Hispanic Entrepreneurs Oral History Project
Summary of Interview
Armando Alvarez was born and raised in El Paso, Texas. Alvarez played for the El Paso Patriots soccer team for three years, after turning down a scholarship to SMU. After working odd jobs around El Paso, Alvarez moved to Arizona to attend Collins College and became a graphic designer. He then found employment with different small glass companies such as Kraft Quality Glass, then moved to commercial companies. Alvarez states the main difference between large and small companies is the attention to detail. This is why he opened a small business in order to pay more attention to detail. Viva Creative Group concentrates on small local businesses in El Paso. He works with a group of freelancers and creates his own network. He claims that this model works the best for his graphic design company at this time, but eventually wants to grow his company. Alvarez remembers always being artistic and his mother wanting him to become an architect. Alvarez credits his parents for instilling values of education. Viva Creative Group began as a side project and then evolved into something more. While working for other companies, Alvarez learned how to work with a creative team and how to properly manage time. Working for these companies also helped his creativity and how to create ideas on a time frame. Alvarez as also influenced by his former boss to create his own business. Upon moving back to El Paso, Alvarez became employed by El Paso Magazine and eventually created his own agency to offer something different to the El Paso market. After coming out of a difficult business partnership, Alvarez separated and tried a networking approach to business. He still relies on word of mouth recommendations to keep his business going. Viva Creative Group offers a personal approach and attention to detail by taking on a small amount of clients. Viva also won national and regional awards recognizing their work. Reflecting on his business, Alvarez would have had a legal contract with his partner and have a business plan. Alvarez is currently working on a revised business plan in order to help his business grow and eventually have employees and not just a team of freelancers. When discussing El Paso business, there is a lack of job opportunities for graphic designers. Alvarez adds he hopes to see a growth in El Paso’s downtown area, and hopes to find contracts with larger companies.
Date of Interview
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Interview with Armando Alvarez by Edmundo Valencia, 2009, "Interview no. 1535," Institute of Oral History, University of Texas at El Paso.