Sunday, January 15, 2012

Jovina and Ulises - Entrepreneurs in Loreto Bay

I thought I would write this week about some of the new businesses that have started business this Fall on the Paseo, or main street that runs through Loreto Bay.  Two of the more popular enterprises that have opened have a unique connection in common – they are operated by an entrepreneurial husband/wife couple.  Jovina operates Tranquil Massage and Spa, and her husband Ulises runs the Fresh Market in the next storefront.

They met when they were both in the US Military and started their family when they left the service for civilian life.  After the birth of their second daughter they made the decision to move to Loreto, where Ulises’ mother lived in retirement.  When the girls were old enough to leave in the care of her mother-in-law, Jovina made the big decision to pursue her long time dream and move back to the US to take a year’s training and become a registered massage therapist. 

When she returned to Loreto she first opened her own small studio, but due to the H1N1 scare the timing was bad for starting a new business.  Soon she found work at an established Spa in Loreto, gaining practical experience as a masseuse and learning to be a nail technician as well.  After a brief experiment with business on the mainland, Jovina returned to Loreto and, with some help from past clients, started to develop a clientele in Loreto Bay.     

About a year later, when the opportunity arose to open a storefront location in Loreto Bay, Jovina was one of the first lessees to sign up.  But the logistics of operating a massage studio required her to expand operations and provide other services including hair dressing and manicure and pedicure services as well, to better utilize the space and to have staff in the studio so she can do her massages without interruptions.

During the summer she and her husband planned the renovations for her, dividing the approximately 550 sq. ft. space into two sections, the larger spa side with a reception desk, a small display area for shampoos and other retail supplies, the hair dressing station, manicure table and a pedicure chair.  Behind the partition is the massage studio - true to the name, a Tranquil space tastefully decorated and a relaxing oasis.

There is a fulltime nail tech doing mani/pedicures and a hairdresser from town who currently comes out twice a week for appointments, while Ulises’ mother Eva keeps the reservation desk so that Jovina is available for an almost steady schedule of massages.  Although most of her clientele is female, I can personally vouch that she does a great massage and encourage more men to take advantage of her services – otherwise you’re missing out on a great experience!  

Ulises had some experience working in construction in Loreto Bay so both he and Jovina had got to know Homeowners and understand the community, so Ulises was aware that there was demand for a good source of fresh fruits and vegetables, since the selection in town was unreliable at best.  Although he had previously operated a number of other businesses in the town of Loreto including a clothing store, and a restaurant, and he had enjoyed cooking since he was young, the produce business was new to him and so he set about learning more about it by doing some research on line.

Then, this Fall, he rented the storefront adjacent to Jovina’s Spa, did some basic renovations to set up an area to wash and prep his produce and installed some refrigeration units, display tables and shelves.  In the beginning he drove an hour and a half to the nearest big supermarket in the next town a couple of times a week , where he purchased his stock, but soon he arranged to purchase from wholesalers who would deliver much of the regular produce to his store.  As he became more established, other producers sought him out and he began to receive regular deliveries of oranges, onions and other locally grown crops.  Part of his regular routine is to check with several local fishermen in town every morning and pick up filets of the “catch of the day” – and it doesn’t get much fresher than that!  He also has a local source for fresh free-range chicken, which he sells plain and marinated.

Having an expanding source of fresh fruits and vegetables as well as seafood and poultry is a great convenience to Loreto Bay Homeowners, as well as those who live in Nopolo and the surrounding area.  The store would be popular for the convenience factor alone, by reducing the necessity of having to go into town as often for fresh supplies, but the fact is that the quality and freshness of the produce is usually superior to what is often available in town.   

Like good businesses everywhere, Ulises listens to his customers and he is always happy to take requests for things he does not regularly carry and look for them when he makes his regular trips to wholesalers as far away as La Paz.  Very often he has hard to find delicacies like eggplant and mushrooms (sometimes even Portobello!) when they are impossible to find in even the biggest grocery stores in town.  He also is able to refrigerate the produce that is perishable so it is in the best possible condition when he sells it. 

But not everything has to come from afar.  Recently, he was asked for firewood by a Homeowner who has a fireplace in their home.  Knowing the town as well as he does and where to find whatever is available is one of Ulises big advantages.  He knew where to find the firewood and brought some into his store for that customer and another new product was added! 

In the future, he is planning on doing some cooking classes, focusing on traditional Mexican cuisine and possibly even some of his Thai specialties. Over the past Holiday Season he has done some catering for Homeowners parties and this is another business he wants to expand, now that the market is operating smoothly. 

Jovina and Ulises combine their Mexican heritage with an understanding of North American culture, and with their true entrepreneurial spirits, they are working together to provide goods and services that contribute in important ways to the quality of life for our community here in Loreto Bay.  Seeing new businesses created and thriving, and watching how they add to the quality of life here, that is an important new dimension to “Living Loreto”.