Kanti Organics founder left Colombia and never looked back

@CNNMoney May 8, 2012: 8:21 AM ET
Immigrants like Sandra Giraldo, who makes organic skin care products, are twice as likely to create a firm than those born in the United States.

Immigrants like Sandra Giraldo, who makes organic skin care products, are twice as likely to create a firm than those born in the United States.

NEW YORK (CNNMoney) -- Sandra Giraldo never meant to stay here.

When the Colombian economy tanked in 1999, the lingerie fashion designer traveled to the United States to study English, hoping it would help expand her business in the large city of Medellin.

At 31, she took off to Rhode Island's Providence area with $2,000. The visit never ended. She married in 2003, and opened up a spa with her husband three years later.

In 2009, she started making her own exfoliates from natural ingredients and offered to use them on clients. When they kept coming back and asking for more, she created Kanti Organics and launched her own line of serums, body scrubs and oils.

Using a small loan from the microfinance organization Accion, she built a website and created new, professional labels. She continues to create mixes in the spa's back rooms. Her selling point to customers is that there are no pesticides or chemicals.

The inspiration comes from her experience as a little girl in Colombia, where she and her grandmother would walk to the market and buy guava, papaya, eggs and salt. After mixing them back home, little Sandra would sit on the kitchen floor, closing her eyes and cradling her pet rabbit while Mamita would rub the mixture into her long, brown hair.

"I always had that entrepreneur in me," she said.

Read more about immigrant Hispanic small business owners:

El Pichy Films: A joke turned into a company

Refundo offers mobile banking for Spanish speakers

Orinoco creates jobs on both sides of the border

From tiny jungle town to a gourmet city shop called MarieBelle To top of page

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