In 1982 I was a senior at UC Berkeley with a US Green Card. Mexico had just nationalized the banks and I was worried that the monthly stipend my dad had been sending would stop. So, armed with the type of confidence that only young people have, I decided to go into business for myself.
I was the daughter of a powerful Latina immigrant, Dr. Norma Armon, who engineered a position at SIN Network (the precursor to Univision,) where she produced and hosted a daily magazine show. Mundo Latino was the first 4-hour daily magazine show produced and hosted by a Mexican immigrant who had come, with her daughter to find opportunities for women that were not available in Mexico.
Starting a business didn’t seem daunting, I knew how to sell. I sought out several video production companies that needed a good salesperson and convinced them to let me work with them on a commission basis. Through this process, I learned the video production ropes.
After graduating with a Bachelor’s degree, I moved to San Francisco and discovered the first networks supporting women entrepreneurs. Leaving a meeting with Pacific Bell in 1984 a client made what turned out to be a life-altering request, “Since you’re from Mexico can you turn a video we’re producing into Spanish?” I secured the contract, called Norma and told her that “we’ve made it!” Shortly thereafter Southern Pacific asked if we also did Japanese videos, of course, we did! A multilingual agency had been born.
After years of doing just video and telling our clients their collateral print material translations were inadequate, they asked us to take those translations on and we entered the field of print translation as well. In 1988 we started doing desktop publishing with the first Macs that went on to spawn the digital revolution. Nearly all our other services began with a customer request, and we are very proud to still serve many of our original clients after 3 decades.
From Analog to Digital
A lot has changed since we began this journey, and probably the biggest changes have been in technology. Once upon a time, our work was mostly local due to long shipping times needed to send materials across the country and even longer worldwide. I remember describing a fax machine to my dad one day when I was visiting him in Mexico. Incredulously he exclaimed: “but having an image of a document transmitted through the phone line is magic!” I remember searching high and low for a fax receiving station, and all the years spent living in internet cafes or on slow noisy modems while traveling and trying to keep up with work at the office.
We are very far from those first bulky “luggable” computers that Norma and I used when we started this business. Norma headed up our Los Angeles office back then, she and I would have to manually connect the computers to the telephone to send reports. Today computers are easily tucked into a bag and we can take advantage of a library of previously translated material through computer-aided translation which is constantly improving. We take advantage of all of the technological advances we can to keep quality consistent and to help lower costs for our customers.
It hasn’t always been easy, but with the support of our wonderful customers, corporate and government programs that empower minority women businesses, state-of-the-art technology, and especially, the hard work of our dedicated staff, we now provide over 20 services in more than 100 languages.
As we celebrate our 36th birthday, it is very gratifying to see what we have accomplished!