San Francisco native Priscilla Cedillos, the daughter of immigrants from El Salvador, was a pharmacy technician on the fast track to success. Cedillos had quickly worked her way up to a supervisory position and her career was burgeoning. Yet something felt off.
Cedillos needed to be true to her passion, which was design and fashion. She longed to do something with what she learned at art school in Los Angeles, where she studied interior design.
That’s when Cedillos signed up for MEDA’s free Business Development workshop, a seven-session immersion into all things budding entrepreneurs need to know about starting or bettering a small business. That includes everything from negotiating a commercial lease to handling personal finances.
Upon graduation from the workshop, Cedillos was offered a year of one-on-one business coaching, also at no cost.
“MEDA helped me define my market, which I determined to be a 25- to 35-year-old career-driven businesswoman. She is a plus-sized woman who is not afraid to show off her curves and wear bold colors in sizes 1X to 3X. She owns who she is,” states Cedillos of her target client.
Cedillos named her business Ivory Pear and initially created an online retail store, which she developed herself. Explains Cedillos of her business’ name: “Ivory is a delicate color that many refuse to associate with curvy women. A pear is a beautiful shape that many plus-sized women represent. Our fusing the two together allows our customers to freely express their style … no matter what the tag says.”
Seeing success on the horizon, MEDA has moved Ivory Pear into a retail space in its neighborhood center, Plaza Adelante. The nonprofit gave Cedillos a rent break for the initial six months, as a way to help the business get off the ground. El Mercadito is a microbusiness incubator for the Mission, currently home to seven small businesses at 2301 Mission Street @ 19th. There is a restaurant. A printer. Stores selling novelty items.
Cedillos set up shop two weeks ago, with her space showcasing items handpicked by the owner. There is nothing in the store that the young fashonista has not worn herself, translating to her basically being a personal shopper for her customers.
Ivory Pear’s space also features a wall with positive affirmations for women to embrace their plus-sized body. Cedillos wants her customers to know that they are just as pretty as that model on the catwalk.
Bestsellers are dresses, with sales of cocktail gowns majorly picking up around the holidays.
When asked for her five-year plan, Cedillos talks of her dream to have a larger store in the Mission or the Excelsior, the latter the neighborhood in which she has always resided. Cedillos’ face lights up when she talks of someday having her own private label.
“I thank MEDA for helping me get my business off the ground. I can certainly say that I am happy. That’s what following your dream creates in your life – happiness,” concludes Cedillos.