New Montbello small business struggles after loans and grants denied

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DENVER — The owner of Velv’IT Boutique Beauty in Montbello saw a need for a store that specializes in products for natural, curly and textured hair, but opening a business during the COVID-19 pandemic has been challenging.

“It was a huge void because when you go into other beauty supply stores there’s a small segment of that store that would cater towards those like myself,” said ALLurrr’em VelvIT who owns the store with her sister.

VelvIT opened up shop in Denver’s Montbello neighborhood, using her savings to stock the shelves in hopes that customers would come. The store opened in September and, months later, she has faced several setbacks after trying to apply for assistance.

“I have applied for eight grants, seven loans and two lines of credit and been denied for all of those,” said VelvIT. “We don’t have, say, the credit score that is needed. We don’t have the years in business that they’re requesting. We don’t have the revenue from the prior year that they’re requiring.”

Although it might seem like there’s plenty of relief programs, State Rep. Leslie Herod, D-Denver, said she knows some businesses are being left out.

“There are funding opportunities available for businesses, especially minority-owned businesses, that are newer. However, if you don’t have any receipts before the pandemic, that makes it even harder for us to assess whether or not — or how much funding — you qualify for,” said Rep. Herod.

Senate Bill 1 was passed in December to provide relief for minority-owned businesses and was revised last week after a lawsuit was filed over the measure. The lawsuit had held up any of the funds going out over the past month.

“We know that there is a disproportionate impact on minority-owned businesses in a struggling economy, so we have to do everything we can to mitigate that as well,” said Herod.

Rep. Herod said the state needs to do everything it can to help the small businesses bounce back in the post pandemic economy.