Shivaughnette Mendoza Of Bella Body Spa and Beauty Lounge: “Balance is everything”

Balance is everything: Moderation is the key to balance. Too much or too little of anything can be detrimental. Even water, which is something we need to survive, can be harmful if we consume too much of it. As long as you exercise moderation, we can enjoy the things you love. Born in Trinidad and Tobago, […]

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Balance is everything: Moderation is the key to balance. Too much or too little of anything can be detrimental. Even water, which is something we need to survive, can be harmful if we consume too much of it. As long as you exercise moderation, we can enjoy the things you love.

Born in Trinidad and Tobago, Shivaughnette Mendoza immigrated to the United States at the age of 21 with only 20 dollars to her name and a dream in her heart. She started working as a nanny, transitioned into the insurance industry, and then started working for a tax agency. With the help of her partner, she created a trucking company and used the additional revenue to purchase rental properties. Her entrepreneurial spirit and experience with personal transformation inspired her to pursue a career in beauty. She attended the Berkowitz School in Queens, New York, and achieved her esthetician license in an unprecedented three months. She began performing beauty services out of her home until the demand outgrew the space. Using her prior real estate wisdom, she purchased a storefront and expanded the business. Mendoza decided to partner with other beauty vendors to offer additional services and created the comprehensive spa called Bella Body Spa and Beauty Lounge. After the success of the New York City location, Mendoza plans to expand her business throughout the United States and internationally.

Thank you so much for joining us in this interview series! Our readers would love to “get to know you” better. Can you share your “backstory” with us?

My name is Shivaughnette Mendoza and I am originally from Trinidad and Tobago. I immigrated to the United States at the age of 21 with only 20 dollars to my name. I started working as a nanny but felt conflicted watching someone else’s children while my own were in the care of my family members. I transitioned into the insurance industry working as a file clerk. I eventually earned a promotion to work at the front desk and started attending classes for properties and casualties. Unfortunately, due to my citizenship status at the time, I was unable to take the state board test to become certified as an insurance agent. One of my clients was a lovely man from Trinidad who recruited me to work for his tax agency. I started to prepare taxes for people and when I became pregnant, the forced bedrest caused me to work from home. Following the birth of my child, I entered the real estate industry. I used the income generated from this venture to transition my career once again. My personal experience with body transformation gave me an interest in esthetics so I decided to enroll at the Berkowitz School in Queens, New York. Although it was unprecedented at the time and not recommended by advisors, I attended both the morning and evening sessions to complete the course in three months (opposed to the typical six month period). I became a licensed esthetician and started performing services out of my home. When the demand outgrew the space, I used my past real estate experience to purchase a storefront. As the business grew, I started to collaborate with other vendors to offer additional services. This is how Bella Body Spa and Beauty Lounge was created. We are now a comprehensive spa offering services ranging from hair, nails, facials, massages, lashes and medical spa services. We specialize in post-surgery care but provide service options for everyone with over 100 services. My goal is to expand the spa to locations throughout the world. Within the next year, Bella Body Spa and Beauty Lounge locations will exist in Atlanta, Fort Lauderdale, Houston, Barbados, and Trinidad. My story represents the American Dream of an immigrant coming to this country with little to her name and persevering to achieve her dreams. I am my biggest fan as well as my biggest motivator. I am self-motivated with the goal of never finishing where I started.

Can you share the most interesting story that has happened to you since you started your career? What were the main lessons or takeaways from that story?

I came to the United States from Trinidad with only 20 dollars to my name at the age of 21. I worked in a variety of industries until my passion for esthetics revealed itself and I pursued it professionally. I have my esthetician license but I do not have a business degree. The main lesson I would takeaway from the story is that education is important but hard work and determination are just as necessary. I do not have a business degree but my self-starter attitude and ability to learn allowed me to build and maintain a thriving Black-owned business.

Can you share a story about the biggest mistake you made when you were first starting? Can you tell us what lesson you learned from that?

When I initially started Bella Body Spa and Beauty Lounge, I used money from a savings account as the way to fund it. I wish I would have taken out a business loan and paid for the loan with my savings. Although it all worked out, I often think about how I would have done things differently and that is something I would change. If nothing else, I learned an incredible lesson about business and money management.

None of us are able to achieve success without some help along the way. Is there a particular person who you are grateful towards who helped get you to where you are? Can you share a story about that?

It truly takes a village to build a business. There have been a number of people who have helped me along the way but one that is extremely important to me is Harmony Mendoza. She re-entered my life when our business operation transitioned from my basement to a storefront location. She has since been by my side in all of my business ventures.

Ok, perfect. Now let’s jump to our main focus. When it comes to health and wellness, how is the work you are doing helping to make a bigger impact in the world?

I know it sounds cliche but beauty is truly in the eyes of the beholder. We are only as beautiful as we perceive ourselves to be. The irony of it all is that our beauty comes from within, but sometimes that confidence comes from loving the way we look on the outside. That is why I created Bella Body Spa and Beauty Lounge. We are not here to change our clients, but enhance them. We are not plastic surgeons but we can create transformations that are significant and impact our clients deeply. When someone is pampered with a massage or is able to release stress during a spa visit, it puts their mind, body, and spirit at ease. Aesthetics is a transformation not only externally, but it affects our internal confidence as well. My bigger impact on the world is enhancing my clients so that they feel confident, exercise self-love, and impact the world in positive ways because they feel good about themselves. At Bella Body Spa and Beauty Lounge, beauty is our lifestyle.

Can you share your top five “lifestyle tweaks” that you believe will help support people’s journey towards better wellbeing? Please give an example or story for each.

  • Drink plenty of water: Hydration is essential for a healthy mind, healthy skin, and overall well-being.
  • Listen to your body: Nobody knows their body better than you do. Listen to it. When you are tired, make time for rest. Be sure to tune into the frequency of your anatomy and recognize what your body needs.
  • Exercise self-care: We are useless to others if we are not at our best. Be sure to take time out for yourself and recognize when you need to prioritize your own needs.
  • Balance is everything: Moderation is the key to balance. Too much or too little of anything can be detrimental. Even water, which is something we need to survive, can be harmful if we consume too much of it. As long as you exercise moderation, we can enjoy the things you love.
  • Stress kills: Stress is a silent killer. When we are not managing stress correctly, our bodies start to be affected by it. It is important to take part in activities that manage stress in a healthy way. Whether it is exercise, meditation, or prioritizing relaxation, it is important to find a positive activity to channel that stress and manage it correctly. A trip to the spa is always a great way to manage stress.

If you could start a movement that would bring the most amount of wellness to the most amount of people, what would that be?

If I could start a movement, it would be a self-love movement. I think when we love ourselves, it makes it easier to love others. Even though my brand is curated around external beauty, I always stress to my clients how important it is to start from within. Beauty is our lifestyle, whether that beauty is on the outside or the inside.

What are your “5 Things I Wish Someone Told Me Before I Started” and why?

  • Business 101: Running a business is challenging but I wish I knew how challenging it would be as a woman. Male entrepreneurs are given a different level of respect and resources. I also didn’t realize that running a business is a 24/7 endeavor. I thought the beginning stages of building the business would be the time consuming part of the process but I have learned that the time investment of a business owner never changes and remains constant.
  • Balance is Key: Being a business owner is very time consuming. The amount of time and energy put into a business can have a negative affect on relationships, especially with family. It is important to find a work/life balance so that you can maintain a social life and enjoy time with loved ones.
  • Business = People: In order to run a business, you have to understand people. Building a business is about building relationships and you cannot do this without understanding human psychology. In the world of aesthetics, everyone has a personal story as to why they are seeking an external transformation. Some are simply getting prepared for an important event while others are on a physical transformation journey. It is important to have empathy and connect with those clients so that myself and my staff know exactly how to fulfill their needs and operate in a manner that makes the client comfortable. In addition to understanding the clients, a business owner needs to understand their staff. Ensuring safety and security while navigating a variety of personality types can be a challenge, but I am grateful for their loyalty and hard work.
  • Adapt and Evolve: I wish someone would have told me how dynamic it is to run a business. What works one day may not work in a year’s time. Things are always changing, especially in these unprecedented times. It is important to stay flexible and adapt so that you can evolve. If you do not make the necessary changes to keep up with the industry, then you will not survive. It is about evolving your business so that it remains relevant in the market.
  • Find the Passion: Owning a business is hard work. Although it can be rewarding, it is never easy. If I wasn’t passionate about my business, it would make it very difficult to invest the amount of time and energy that I do. Make sure you are growing a business that you are either passionate about or find passion in. You have to find the moments that remind you of the reason why you started the business in the first place. There are long days at the spa and sometimes I am exhausted but when I see the change in energy of a client after they receive a treatment, it makes it all worth it. When I am part of that positive impact on a client, it takes me back to the beginning when I decided to make aesthetics my life. I am reminded of the power of transformation and it keeps me motivated to keep putting in the work. You have to find that passion that drives the business and drives you as the business owner.

Sustainability, veganism, mental health and environmental changes are big topics at the moment. Which one of these causes is dearest to you, and why?

In the spa business, mental health is probably the topic we address most. Our clients come to the spa when they need to relieve stress or when they want to improve their exterior appearance. Once they receive the transformation they are looking for, their self-esteem and confidence increases which helps with better mental health. It is amazing how something as simple as getting a haircut or a manicure helps change someone’s energy and spirit. When people are pampered, it makes them feel taken care of and that feeling gives them a positive feeling.

What is the best way our readers can follow you on social media?

Bella Body Spa and Beauty Lounge can be found on instagram @BellaBodySpaandBeautyLounge.

Thank you for these fantastic insights!

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