COLUMBUS, Ohio (WSYX) — For Gigi Lee, every cut she makes represents years of hard work. "Oh yay, it was really tough," she said.
And after being in the salon business for the last 20 years, it is finally paying off.
Just last year, Gigi bought her own place, 'G's Barber Beauty Salon on West Broad Street.'
It took a lot of perseverance to here.
"Before I start at Westland Mall. The only Asian woman, only me," said Lee.
Gigi's from South Korea. She moved to Ohio in 2002.
As a single mom, she says she turned to cutting hair as a way to save money.
"I have two boys. And we are always going to the barbershop. They didn't want someone else cutting their hair, they were always crying and crying," she said.
After finishing salon school, she took a job at a salon at Westland Mall where her clients were mainly African American men and women.
"They don't trust me," she said. Building her clientele took grit.
"Nobody helped me, they said, You know how to cut? They said you're an Asian woman," she said.
More women of all races and ethnicities are now becoming entrepreneurs.
According to a recent study by American Express, Asian American women run 9% of women-owned businesses from small to large companies.
On a larger scale, Anna Liu is the president and co-founder of 'Compass Tech International' in Dublin.
"It's like a compass, it gives direction, it guides people to find their right career," said Liu.
It's a recruiting firm with major clients like Honda and other businesses across the globe.
Anna moved to the US from China in hopes of the American Dream.
"23 years ago, I arrived in the U.S. with just a suitcase and a few hundred dollars and very minimal command of English," she said.
But she didn't let those barriers stop her and credits her mother for her tenacity.
"When we were kids, she told us as a girl, you always have to have education and skill. Because people can take everything away from you, but they can't take away your skill."
That advice still resonates today.
"I really learned from my mom. If you have a dream, work hard for it. Dreams do come true," said Liu.
Dreams are coming true for many Asian American women.
Despite obstacles, according to the National Asian/Pacific Islander Chamber of Commerce, they are one of the fastest-growing demographics of entrepreneurs.
"We are Asian women with strong mind, really strong work.," said Lee.
And Liu says,
"If you have a dream, believe in it. Chase it. Give it 100 percent."
They both say there is more room at the top for women.