She Moved from Trinidad with $20 in Her Pocket and Now She Owns This New York Beauty Spa

Curated by Claudia Shannon / Research Scientist / ishonest

Bella Body Spa and Beauty Lounge, located just outside of Manhattan in the heart of Queens, is a labor of love ten years in the making. The spa offers a variety of services in one location; ranging from nails, hair, and makeup to body sculpting, dermaplaning, and butt plumping.

Founder Shivaughnette Mendoza’s story of opening the spa is one out of a movie. No stranger to hard work, she came to the United States from Trinidad at the age of 21 with only $20 in her pocket. 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.

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Mendoza finally set her sights on dreams of becoming a spa owner, and became a licensed esthetician and started performing services out of her home. When the demand outgrew the space, she used my past real estate experience to purchase a storefront. As the business grew, she started to collaborate with other vendors to offer additional services.

From there, Bella Body Spa and Beauty Lounge was created.

Mendoza and her team have crafted an environment intended to feel like home, where the women they serve can experience a barbershop vibe that encourages relaxation.

Though, the momentum that she’d created upon opening slowly halted when the world shut down due to the pandemic. During lockdown, Mendoza went into hustle mode, which is her version of survival mode. And while this would have depleted others’ dreams, it was just the motivation Mendoza needed to keep going, which resulted in a reopening that was stronger than before.

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“Being as resilient as I was when the order was issued that we can work from home I took the opportunity to offer my services on a smaller scale but to a larger clientele because people were still looking for services and most businesses were closed,” says Mendoza.

Reopening a business in such turbulent times has taught Mendoza hard lessons that assert her resilience across all facets of her life. Mendoza doesn’t pay much attention to the obstacles that may stand in her way.

“Luckily for me they found a new home and stayed with me when I reopened so in the end I came out stronger,” she says.

Mendoza hopes that Bella Body Spa and Beauty Lounge can be a catalyst for change in the lives of all the women who walk through the doors. It’s the type of establishment that she believes that society needs now more than ever. “As a woman myself and seeing where I came from and the journey I took, to become who I am today. I believe in celebrating other women who have fought the battle and taken the steps to build their dreams and even assisting others in their fight because we all deserve to win.”

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According to Mendoza, this all-in-one experience is only part of what makes Bella Spa stand out from the competition. The team’s dedication to caring for the health of the clients’ over wellbeing — not just their appearance and design — is what takes precedence for her. Though, her motto is more “collaboration over competition.”

“Firstly I don’t view them as competition, I view them as partners working towards the same goal of empowering women all over the world,” she says.

With momentum like this, it’s worth a reminder that Bella Spa is only two years old — which only emphasizes just how much that the COVID-19 pandemic brought all of that momentum to a screeching halt.

“We don’t need to stand out, we stand together and that is what Bella Body Spa and Beauty Lounge is all about. What makes us different however is that we are leading the way in technology, creativity and we treat everyone with prestige.”

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