Hispanic Entrepreneurs Oral History Project
Summary of Interview
Born in 1946 and raised in Mexico City, Lorraine Wardy moved to the United States at age 18 when she married a man she met in El Paso. Since then, she has lived in El Paso for at least forty years. Her three children, one girl and two boys, each became successful entrepreneurs in other industries. Her first business emerged after divorcing her husband; She opened a “surf shop” named Locals Only that sold the latest clothes, shoes, and skateboards. She was later inspired to start her own clothing brand that she successfully marketed in New York. She went on to open her own warehouse and also imported clothing that her sister who lived in Mexico City was unable to sell. Her clothing brand, named Opal, grew as a successful brand in both New York and New Jersey despite various complaints that the clothing she designed was too short. Wardy decided to leave the business at it began to expand excessively since it was no longer the small, family-owned company that she envisioned. Eager to go back to work, she was later offered a job in Tim Sarabia’s mobile toiletry business; Later, he sold his business to Wardy. The business operates by buying equipment made by porta potty designers and is rented out to patrons for various events such as church events, quinceñeras, and weddings. Thanks to the expertise from past employees the firm continued to thrive despite concerns that she did not know how to run the business. Some of the challenges she faced as a business owner was feeling belittled by others for being a woman. She also experienced advantages as Hispanic business because she is able to communicate in both English and Spanish to clients. Wardy foresees an improving business climate for future Hispanic entrepreneurs and urges that they become passionate about what they pursue.
Date of Interview
Length of Interview
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Interview with Lorraine Wardy by Alejandra Diaz, 2009, "Interview no. 1514," Institute of Oral History, University of Texas at El Paso.