As a student of color living in a predominantly white town, it is a lot more difficult for me to navigate where I can find the nearest threading place or halal meat store than it is in my hometown.
My fellow people of color (POC) may relate to this experience and wish that there were places where they could embrace their culture and identity as they would back home.
While POC-owned businesses are limited in San Luis Obispo, here are a couple in the area to check out if you are looking to embrace your cultural identity or to simply support:
The small eyebrow threading business on 3212 Broad St. has been owned by Sushmita Shinde for over five years. Shinde is the sole employee and does all the threading herself.
During the pandemic, Shinde kept her business open for her customers by going through lengths such as wearing full body protection and setting up a station outside. Her business offers threading facial hair removal as well as henna tattoos.
Celia’s Beauty Salon
Celia’s Beauty Salon is a Latino-owned business on 582 Higuera St. and offers haircuts, hairstyles and other beauty treatments.
Civil Engineering sophomore Nina Tamayo said she has been impressed with the haircuts she gets at her salon and has been a frequent customer.
“Talking to the owners in Spanish was so refreshing, especially being a POC at a PWI [primarily white institution],” Tamayo said. “It reminded me of my hairdresser back home.”
Ebony is not only the sole Ethiopian restaurant in San Luis Obispo, it is also the only one across the entire central coast. The restaurant sits on 4750 Allene Way at the Kitchen Terminal and specializes in vegan cuisine from Ethiopia.
The restaurant was created by four Ethiopian women, two of which are silent partners. The sister duo Helen Abraha and Martha Taezaz are the chefs behind the kitchen and each of their dishes is complete with traditional Ethiopian herbs, spices and seasonal ingredients.
Sky Nails & Spa
Right next to Ralphs grocery store sits Sky Nails & Spa. Cindy Tran has owned the nail salon for almost 20 years. Repeat customers come not only for their manicure and pedicure treatments, but their waxing services as well.
Forest and fire sciences sophomore Aneesa Qazi said she enjoys coming back to the salon for the conversation she has with the employees.
“They always ask how I am doing and seem to remember the smallest details about each customer,” Qazi said. “I brought a couple of my friends to get our nails done before going to a birthday party and the employees asked [us] to bring pictures of us all dressed up the next time we all came in.”
A Satellite of Love
Vintage boutique Satellite of Love is owned by Cal Poly alum Malik Miko Thorne, who is half-Indian and half-Black.
The store rests in the outskirts of downtown on Walker St. and sells clothing, books, houseware, albums and much more. Besides selling vintage goods, Thorne’s store also hosts movie and music nights to support local artists.
For those who love to thrift and enjoy celebrating local art, check out A Satellite of Love.