By Nancy Reyes
From studded peplum dresses, to gorgeous crochet-detailed blouses and ivory-chiffon minis who wouldn’t want to get into the spirit of winter fashion? With trend-setting items at a reasonable price Modas Inc. is a dream come true for those of us with expensive taste but not much money to spend. Located on 6502 Cermak Road, Modas Inc. is known for its cocktail dresses and club apparel; and has currently become very popular among fashion-conscious students in the area.
Gabriela Lopez, local business owner of Modas Inc. and proud alumni of Rosary College (now known as Dominican University) shares with us her story of how she overcame some of the struggles of being a young entrepreneur in the 90’s and how she has grown to become a successful Latina business owner in the town of Berwyn today.
Lopez was raised in the south side of Chicago and attended Curie Metropolitan High School from 1983-1987. After high school she and her family moved to the suburbs. She says that her decision to go to college was influenced by her surroundings.
After moving to the suburbs, which according to Lopez were predominantly white communities, she would hear a lot about families sending their children off to college.
“I thought it was weird, but I wanted to have that same experience too.” Lopez said.
Lopez attained her Associate’s degree at Harper College at the age of 20, and graduated from Rosary College in 1994 with a Bachelor’s degree in Fashion Apparel. She admits that being a business owner was not her primary goal after graduation; in fact, neither was attending college.
“Times were different back in the 90’s,” she says. “My parents had recently migrated from Mexico in the early 70’s and after high school it was natural for young adults to either get a job or go to college. My parents’ mindset was that I’d get a job after high school, but fortunately things didn’t turn out that way.” She said.
After getting her Bachelor’s degree at Rosary College, Lopez initially wanted to get a career as a buyer for high-end clothing, but a trip to the mall changed her life completely.
“I was working as a merchandise coordinator for Cover Girl at the time, and well I didn’t really like it. My job was to go to different territories in the Chicago land area, and pretty much revise whether the merchandise was being presented correctly.”
She says that she got her job with Cover Girl through a news paper ad, but a trip to the mall helped her change gears.
“Lord and Taylor was having a sale at the time. And they were selling these very extravagant gowns, and very sexy apparel.”
Gabriela says that she did not struggle in the business world because she was a Mexican-American woman; in fact she says that society actually encouraged her to branch out because she was in fact a woman and a minority.
“Perspectives are continuously changing, I don’t ever recall being put down because of my heritage or gender, in any case I was encouraged to do so because of those reasons. When I held my business in Chicago most of my competitors were apparel businesses owned by men, and they never treated me any less for being women, none the less for being Mexican. I, however, secretly envied them because they had more access to their family. I on the other hand felt like I had to juggle responsibilities, being a parent and a business owner.”
Gabriela Lopez today, focuses on her store from Monday through Saturday. Her business hours are Mon-Tues: 12pm-7pm; Wed-Fri: 11am-8pm; and Sat 11am-7:30pm. And Sundays are closed.