Built by a single mother in her mid-twenties, Larger Than Lice™ has a truly rich history. Eliana Ortega, founder and CEO, immigrated to the United States from Ecuador with her young daughter almost a decade ago. Traveling with only essential belongings and knowing only basic English, Eliana dreamed of a better life in New York City for herself and her daughter. She set two long-term goals upon arriving in the Big Apple: to be her own boss and to have a flexible schedule allowing her to dedicate more time to her daughter. Between English classes, a series of entry-level jobs, and the challenges of raising a daughter by herself, lice were the last thing on Eliana’s mind.
While searching for opportunities to earn more money for her family, Eliana serendipitously found work with a lice-removal service. The job made it easier for Eliana to pay her bills, and she was surprised by how much she enjoyed helping families deal with the embarrassing and stressful crisis a lice infection can create. Eliana’s bubbly and gentle personality was almost as infectious as the lice themselves! She fell in love with meeting and treating so many diverse families across the city, but still found herself wanting more independence and free time to spend with her daughter. Determined to grab life by the horns – or antennae! – Eliana traveled to the Shepherd Institute in Florida to receive training and certification that would enable her to launch her own business.
Despite being college-educated and having 10 years of experience in the insurance industry in her born country, Eliana soon found that being a small business owner was the toughest challenge she had ever faced. With accumulating debt and not a single client over the first few months, Eliana “crawled” her way into the field by offering free lice checks in schools all over New York City. Facing strong competition throughout the city, Eliana believed she could provide customers with a better option for lice removal. Unlike other services that billed by the hour, Eliana offered a flat rate based on hair length and severity of infestation, allowing her clients to relax through treatment without having to “watch the clock”. Her business was soon receiving recommendations from highly satisfied clients (just read her glowing Yelp! Reviews), and it has grown rapidly since then. The name Larger than Lice™ reflects Eliana’s can-do attitude, her resiliency, and her ability to give families the perspective that there are bigger things to worry about in life than lice!
Since the launch of business in 2015 (previously Lice Treatment Group, LLC), Larger Than Lice™ has treated over a thousand families. It provides the highest quality of care by following a standardized lice removal system: "The Shepherd Method™ of Strand-by-Strand Nit Removal." This unique approach leaves clients happily lice-free, and is faster and safer than any other method available. Larger Than Lice™ experts are well-trained and love their work because they see clients as family.
When Eliana is not working as the “Lice Lady,” as she is often called by children, she is exploring her many other interests. She is currently a student at The City University of New York and participates in Toastmasters International. She also enjoys meeting other strong ambitious women. She is a member of WE NYC, a program that helps female entrepreneurs start and grow their businesses.