A one of a kind business with a one of a kind backstory

The mannequins are draped with glamorous dresses behind the glass windows. The chandelier’s crystal lights hang from the ceiling and glisten through the brightly-lit gallery. The large logo painted in the wall of a women standing tall with confidence draped in a bright red dress represents the store as a whole. It’s an elegant place where anybody can find the dress of their dreams. Two towering mirrors show off the exquisite selection on the guests — sparkling through the shimmering chandelier above. While the women take their time browsing through the infinite amount of doll-like dresses— the husbands and children are seated in the couch area near the mirrors where they are served tea, coffee or water while kids get candy. The delicate smell of vanilla bean fills the store with a sweet aroma of vanilla baked cookies.

Ramiro Alvarez— the store owner— stands at the front greets his guests with

“How can I help you today? Looking for anything in specific?”

Nestled away in south Seattle lies La Brisa’s Boutique. This little store offers some of the most unique dresses and tuxedos — and one of the most unique stories.

Ramiro Alvarez was born and raised in Mexico and immigrated to the United States in 1989 at age 18. He decided to move to the United States in hope of a better future than the one Mexico offered.

But his path wasn’t easy.

Alvarez lived with 11 siblings and his parents in a single room. His father — a violent alcoholic — forced Alvarez away from the home. Instead of playing with toys, he played with bottle caps and dirt.

“My dad was an alcoholic and violent, [he] came home and fought with my mother [and] threatened to kill her with a machete or gun. He chased her down the streets. It was there when I cried because I was afraid that he would kill her and my mom would never come back home again.”

The only place where Alvarez found peace was at the beach — a three hour walk.

Alvarez looked at the beach houses and yearned for a stable life. He figured if they could attain such great wealth, then he could too.

“There I realized that one could live better because I would see others that were economically stable and that gave me motivation to work hard and live better to reach my goals.”

Alvarez decided his best option was to move to the U.S.

“I was still in high school and wanted to attend the university but didn’t have the money, so I was looking for a job to pay the education for architecture.”

His brother — who lived in Seattle — had promised to provide free shelter with no cost so he could save money for his education. When he arrived, however, his brother charged him rent and made him help pay the bills.

Alvarez ended up moving out and losing the vision of the goal — but he never lost his aspiration.

“There was two things that I always wanted and I swore to myself that I would fight to get one of the two, a degree in architecture or my own business.”

Despite his initial rough experiences, he started working in the orchards — picking fruit for $4.75 an hour. While working, he also went to a nearby school where he learned English. He knew learning the language would improve his chances to get a better job.

After leaving the orchards, Alvarez decided to open a Taco Truck in Aurora near his apartment. The truck failed, however, as he received little business. He had used all his savings and, frustrated, started searching for jobs again.

Soon enough, he found a restaurant which he believed was stable. The job was not what he expected, however, as he was harassed by his supervisor for his ethnic background. Tired of being abused, he left the restaurant upset. It was then where he decided to open his cleaning business with the savings he had earned from both previous jobs.

“I couldn’t believe there was a lot of authority abuse, I left the job crying, I couldn’t believe the racism. I said to myself no more and started working by myself cleaning houses.”

Alvarez opened his company —Rosita House Cleaning — which was named after his mother.

Alvarez printed flyers and handed them out around Seattle. Surprisingly, homeowners took notice to the flyers and started contacting him. His business quickly expanded, and soon Alvarez began hiring in additional help. After roughly five years, Alvarez had a fully-functioning cleaning service with a large employee base — and an even larger clientele base.

“During that time, I was teaching choreographies for quinceañeras and cleaning houses to pay for the cleaning supplies and bills. I then realized that by teaching others there was a big business opportunity”

Alvarez decided to open a boutique that specializes in quinceañera decorations. As the store progressed, however, the boutique began specializing in elegant dresses — specifically for quinceañeras. The result was his dream store — La Brisa’s Boutique.

The boutique is named after his niece — who is a cancer survivor. The store’s name represents not only the struggle his niece went through, but also the struggle Alvarez went through. The store took pure hope and happiness to succeed, and in the end, Alvarez survived through positivity and hope.

Alvarez took the hard way to success — but he never gave up hope or lost his drive to succeed.

“I feel very happy and proud of myself for this achievement.”

PHOTO BY ANNA HOWELL

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