PILSEN — The owner of a Pilsen salon is struggling to get her business back on track after trudging through the pandemic and being forced to move after a fire gutted her previous shop.
Ericka Reyna Bravo re-opened Vanessa’s Unisex Salon at 1842 S. Blue Island Ave. in January after a September fire on 18th Street destroyed the shop she’d had for nearly 20 years. Before the fire, Bravo hadn’t been able to pay for insurance due to slow business during the pandemic and being sick with coronavirus, she said.
“It destroyed everything. I took what I could,” Bravo said in Spanish. “I never thought it would happen to me.”
Bravo said she had a grand reopening for her salon early this year, but it didn’t attract as many customers as she thought it would. She said she poured all her savings into fixing up the building.
Despite the financial hardships Bravo has faced, she’s tried her best to keep prices reasonable for the community, she said. She said she used to be able to charge $6-$8 for a haircut, but now her rent is double what is used to be, so she charges $14-$12.
“To be able to help people, I never like to have high prices,” she said. “That’s my purpose.”
Pilsen resident Ryan Hurley started a GoFundMe to help Bravo after recently getting a haircut from her and hearing her story. He’s hoping to raise $7,000 to help Bravo keep the salon afloat.
“Ericka has worked tirelessly to create a salon that serves the community,” Hurley wrote. “In a neighborhood that has changed rapidly, the salon has been consistent in providing affordability for families who are trying to make ends meet.”
Vanessa’s Unisex Salon is open for appointments and walk-ins 11 a.m.-7 p.m. Monday-Friday and 10 a.m.-7 p.m. Saturdays at 1842 S. Blue Island Ave. It is closed Sundays.
Listen to “It’s All Good: A Block Club Chicago Podcast”: