Growing up with a mother who owned her own esthetics spas, Cyndi Ramirez-Fulton subconsciously knew she was always meant to follow in her footsteps. Little did she know she would modernize the spa industry with her brand, Chillhouse.

The founder and CEO got a firsthand look at the world of entrepreneurship when her career began in consulting startups. In 2017, she and her husband and business partners opened a brick—and—mortar self-care hub in New York’s bustling Lower East Side. 

“I was at this point in my career where I was craving change, and it all dawned on me: why were there no aspirational, attainably-priced spas in NYC that felt marketed to women like me?” said Ramirez-Fulton.

Chillhouse’s mission is to serve stressed-out civilians by providing affordable and effective spa services (think facials, manicures, and massages, all while enjoying a cucumber matcha spritz) in their chic locale, now located in Soho

The self-care jefa spoke to mitú about Chillhouse’s origin story, getting past roadblocks, and advice for Latinas aspiring to start their own business. 

From chaos to chill

Chillhouse’s first iteration was a cafe-meets-nail salon-meets-massage boutique. The ambitious concept was slowly nurtured into a success, but not without its pitfalls. Multiple pipe breaks and floods, a run-in with the health department, who disliked the proximity between the nail salon and café even though it wasn’t discouraged on paper, were just some of the hurdles they had to overcome.

In the bigger picture, it was also difficult for Ramirez-Fulton and her team to keep up with the growing demands of her business.

“On the outside, Chillhouse looks like a big, shiny brand,” she said. “But on the inside, we were barely making payroll, and my husband and I couldn’t afford to pay ourselves for years.”

You don’t have to be at their flagship location in New York to enjoy their clean beauty offerings and wellness essentials either. Their online shop is stocked with goodies like gua sha stones, candles, body routine must-haves, and more. Chillhouse’s award-winning press-on nails, Chill Tips, are also sold at retailers, including Target, Urban Outfitters, and Saks Fifth Avenue.

Nude press-on nails (Chill Tips) from Chillhouse scattered over a beige background. The top third of the photo features manicure supplies.
Image used with permission from Chillhouse.

“For us, Chillhouse has been far from Chill,” Ramirez-Fulton laughed while reflecting on the past. “But we’re past the choppy waters for sure!”

Feeling the love from fellow Latinas

The strength of the Latina community helped Ramirez-Fulton make her way through this journey. “I’m amazed at how much us Latinas support each other,” she said. “As we should!”

The Colombian-American owes her strength and dedicated work ethic to her culture. The hard work comes from caring deeply about her brand’s mission and how it will improve Chillhouse consumers’ lives. 

A hand holding a seashell, while modeling an iridescent blue set of Chill Tips.
Image used with permission from Chillhouse.

“I’d love to remind my fellow Latinas to slow down and take time for themselves much more,” Ramirez-Fulton said. “I hope to be an example that self-care isn’t selfish; it’s survival.”

Questions future Latina entrepreneurs should consider

Ramirez-Fulton lives by the phrase, “trust the process,” and says that whenever something feels impossible, there’s always a lesson to learn. 

“That lesson is also a stepping stone to something greater,” she adds. “And that greatness is where all roads will hopefully lead.”

For Latinas looking to trust their own process and venture into entrepreneurship, Ramirez-Fulton suggests doing your research. Other things to ask yourself include: “What makes you stand out? What makes what you do special, even if you’re not a part of the picture? How would this business survive if you weren’t a part of it?”

“[That’s a] big, important question that more founders should ask themselves,” said Ramirez-Fulton.

In an ideal world, Ramirez-Fulton says the businesses we create should stand on their own, so we can have time to cultivate a healthy work-life balance. After all, the Chillhouse way of life is setting time away just for yourself.