The business of beauty:

When a business model needs a makeover

Yvonne Rodriguez

Businesswoman Yvonne Rodriguez got badly bruised in the boutique clothing business, so she’s turning to the business of beauty.

Rodriguez opened her store, Pink, in Los Angeles eight years ago and watched it flounder amid competition. So she decided to relaunch her business in Las Vegas — and why not? The year was 2003, and Vegas was superheated with growth and possibility.

She opened six Pink boutiques around the valley. Three years ago she closed five of them, hammered by a recession that has hovered over Las Vegas like a slow-moving hurricane.

“I cried for three months,” she said. “I had built those stores from the dirt up. I couldn’t save them. Nobody would help me.”

So what has she done now? In a commercial market that may be years from returning to full health, she has opened a hybrid store — part boutique, part beauty salon — just across from her remaining Pink boutique at Summerlin’s Boca Park. She calls it Mixt — Urban Beauty Bar & Boutique.

“My husband (a sound designer in Hollywood) and I were talking one night about what to do, and we thought it would be amazing to open a makeup store,” said the Bulgarian-born entrepreneur.

So she developed her own line of cosmetics and, realizing she still wouldn’t be able to compete with the likes of Ulta and Sephora, added clothing and accessories as well as rooms for hair styling, eyelash extensions, makeovers and so forth.

She’s confident the business will be a success.

“Women want to look good, and people are tired of the recession,” she said. “They are shopping. They’re careful how they spend, but they will spend. People who have lost homes, they’re ready to move on.”