Image-empty-state.png

CHRISTINA ZEPEDA

CEO, Christina’s Angels Inc.

Success:

Business Certification Training participant

In 2009, Christina Zepeda’s father broke his back and knee in an accident and was forced into early retirement. Shortly after, her mother was diagnosed with diverticulitis, a disease that affects the digestive system. With over 25% of U.S. adults performing caregiving duties, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), she certainly wasn’t alone when she found herself having to help her parents.

Christina began her career in sales and management at major wireless companies, including AT&T, T-Mobile, and Sprint. She went on to open several franchise cell phone stores, and at one point, the company was grossing over $1 million. But issues with her then-husband and business partner left her with nothing but debt when he closed the company. With her background in business and paralegal certification, she had hoped to go to law school and become an attorney. But as she cared for her parents, she found her calling and inspiration for her next career move—to become a certified nursing assistant (CNA) and home health aide.

“It took God to bring me to my knees to see what I was supposed to do,” Christina said, noting that she’s no stranger to caregiving as her mother worked in the industry for 40 years.

Upon receiving her certifications, Christina started Christina’s Angels Senior Caregiving Services (now part of Christina’s Angels Inc.), bringing compassionate, reliable, and trustworthy care throughout the State of California. The company assists with bathing, grooming, meal preparation, light housekeeping, medication reminders, and transportation. Christina also built a strong relationship with program staff the school she attended and began recruiting their graduates to work for her. Eventually, she was encouraged by a friend to explore opportunities with the U.S. Veterans Administration (VA) and was awarded her first contract in 2015.

Eventually, Christina’s Angels’ services expanded to janitorial services since they were already cleaning for bedridden clients. When the coronavirus pandemic hit, Christina got her business certified in COVID-19 disinfection and safety. She noticed that many commercial clients would leave items behind and capitalized on this opportunity by incorporating trash removal and moving services into her business. Since 2017, Christina’s Angels has been awarded contracts with the Los Angeles Unified School District, U.S. Vets – Inland Empire, and Step Up on Second.

Not only does the company provide much-needed services, but Christina is also helping her community through employment opportunities. “I hire ex-convicts,” she explained. “It’s giving them a second chance, just like these nonprofits are helping people coming out of homelessness. They know what it’s like to be down on your luck.”

Christina also takes great pride in running a small, family-owned company. “Staff members are happy to work on another project because of the one-on-one interaction. And if they need a day off, I give it to them. If my employees are happy, I’m going to be happy, and they’re going to stay with me longer,” she said.

Owning and operating a small business is no easy task, and Christina is currently working to address one of the biggest challenges many women minority business owners face—access to capital. “It’s so frustrating because I have these lucrative opportunities. They request 30 nurses, but I can’t afford that payroll,” she said. “Right now, I’m trying to overcome that by working with Lendistry and the SBA [U.S. Small Business Administration].”

Despite these challenges, Christina has much to be proud of. “I was really depressed, especially after everything that happened with my ex-husband,” she shared. “But I was able to reinvent myself in a whole new world. I had no idea about government contracting, codes, and certifications. I’m so excited that I kept going.”

When Christina discovered the MBDA Enterprising Women of Color Business Center in Hawaii was doing a Business Certification Training, she immediately signed up for the Zoom course. “Marla sent us [the participants] a follow-up email and asked how we were doing and for feedback. She has just been really reachable,” Christina said. “The training was really awesome because they [instructors Mari and Jose Villa] walked us through step-by-step to apply for certification and the importance of keeping your capability statement updated. It helps me because my goal is to expand to nearby states and Hawaii is one of them.”

To her fellow woman entrepreneurs and small business owners, Christina offers the following advice: “Be patient and don’t get frustrated. That’s what happens with a lot of us. We want it to happen tomorrow, we’ve talked ourselves into this, and now we’re like, nothing’s happening. I didn’t see emails or anything for two years. Also, have at least have six months in estimated payroll reserves. My first big contract was with the VA and it took four to six months to get reimbursed. I could’ve just given up and said forget it, but I kept pushing through. Now the VA reaches out to me directly. When you build that reputation, people will start chasing you."