Burien Small Business Stories of Resilience: Emerald City Mattress
Erin Williamson

December 21, 2020

“We are the owners of our own time. Having your own business gives you the opportunity to do that!”

Eight years ago, Celina Aguiniga and her husband decided to stop making mattresses for other companies and start their own small business in Burien. “All of our lives, we have worked for someone else and we didn’t want to do that our entire lives.  Our vision is to have a better income and a better life,” said Celina.

Celina and her husband connected with Ventures through a program from the city of Burien. They took a 12-week business course from Ventures, and kept in contact to get advice on accounting and working with lawyers to establish Emerald City Mattress. “A lot of things that people need to know when either opening or running their business, we didn’t know before Ventures,” said Celina.

Celina enjoys the entrepreneurial spirit of Burien. “The city of Burien has a lot of opportunity to grow because of all of the resources,” said Celina who shares resources and tips each month with small business owners in the city through the Empresarios Unidos group. She is proud of how much Emerald City Mattress has grown over the years. “When we began, we only had three mattresses on the floor.  Now, we have 3800 square feet and it’s full of mattresses!” said Celina.

“The grant helped us survive these hard times.”

The coronavirus pandemic forced Celina and her husband to adapt quickly. At the start of the pandemic, they closed their store for three months to keep their customers safe as scientists learned more about the disease. In June, they slowly began to re-open at 20 percent capacity, but it was challenging to deal with the lost revenue.

To stay afloat, Celina applied for a small business grant from the City of Burien with the help of Ventures. Emerald City Mattress received a $5,000 grant, which they used to cover some of their rent and utilities from the three months their store was closed due to COVID. “The grant helped us survive these hard times,” said Celina.

These days, Emerald City Mattress offers masks to customers and stays open on Sundays to keep their business alive. They are also introducing a new line of mattresses made from memory foam that are infused with essential oils to help people relax during a particularly stressful year.

Despite the challenges of 2020, Celina is still grateful to be a small business owner. “We are the owners of our own time,” said Celina, “having your own business gives you the opportunity to do that!”