Burien Small Business Stories of Resilience: Celeste Boutique
Erin Williamson

December 14, 2020

“There are a lot of projects going on in Burien and that feels exciting.”

Vilma Aguilar spent her childhood in San Salvador, El Salvador, where she helped her parents with their import business. She enjoyed the hustle and bustle of her family’s vocation. “I grew up in those markets,” she reflected.

Vilma moved to the US and worked for a decade as a nanny. When the children she worked with went to college, Vilma decided she wanted a career change that brought her closer to her family’s small business roots. Vilma connected with Ventures and learned how to start a business in the US. Over the course of 12 years, she built Celeste Boutique, which provides dresses and event support for weddings, quinceaneras and other special occasions.

Vilma has enjoyed watching the city grow along with her business. “I like that Burien is a small city and yet it’s growing in a very good way.  I like building relationships with my customers and then customers become your friends,” she said.

 

“This support has made me feel like I’m not alone.”

Unfortunately, the coronavirus pandemic has been especially hard on the Celeste Boutique. “My business is based on special events and parties. Because those are basically cancelled, our customers have cancelled their orders,” said Vilma.

While COVID has paused much of Vilma’s business, it has not stopped bills for business related expenses—like rent and insurance. Luckily, the City of Burien offered small grants to local business. Ventures helped Vilma apply for a grant, and now she uses the grant money to pay the electricity bills for her store.

“I am very grateful for the City of Burien and Ventures. They made an effort to support small businesses and any amount helps.  This support has made me feel like I’m not alone,” said Vilma. Even with this support, however, small businesses still need greater support from the federal government to survive an extended pandemic.

Vilma is staying positive and inventing ways to keep her business alive. She is offering discounts for customers that postpone events instead of cancelling them. Vilma is also offering an array of bridal dresses and wedding planning promotions because, in her words, “it gives people hope.”