Most Influential, Business: Maritza Lopez
Entrepreneur uses her experience to aid others
By Linda Lowry March 3, 2023
Maritza Lopez is one of Seattle’s 25 most influential people reshaping our region. #mostinfluential
What began as a kind gesture to share her knowledge of cosmetology has blossomed into a flourishing business for Maritza Lopez. Along the way, Lopez has mentored dozens of young women in need of guidance and career opportunities in the midst of very challenging circumstances.
Lopez, the founder and chief executive officer of Maritza’s Beauty College in Lakewood, immigrated to the United States in 2010 from El Salvador because she needed a safer environment in which to raise her two young daughters. Unfortunately, only Maritza’s paperwork was approved, and she made the difficult decision to leave her children behind until she established herself in the U.S. Her children, now in their early 20s, came here just three years ago. Both are currently instructors at the college.
Lopez, whose mother was a licensed cosmetologist, began learning the business of beauty when she was 12. Upon her arrival in the U.S., she initially found work in a bakery while attending cosmetology school in her “free” time. She began teaching her new friends in her small apartment and soon the word spread about her impromptu classes. She opened her beauty school in 2015.
Like her, many of Lopez’ students are single mothers who need a career to provide for their families. Lopez has helped numerous students overcome poverty, drugs and domestic violence. Many are now thriving instead of just trying to survive.
“I don’t know where I’d be without her,” says one student. “She saved me.”
Last year, 60 students graduated from Maritza’s Beauty College. Sixty more will graduate this year. Her next goal is to certify her school to make it eligible for federal funds, which will allow her students to receive scholarships to help pay for their education.
Her mission statement succinctly captures her philosophy: “Great minds have goals, the rest, just wishes. Always remember that your dreams are bigger than your fears. It’s never too late to start over.”