out of the box thinking is what makes Carmen stand out from the rest. She embraces her roots and incorporates the rich Spanish heritage in all aspects of her business. A great believer in self-improvement, she constantly finds ways to enhance her product. “There’s always room for better”, she asserted.

When she was selected as a semi-finalist on Project American Dreams, she knew the road to success was opening in front of her. Project American Dreams, launched by HSN and Dreamers Ventures, is a business competition to discover, mentor and launch products created by Latino entrepreneurs. If selected among the five lucky winners, this opportunity will give her the right platform and encouragement to boost her business.

You might be interested:

Four Latina entrepreneurs featured on LatinasinBusiness.us semifinalists in HSN competition

Carmen’s advice to aspiring entrepreneurs

She stresses the importance of hard work, sound research and the courage to keep going even when the odds are against you. “Never give up”, Carmen stated. She also talks about how keeping her family close and going to them for advice has helped her grow both personally and professionally.

“My children are my driving force”, she said, “My eldest son Damien constantly tells me ‘focus on nuts and bolts mom’. My children are my biggest fans and my toughest critics and I love and respect them for it”, she signed off.

 

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gourmet popcorn Carmen Milagros Torres

 

Four Latina entrepreneurs featured on LatinasinBusiness.us semifinalists in HSN competition

Four* LatinasinBusiness.us community members have been selected as semifinalists for the national HSN competition in partnership with Project American Dreams (projectamericandreams.com). We are so proud for all their accomplishments!

(L to R) Frances Prado, Hipatia Lopez, Victoria Flores, Francesca Kennedy

(L to R) Frances Prado, Hipatia Lopez, Victoria Flores, Francesca Kennedy

Frances Prado (CA), founder and inventor of the bras organizer Hanging Secrets; Victoria Flores (NY), co-founder at LUX Beauty Club; Hipatia Lopez (NJ), creator of the Empanada Fork; and Francesca Kennedy, founder of Ix Style, a fashion brand based on Guatemalan designs will move to the next round of the business competition that aims at discovering, mentoring and fast-tracking product innovations created by Latino entrepreneurs on the shopping network HSN.

HSN competition

The selected entrepreneurs will participate in a hands-on program designed to introduce new products to the marketplace through a partnership between leading lifestyle retailer HSN, and award-winning entrepreneur and creator of Dreamers Ventures, Liliana “Lili” Gil Valletta.

“We are very proud of the accomplishments of our Latina entrepreneurs and excited about this well-deserved opportunity for their innovative products,” said Susana G Baumann, LatinasinBusiness.us Founder and Editor-in-Chief. “In fact, Empanada Fork was the very first Latina entrepreneur we featured on LatinasinBusiness.us platform when we launched a little over two years ago for Hispanic Heritage Month. Hanging Secrets was also selected as one of the featured products in July 2015,” she said.

Hipatia Lopez, winner of the 2016 LatinasinBusiness.us Best Business Pitch that recently took place in West New York, recalls that in her earlier stages of founding her business H.L. Unico LLC DBA Empanada Fork she was going to NYC looking for Latina empowering networks, wishing there was one in New Jersey.

Hanging Secrets intimate apparel organizer closet

Hanging Secrets intimate apparel organizer

“To my surprise, I was so happy to have met Susana Baumann at a Statewide Hispanic Chamber of Commerce of New Jersey event. I became part of the LatinasinBusiness.us community in its early stages,” she said. “Sometimes, as an entrepreneur, we feel alone and on our own. We are afraid to ask for help! LatinasinBusiness.us genuinely cares about its members and wants to see them achieve their goals. I was so happy to have won the LatinasinBusiness.us #pitchyourbusiness competition two years in a row and I look forward to working with them more in the near future,” Hipatia said.

Frances Prado, CEO and Inventor of Hanging Secrets, also remembers contacting LatinasinBusiness.us to promote her business. “In June of 2015, I reached out to Susana G. Baumann regarding the opportunity of being spotlighted in LatinasinBusiness.us. Susana supported my request and made it very easy to provide the content about my life as an inventor and my entrepreneur journey,” she said. “My article was published on July 2015. When I started reading the post, it made me cry. I had to stop and take a few breaths before I was able to continue reading it. Susana was able to convert my content into an amazing story that gushed empathy. When I shared the article to my peers and family, they all had the same reaction. Susana has a true gift in storytelling,” she stated.

The HSN competition next steps

HSN competition

Susana G Baumann (L) and Lili Gil Valetta at the 2016 LatinasinBusiness.us Best Business Awards and Pitch your Business competition

At the HSN competition, judges reviewed and selected up to 20 products; five entrepreneurs will then win the opportunity to introduce their products to HSN viewers reaching 94 million households in the Spring of 2017.

“While Latinos represent 17% of the population and are starting more new businesses than the general population, they receive less access to opportunities and get less than 1% of all venture capital and angel funding,” said Lili Gil Valletta, co-founder of Dreamers Ventures. “This is why I assembled an alliance of leading experts, investors and mentors to fill the gap in access and opportunity for Latino entrepreneurs.” This network of experts will provide personalized coaching and resources to the selected finalists in preparation for their national launch. Various HSN celebrity partners will also provide their personal business tips to the contestants throughout the competition.

U.S. Bank supports Project American Dreams as a partner to educate, empower and offer access to capital for Hispanic business owners. Other celebrities and organizations involved in the project include best-selling author and “TV’s Billion Dollar Man” Bob Circosta, a pioneer of the multi-billion dollar live television shopping industry; and Access Latina, a LatinasinBusiness.us media strategic partner, which offers capital resources, access to networks and mentoring for Latinas.

Here are their stories:

Empanada Fork makes a mark for Latina entrepreneur

Hanging Secrets Latina innovation for lingerie and intimate apparel

A Latina entrepreneur finds clean water in Guatemalan designs

Latina entrepreneur makes hair extensions’ glamour accessible to all

 

*Correction: in a previous version, the inclusion of Carmen Milagro from Borbon Skincare was a namesake. The selected finalist is Carmen Milagros Torres, creator of The Pop Cornerie.