We continue our celebration of Hispanic Heritage Month and Latino entrepreneurship with the story of Lulu Medina, owner of Salon LaRouge in Chicago and a tireless advocate for emerging small businesses in her community.
Lulu Medina and her husband Rupert are putting down deep roots in the Belmont Cragin neighborhood of Chicago, the city’s largest Latino community where 80 percent of residents trace their roots to Mexico, Puerto Rico, Ecuador and Guatemala. Working with LISC’s longtime partner, Northwest Side CDC, the couple purchased a house for their young family after completing a first-time homebuyer’s class, and Lulu’s involvement with Belmont Cragin blossomed from there.
She became a block leader, organizing local PlayStreets, events that create safe play spaces for children, and hosting meetings to discuss residents' concerns and aspirations for the neighborhood. She has also presided over two neighborhood park associations, working to improve the conditions and safety of the community’s green space. “Through these experiences,” Lulu said, “I got to know my neighbors better, and advocated for my block.”
In addition to community organizing, Lulu is also the proud owner of Salon LaRouge, a beloved destination for back-to-school haircuts, quinceañera ‘dos, and everything in between. Small business development programs at Northwest Side helped her lease a space, incorporate the salon and beef up her marketing, and she hopes to buy her own brick and mortar storefront soon. Today, she is a champion for other Latino entrepreneurs, lobbying for better access to capital and technical support, to create an equitable and dynamic small business ecosystem in Belmont Cragin.