Angelica Sele of Angelica B Beauty creates safe space for women
The Chula Vista native promotes an inclusive environment at her skincare studio in South Park
Growing up in Chula Vista, Angelica Sele never thought she’d become a business owner.
“I don’t come from a family of entrepreneurs,” Sele said. “It was never really my dream to work on my own.”
A lot has changed since then. Sele now runs Angelica B Beauty — a skincare studio and boutique in South Park that focuses on holistic methods and individualized care. However, Sele’s mission is more than skin deep.
“I am a great waxer and I have a lot of skincare knowledge, but I think more than that the reason my clients do follow us is that I really do believe in supporting each other,” she said.
In addition to waxing, facials, sunless tanning and eyelash extensions — along with a retail shop with skincare, makeup and wellness products — Angelica B Beauty provides another service: community.
“It’s just kind of naturally happened; I was doing these (skincare) services and creating this community of women and we were talking,” Sele said. “The conversations that would happen in the room — we were talking about such amazing things. When I had my first child, I was talking to other moms that were going through the same thing; we were breastfeeding around the same time.”
At her studio, Sele strikes to prompt honest dialogue and cultivate a safe space for women — somewhere they can feel comfortable opening up and asking questions, from skin conditions to sexual wellness.
“(Women) don’t talk to each other nearly enough about the truth — about the good, the bad and the ugly,” Sele said. “And that’s one thing I really want to do for my business, and for my clients, is to have Angelica B Beauty be a place where you can come and always feel beautiful, and always feel heard, and always feel understood.”
These conversations in the salon don’t just benefit her clients. The studio owner has also found solace in their shared words, and she understands the importance of these dialogues from personal experience.
“As a woman myself, I’ve gone through a lot of things, whether it be having my children or being single for six years,” she said. “I felt alone a lot of times and I felt like I didn’t have the right information — and I think without knowledge you don’t feel empowered.”
And the struggle to feel empowered began early. While Sele says she loves hometown, she didn’t always feel welcome growing up in Chula Vista.
“I always did things very differently — and that wasn’t always really embraced,” Sele says of her upbringing in a Catholic, traditional home, adding that she felt pressure to be “a good girl.”
“I am proud of my culture and I am proud of where I come from, but I want to modernize it a little bit more,” Sele continues. “I want women to feel more powerful than maybe sometimes they feel with certain influences.”
Sele says she needed exposure to new experiences in order to grow, resulting in moves to San Francisco and North Park. She eventually found her way back to Chula Vista, where she owns a house near her parents. And she plans to raise her kids in the neighborhood — but Sele is determined to teach her daughter that she can do anything.
“I love when I get one of me in the room (at Angelica B Beauty) — a young Chula Vista girl,” Sele said. “And it’s not just Chula Vista. When you come from a place where you see a lot of the same stuff, it’s really important to see more than what you’re exposed to at times. I think that’s why I do get excited for the possibility for all of these young women.”
From dream to reality
Sele began her beauty career at Sephora, where she worked for six years before walking away with the budding idea of opening her own place.
“The first dream was really just a little makeup studio — where I could create something kind of like Sephora, but that was more intimate,” she says, comparing the concept to going over to the house of a friend who knows a lot about cosmetics, and then invites you to experiment and play around with the products.
After some research, Sele learned she would need insurance and a license to move forward. So Sele swapped makeup for skincare and became an esthetician.
Sele started her business, Angelica B Beauty, out of the back of a North Park hair salon. Once she had built up her client list, and felt the itch for more independence, Sele was able to open up a space of her own.
Last year, Angelica B Beauty was forced to leave its North Park roots when the business’ building was sold during the pandemic. In July 2020, they packed up and moved across town, finding a new home in South Park.
Sele was initially disappointed to be leaving her original neighborhood, but relocating to South Park has allowed Angelica B Beauty to expand its footprint and network. Situated in the Burlingame Garage, the approximately 1,500-square-foot salon now has five treatment rooms and is surrounded by many other small businesses that have offered support.
“The community is super welcoming, and they’re very small business oriented here,” Sele says of South Park.
Like many small business owners, Sele’s story of success did not come without its challenges, especially when it came to networking. She notes that the beauty industry can be very territorial and competitive, with peers in the field feeling protective of their knowledge and shielding their secrets from newcomers.
“And it was even harder as a minority,” she said. “I felt like that there was a lot of communities for Caucasian women. I would see them, and I would see that they all look the same. And I would try (to join), but for some odd reason it would never really work. And you know, there could be a lot of factors to that — I can’t say that it was just color of skin — but it was unfortunate. And so that’s where I think there’s a huge opportunity.”
Sele intends to buck tradition and use her success to lift up young woman — or young to being an entrepreneur — who want to break into the beauty industry. While she notes that newcomers need to put in the work, Sele adds that those who are established, herself included, need to step up and be a mentor to these women.
“I do think we need more women-owned businesses out there, and especially minority (owned),” she said. “So I invite them in!”
Angelica B Beauty is located at 2226 Fern St. in South Park. For more information, visit angelicabbeauty.com.
Sign up for the Pacific Insider newsletter
PACIFIC magazine delivers the latest restaurant and bar openings, festivals and top concerts, every Tuesday.
You may occasionally receive promotional content from the Pacific San Diego.