“This year we expect a slow quinceañera season, it’s going to be tough,” said Marco Salcedo from Chula Vista.
Salcedo said that there were about 300 visitors at his Quinceañeras Magazine Expo event on Sunday (April 30) held at the San Diego Marriott Hotel Del Mar. This is his 12th year promoting events to connect the vendors and the customers.
“Last year we had 1,400 people attending,” Salcedo said, “we have like 300 now; it’s sad.” He said that 2017 has not been good for his businesses.
There were about 25 vendors which displayed their services to beautify and capture the traditional quinceañera experience.
The quinceañera is a traditional celebration of the fifteenth birthday of a young Hispanic woman. The family usually requests a Mass or a blessing to be held in church.
“Since Trump took over, my business became slow,” said Noel Leon, a photographer who had a table display at the show. Samples of his work were mounted in frames displayed on easels and in coffee books and photo albums on a table. “Business is slower by 40 percent for me, but my friends’ [photography businesses] are not [as] good.”
Salcedo said that photographers got hit the hardest in their industry because “now everyone’s got a camera,” as he pulled out his smartphone.
Gabriela Vazquez and Brenda Enciso are hair and makeup artists that had side-by-side tables. They both agreed that their businesses have dropped about 50 percent this year and usually by April, they should have their weekends booked – booked so much that they never had time to do shows like this one. They charge about $120 for a complete hair and makeup job (1.5 hours) and charge extra if they do airbrush work. “People are holding onto their money in case the worst happens,” said Vazquez.
Salcedo said that he has watched his business shift from a 40 percent upswing after Obama was first elected in 2007 to now a 50 percent downswing after Trump was elected. “When Obama promised that he would help fix the situation of the illegal immigrants (in 2007), the people felt secure and they spent money [on quinceañeras],” he said, “… but now some need to save money because they are scared that they [or a family member] might get deported.”
There were other businesses present at the exposition like lenders (Wells Fargo Bank), venues, caterers, DJs, videographers, floral arrangers, tux rentals (for the chambelanes), and dress designers.
“To be honest, I am not affected that much because I sell my dresses to [clients from] other cities too,” said April from April Black Diamond’s in Los Angeles. She said that her business has remained at the same level and her dresses range from $1500 to $8000. “That’s an amazing Victorian dress,” said one of the girls as she pointed to the dress to the left of April’s table. “It’s about $5000 and it takes us about three months to make it,” April said.
At approximately 2:00 p.m., six models decked in quinceañera glamour (dress, heels, with face and hair made-up) strutted on the elevated stage in front of the 200-or-so spectators. Some 14-year-old girls had their social media apps recording the models as they got “live” feedback from their classmates.
“Times are different” said Gloria, the manager of Paris Hall at 4120 Alpha St. Her venue is located in South Park and can seat about 300 people. “Business is slower by 40 percent,” she said. She added that parents, until this year, would have an average budget of $5000 to rent a venue, “now it’s less, more like $3500.”
John designs custom quinceañera and wedding invitations and sells them on the Etsy website. He charges $20-$200 depending if he has to print and ship, or simply email the customer the file (and they can print the invitations at their location). “Man, business is bad,” he said, “I have heard that many people are scared to throw big parties in fear that they might get raided.”
Salcedo understands what many of his vendors are feeling and said that it will get better with time. “Do not be scared, we are getting into a vicious circle if we do not spend,” he said, “the anger towards the president, will only hurt our [own] people.”
He is advising his vendors with options as well, “we need to expand our services and [gain] knowledge of the other cultures to increase our income, like servicing the debutants,” he said.
One venue in City Heights is ahead of the curve. The Royal Hall, which was called Five Star Hall, was a popular venue for the quinceañera. Last month, the owner decided to make the venue a Vietnamese restaurant during the weekdays and still host parties on the weekend.