Winter 2018 Newsletter – Guadalupe



Guadalupe Castro moved to New York from Mexico 20 years ago. As a single mother, she came with the goal of landing a lucrative job in her industry, and making enough money to return to Mexico and support her daughter. However, as an immigrant woman, she found working in New York more difficult than she imagined.

“I was a fashion designer in Mexico and thought I could get work designing here. I soon realized how difficult that would be because I did not speak much English, and I did not have the necessary contacts in the industry. My first job was in a factory in Brooklyn sewing clothes instead of designing them.”

Guadalupe next took a job at a nail salon. She found that she had a talent for painting and creating intricate designs on nails. She continued to learn more about the nail salon industry while spending her free time perfecting her English.

After 10 years of working for other salons, it was time to start her own. However, Guadalupe needed help with the basic development and creation of her business: financial assistance, business counseling and technology assistance. Luckily, Union Settlement’s Business Development Center (BDC) was there to help. She said, “By attending classes offered at the BDC, I learned the basics of creating and maintaining a successful business.”

In 2010, Ms. Castro opened her own salon, Fierce Spa in East Harlem. Recently, she expanded her business, doubled its size and moved it to its current location on First Avenue between 115th and 116th Streets.

Guadalupe believes in giving back to her community. She is a founding member of the El Barrio Mexican Chamber of Commerce, has participated in the East Harlem Mexican Independence Day celebration and recently hosted a domestic violence workshop in conjunction with the BDC and the Manhattan District Attorney’s Office, which provided nail and salon workers with resourceful information they can pass on to any clients they believe might be victims of domestic violence.

Guadalupe continues visiting Union Settlement’s BDC for counseling and technical assistance. “The Business Development Center is my home. They’re a part of the neighborhood. I always go back there and they always guide me. If I have an idea and don’t know how to make it a reality, I go there and they help me.”