National Women’s History Month
Local Women-Owned Businesses: Part I
Aida’s: A Journey of Generations
Aida Sabha began her journey from Mexico City in 1979, where her mother, a role model of independent, strong women, built her successful restaurant and textile businesses. Guillermina Vargas also taught her daughter to be persistent and kind. She and a friend were the subjects of a documentary about The Troubles of 1978 for the many ways they aided people, including helping young students avoid arrest
Within a few years of making the United States her home, Aida made jewelry to sell to area boutiques. Soon Aida opened her first store in Old Town, where the Farm & Art Market building once stood, and it wasn’t long before she expanded. Eventually, moving to her current location on the corner of Washington and 1st Street.
“People were still not used to women owning businesses when I started, especially when I became a single mother,” Aida notes. Even Brighton, the vendor who is the cornerstone of her business, was uncertain about making her a dealer. “At the time, Brighton was beginning to build their brand, and they didn’t have jewelry or purses, only belts,” says Aida. There was little reason to worry—today, Aida’s is the largest Brighton dealer in the region!
“Growing with Brighton has been a real blessing,” says Aida. “That and having the opportunity to own my own business where I could bring Jamila [her daughter] to work, go to her school events, and enjoy her growing up.”
Those familiar with Aida’s, recall the days when Jamila was in a stroller and enjoyed watching her grow through the years. Jamila was a quick learner and realized how her mother interacted with their clients early on.
“My mom always told me everyone has something going on in their life. We want to enhance the good moment they’re having or uplift them if they seem a little blue,” says Jamila.
And it’s been that upbeat greeting from Aida and Jamila that continues to be the highlight of anyone’s day when they stop at Aida’s. These women love what they do and share that passion with everyone.
“I love to sell,” says Jamila, “because then I get to interact with people. I remember spending summers with my Grandma and working the whole day in the storefront. I loved it—and I love it now—it feels as though you’re having people into your home!”
In June 2021, these empowered women welcomed another member to their home—Jamila’s son, Matisse. Like his mother, he is quickly learning to enjoy retail, flashing his charming smile and big eyes to another generation of customers who will, no doubt, one day recall his years growing up at Aida’s—where it feels just like home!