Hermila Solano was ready to take the next step in her cosmetology career.

After getting her cosmetology license and working for others, Solano decided to branch out and open her own cosmetology academy. She knew it wouldn’t be easy, but Solano couldn’t have anticipated just how difficult it would be

Solano struggled with financing and couldn’t find lending. She couldn’t find a suitable location for her dream business. And, even Solano’s children encouraged her to do something else.

Nevertheless, she kept going, confident not only in her ability to teach, but also believing that what’s meant to be will find a way.

“I believe that if you keep working hard, things will come to you,” Solano said through an interpreter. “So, one way or another, we started cutting expenses here, saving a little bit here, and things started opening up. We found the establishment where we are now, we received a little bit of lending from, not only family members, but also small-loan places.

“My whole mentality has been, I can’t doubt myself. And, I can’t keep saying, ‘I’m not going to make this’ or ‘Where am I going to get the money from?’ You just have to have faith in yourself, and that’s what I did.”

Today, Solano is the proud owner of Jemist Glamour Academy, a school of cosmetology that features a complete studies program. And, while Solano’s first priority is to educate her students in cosmetology, she also wants to serve as an example for those chasing their dreams.

“Every time I speak to one of my students, I tell them, you guys are already on the first step, which is being here,” Solano said. “You’re going to encounter many obstacles along the way, but never give up on yourself. … Because I didn’t, and that’s what got me to where I am.”                                                                                  

Local nonprofits also Solano along the way, both before she started her business and after it got off the ground. That’s why she plans on working with two in particular, Instituto del Progreso Latino and Mujeres Latinas En Accion, to offer scholarships to her beauty school and help future students start their own businesses in the communities where they live.

As for her own future, Solano wants to continue growing her business and expand its offerings. That includes Solano getting certifications for different types of nails and also getting her barber’s license. And, she has true partner: Brighton Park Community Bank, where she does her business banking.

“When I first enrolled with this bank, I felt that I could come to the branch and the bankers are going to be able to help me,” Solano said. “Everybody’s so friendly and it feels like (Wintrust does) care. It feels like a family touch, where other institutions you may not feel that.”

If you’re a business owner looking for a bank that knows this area and understands what it takes to grow a business here, we’d love to hear from you. Click here to learn more about our business solutions, or find a Wintrust Community Bank near you.