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  • Writer's pictureCouncilmember Scarlet Peralta


The talented and passionate Alexandra Soto owner of The Upstairs, the new Skin and Beauty Bar in downtown Montebello, was one of the honorees for my Favorite Montebello Women-Owned Business initiative. Her editorial was featured in this months Montebello Reporter. Thank you, Alex, for all that you do to uplift and showcase our community to the world, and for the lovely shoutout, you gave me. “Downtown areas are famously known for being central hubs for society. People gather downtown. They work, shop, dine, worship, stroll, and live. Downtown Montebello is like a flame that never dies. At times, the flame is just a flicker, but the fire always burns. Montebello has been the most consistent place of inspiration for me, all my life. I wasn’t born or raised here, but I grew up hearing about Montebello and visiting it from my hometown: Fontana, Ca. How could Montebello have such a big impact on a little girl so far away? The answer is simple: my mom has cut hair in this city for over 35 years. Although my mother was born and raised in East LA, she commuted to Montebello, even after purchasing a home in Fontana in the late 80s. Like many, my mom became a commuter into Montebello, a commute she did for nearly 28 years. I always appreciated Montebello because this community gave my mom a livelihood that not only paid for my education but also continues to be a source of inspiration. Montebello is different from other cities because more people leave every day for work than average, and more people commute into Montebello for work than average as well, at least this was the case pre-pandemic. That creates an interesting dynamic, and an opportunity. A city created over 100 years ago, one that many value, love, and call home, should be thriving in culture, art, and beauty! We have diversity within our community and we cannot be afraid to show it and celebrate it! In January this year, the Montebello Community was pleasantly surprised to see artwork go up throughout the city on utility boxes. The designs for images used on these street utility boxes were from Montebello students; various 4th through 8th graders created them. I was thrilled to see the artwork in public spaces! For years, many have attempted efforts in trying to change old codes from the 1970’s that prohibited paint on the walls. As a 2nd generation Beautician, I would like to see more beauty and art in my local community. So, my small business, along with a small team of volunteers, created it! Now that paint has begun to show face in our public spaces, I became inspired to bring my world of beauty and fashion to the streets of Montebello. World Art Day was April 15th and we celebrated in the community by uniting fashion, beauty, and art for a high fashion shoot! Descartes Cosmetics sponsored hair and makeup kits for 3 models to pose with the art boxes. Sathina Camberos, Makeup Artist from Hair Philosophy, provided makeup services on all 3 models. Lanni Ella, the clothing and accessories boutique on 5th and Whittier Blvd., sponsored wardrobe for the fashion walk/photoshoot. Local videographer/photographer, Josh Quintero, aka Josh the Director, volunteered to shoot, film, and edit the final shots. The models included: Francine Ayala (Montebello Resident), Kristin Nelson (LA Fashion Week Runway Model), and myself, Alex Soto (Beauty Entrepreneur). We all came together in the name of art, beauty, fashion, and Montebello! The photoshoot ran from 8am-2pm and began in Downtown Montebello on 5th and Whittier Blvd. The day was filled with stories of how art impacts each individual. People shared what Montebello means to them and stories of how the community has evolved over time. Non-Montebello participant, Kristin Nelson, was touched to see how dedicated the local people involved were to bringing art awareness to the public eye. Some local people passing by stopped to take pictures with the models. It was a really cool thing to experience and see! The day ended at Taylor Ranch, where I wanted to take a moment and thank one of our City Council members: Scarlet Peralta. In March, International Women’s Month, Scarlet honored Montebello female entrepreneurs for their dedication and contributions to the community. I was awarded, but due to LA Fashion Week, could not be present. I wanted to thank Councilmember Scarlet Peralta and all of the City Council for working diligently for this community. The people of Montebello are what makes this city beautiful. Ralph Waldo Emerson said, “beauty without expression is boring.” Whether it is paint on the walls, an oversized print bag, spice in your food, color in your hair, or whatever ways you express your passion, these are the ways we are unique! Celebrate it! This art project was brought to you by small businesses in Downtown Montebello. If you haven’t stopped by in a while, pay a visit to the local shops, as well as Angry Horse Brewing and BLVD MRKT. “ Editorial By: Alexandra M. Soto

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