Kim Romero Consulting

Business: Kim Romero Consulting
Owner: Kim Romero
Location: Long Beach, CA

For nearly 25 years, Kim Romero maintained a consistent base of public and private clients for his construction planning business, but with the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic, business slowed down.

“There were clients who had to back out and others who stopped returning calls entirely,” Kim recalled.


To make matters more difficult, even when Kim was able to earn contracts, there were persistent supply chain issues. Personal health problems, coupled with the quick economic downturn in business, left Kim uncertain on how to move forward.

Kim’s business was certified as a Minority Business Enterprise and Disadvantaged Business Enterprise for many years, so the California Asian Pacific Chamber of Commerce (CalAsian Chamber) notified him about the California Relief Grant.

“I quickly called to confirm the paperwork and process for the grant and had each of my questions answered, so I was ready to apply,” Kim said. “When I needed help submitting my application, I was quick to call the CalAsian Chamber because I can count on them to be timely and see me as a person.”

Kim was awarded a grant in October, which allowed him to cover payroll and business expenses. Kim said he doesn’t know whether he would still be in business had he not learned about the relief grant or the CalAsian Chamber. Since receiving the grant, he’s also felt his industry become more viable, leading to an increase in work for his business.

“I was wondering if I could take on more clients and have been grateful to receive three calls for new contracts,” Kim said.

The CalAsian Chamber Kim introduced Kim to the Small Business Transportation Resource Center, a chamber resource that focuses on various industries, including construction.

“After seeing the care and professionalism I was treated with during the grant process, I am confident recommending my colleagues for programs at the CalAsian Chamber,” Kim said.

Rosie Day Spa

Established as a skincare business in Sacramento since 1995, Rosie Day Spa has been providing specialized spa services for 25 years. The skincare spa specializes in facial treatments, therapeutic massage, body wellness, waxing, and eyelash extensions. Rosie Day Spa has had a long-standing reputation for creating a professional, calming and classy environment for spa services located in the Pocket neighborhood of Sacramento, California.

For the first time since its founding 25 years ago, Rosie Day Spa had to shut down in March 2020 as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic. Rosie Ho, the owner of Rosie Day Spa, was faced with continuous losses that resulted from the need to cover rent, utilities, and other operating expenses for an entire year without incoming revenues from clients. Despite being overwhelmed with her business losses and the fear of never re-opening her business again, Rosie gained confidence in applying for the California Small Business COVID-19 Relief Grant Program (CA Small Business Relief Grant) with the help of the CalAsian Chamber's Sacramento Minority Business Development Agency (MBDA) COVID-19 Specialty Center.

As a result of receiving technical assistance from the Center and one-on-one consultations with business advisors to support the challenges Rosie faced from the pandemic, Rosie successfully applied for and received a grant from the CA Small Business Relief Grant. With the support of the MBDA Cares Act Sacramento Center team, Rosie adapted and faced her challenges as a small business owner, and no longer faces the fear of closing her business of 25 years.

She stated, “It was very encouraging and hopeful that during this challenging time, I received a variety of technical assistance from area professionals and the Minority Business Development Agency (MBDA) COVID-19 Specialty Center team. The staff came together and volunteered their time and knowledge which was so helpful to the business.”

As of April 2021, Rosie was able to reopen Rosie Day Spa, with modifications following the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) guidelines. Although Rosie Day Spa adheres to the safety guidelines, recovery has been slow with several clients reluctant to return, but steady. However, a stronger Rosie continues to work with the Minority Business Development Agency (MBDA) COVID-19 Specialty Center in order to help her business recover from the challenging year prior. The Center has worked hand in hand with Rosie in order to provide her the assistance needed in order to revamp her marketing efforts and attract new clients into her spa. Through working with the Center, Rosie was able to obtain a promotional video for her business and was given additional guidance on how to successfully incorporate this marketing material into a digital marketing strategy.

Unsure of how to establish her business online, the Minority Business Development Agency (MBDA) COVID-19 Specialty Center provided Rosie Ho with a digital marketing toolkit and one on one consultations in order to guide her on her journey to recover her business. The Center also hosted a three-part digital marketing bootcamp, in which a group of five businesses, including Rosie Day Spa, were given the opportunity to learn about building an attractive website, creating consistent branding, and utilizing Facebook and Instagram for business growth. The Center continues to work with Rosie, providing her one-on-one consultations in order to aid with all of her digital marketing needs.

“As a minority woman-owned business, I am very grateful that the CalAsian Chamber team navigated, supported, and provided the help that I needed,” Rosie mentioned. “It has saved my business of 25 years. Thank you so much to Glenn Fujii for all of the well-organized webinars and follow-up support.”

Learn how we can help your business!

Sandy Nguyen and Hair Movements Salon and Spa

Business: Hair Movement Salon and Spa
Owner: Sandy Nguyen
Location: Rancho Cordova, CA

In the Spring of 2020, Sandy Nguyen was forced to close the doors of Hair Movements Salon and Spa, a 25-year-old business in Rancho Cordova that she owned for the last 10 years.

For a lot of business owners like Sandy, the COVID-19 pandemic made life hard, but as a first-generation immigrant, she was no stranger to adversity.

Sandy’s father came to America in 1975 to escape war in Vietnam leaving behind his wife and 10 children. Due to the rise of Communism, neither the family nor Sandy’s father were certain of each other’s survival during the war.

When Sandy’s father was finally able to reconnect with the family through their grandmother, he was able to bring Sandy, her mother, and all her siblings over to their new home in America nine years later.

Before leaving Vietnam, Sandy’s mother made sure each of her children had a marketable skill to start their lives in the United States. Sandy learned how to be a nail technician and when she came to Rancho Cordova, she was able to work at Hair Movements Salon and Spa.

Over the next 10 years while working at the salon, Sandy was able to learn English, build up a strong customer base and earn her associate degree in business from American River College before eventually becoming the sole owner of Hair Movements Salon and Spa.

Sandy built her business into a successful salon with a loyal clientele before the pandemic struck. She was forced to close her family’s main source of income and lay off multiple employees. For months on end, Sandy struggled to work through the difficulties of COVID, wading through the changing landscape of mandates and shutdowns, until she was finally able to tentatively re-open her doors almost a year later.


Despite reopening, Sandy struggled to gain back her customers. When Sandy arrived to open the salon one day, she was shocked to receive a three-day notice on her door demanding $7,000 in owed rent. Prior to COVID, Sandy paid her rent on time for the last 10 years.

With very few places to turn, Sandy reached out to the California Asian Pacific Chamber of Commerce for help in keeping her salon open.

The CalAsian Chamber’s Glenn Fujii worked with business development expert Andrew Kim and the Sacramento COVID-19 Relief Specialty Center to provide Sandy the support she needed.

The team worked with the salon’s property owner to set up payment plans and renegotiate Sandy’s lease, keeping her business up and running for the foreseeable future. The center continues to provide Sandy funding, loan, and grant opportunities so she can reduce debt, upgrade her salon, and invest in future marketing strategies.

Sandy is now able to work towards her goal of stepping back from the day-to-day salon operations so she can help her daughter with her newborn grandchild.

Learn how we can help your business!

CalAsian Chamber Helps Popular Sacramento Cafe Pivot During Pandemic

Business: Magpie Café
Owner: Janel Inouye
Location: Sacramento, CA

Magpie Café originally began as a small catering business in 2005 and has since grown into one of the most popular restaurants in Sacramento, California. Magpie Café’s seasonal menus offer locally sourced ingredients while maintaining an emphasis on a sustainable environment. By 2014, Magpie Café moved into 16 Powerhouse a brand-new LEED Certified building with spacious capacity to support the volume and customer demand that Magpie Café attracted. During this time Magpie Café continued to flourish. Milestones included collaborating with the Monterey Bay Aquarium Seafood Watch to provide sustainable seafood and even provided lunch to the Dalai Lama in his 2016 visit to Sacramento.

However, the pandemic was especially difficult for the thriving café. As a result, Janel Inouye, co-owner of Magpie has had to make difficult decisions, pivot her business, and adapt to the new normal. During the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic, the restaurant had to close for six weeks. Ms. Inouye and the California Asian Pacific Chamber of Commerce (CalAsian) created a plan to help Magpie Café keep its doors open. The chamber created a plan that conformed to a different business landscape. Some examples of business ideas include introducing increased outdoor seating and partnering with food delivery vendors to ensure customers received their orders of Magpie’s delicious, locally sourced food. Janel received support in applying for the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) and the Economic Injury Disaster Loans (EIDL). Additionally, Magpie attended several webinars provided by the CalAsian that helped Magpie Café pivot their business to the new normal. In our “Recovery through Digital Transformation in the time of COVID-19” webinar Magpie Café received one on one consulting regarding eCommerce and email marketing. Magpie Café also participated in our “PPP Forgiveness” webinar, which also provided a one-on-one consultation about the PPP Loan Forgiveness process.

Ms. Inouye states “Since this is a moving target I have received the most up-to-date information from reliable people who have our interest in mind. I appreciate the additional support and expertise provided and look forward to attending future events.”

Throughout 2021, CalAsian continued to help Magpie Café on its journey to recovery after an incredibly tough year of change. The chamber continued to help Janel acquire funding, providing guidance and assistance through the California Relief Grant application process. With the help from the center, Janel was able to receive a $25,000 California Relief Grant to help support her business. The chamber also provided further financial planning assistance by working with Avant LTD to provide Janel with help regarding her lease agreement, managing her cash flow. The chamber also provided assistance as supply chain delays became a financial burden on her business.

The chamber continues to work with business owners like Janel to help them overcome challenges and barriers, and get them to the next stage of their growth.

Learn how we can help your business!

Strong College Students Moving

For 5 years, Alexandria Dexter, “Ally” has owned and operated the ABC Operations LLC DBA Strong College Students. Ally has focused on employing hard-working students from universities and local colleges to provide them the opportunity of earning extra income all while juggling the high demands of academic life. We move families and businesses. Our shiny new moving trucks, friendly professionally trained student staff, focus on helping and impressing clients and changing the way America feels about moving.
Strong College Students were severely impacted by COVID-19, Dexter struggled to pay daily operational expenses, having to terminate their insurance due to not being able to pay each month. “Without insurance in the type industry we are in, we cannot legally conduct business.” COVID-19 really affected us and we were forced to pause our operations indefinitely.

“The technical assistance services provided by the MBDA CARES Act Team helped because there was a lot of issues in the beginning when trying to apply for the CA Relief Grant, however, the webinars hosted by the CalAsian Chamber provided me comfort and kept me informed that the issues would be resolved which gave me peace of mind.”

After rounds of patiently waiting, Dexter and Strong College Students were selected and received the CA Relief Grant.
Through the support, guidance, and services of the staff with the MBDA CARES Act at the CalAsian Chamber of Commerce, Dexter received the needed guidance and advice to apply timely for the CA Relief Grant and ultimately receive the funds.
After receiving the CA Relief Grant, it helped sustain the business.

Dexter stated “The CA Relief Grant has helped cover our recurring operating expenses as well as paying for mechanical issues we had with our trucks, we were able to reinstate our insurance and resume business as usual.”

After receiving the California Relief Grant, Dexter was able to focus for attention on the promotion and recovery of her business. Working with the Sacramento Minority Business Development Agency (MBDA) COVID-19 Specialty Center, Ally Dexter was able to receive a promotional video for her business, free of charge. Ally Dexter was also provided a digital marketing toolkit, which outlines a digital marketing strategy to help her business bring in new clients. In addition to the digital marketing toolkit, Ally Dexter was also able to participate in a digital marketing bootcamp hosted by the center. This bootcamp contained three parts, in which Ally was able to gain knowledge on building her website, creating a consistent brand identity, and utilizing social media to grow her audience. Through these efforts, Strong College Students continues to grow on their path to recovery, establishing a strong online presence and gaining the exposure needed in order to keep their business running after a year of hardship.