Maria de Lourdes Sobrino
Maria de Lourdes Sobrino
Founder of Lulu's Dessert Corporation
Los Angeles, California
Private accountant, systems programmer
I am a natural born entrepreneur with passion creating businesses from nothing.
What brought you to this country?
The curiosity of understanding how to do business in the United States. I expanded my Mexican travel business and opened a branch in Los Angeles in 1982.
Born and raised in Mexico City, my first business was in the tourism industry with an initial focus on organizing conventions and events. I later expanded my business to a travel agency, which grew so rapidly that I decided to open an office in Los Angeles. In 1982, I had to close my Mexican travel business due to the unstable economic conditions in Mexico; however, my entrepreneurial spirit grew stronger and I began to explore other passions and ideas.
I had this great idea of ready-to-eat gelatin when looking for the popular dessert while living in the U.S. A staple in her native Mexico, the concept was new to the U.S. and a novelty when I introduced it to American grocers in California. I recognized a need, filled it and revolutionized the food industry by creating the first-ever ready-to-eat gelatin category, based on my own mother's recipe.
What problems did you face when you got here?
I didn't know anyone, brought my capital from Mexico and opened my travel business.
What were some of the things you learnt on the way?
I had to learn another type of business immediately so I decided to start manufacturing gelatin desserts ready to eat with my mother's recipe and introduce them to the US grocers a traditional Mexican dessert in Mexico without knowing what I was doing.
As the business grows I got more interested in the project and I stayed learning from my experience.
From the initial production of 300 cups of gelatin a day, Lulu's Dessert® has overcome many challenges and obstacles to become a leading maker of ready-to-eat desserts.
What challenges did you face in the transition to get to where you are today?
A divorce, lack of capital, knowledge of the food industry, marketing, distribution, equipment and machinery, financing, legal issues. All at the same time. I do not know how I survived.
If given an opportunity, what would you have done differently? All my mistakes and my triumphs… I would never trade them for anything else. If I had to go back 25 years ago and do this again, I would do it exactly the same way.
What kept you inspired to do better?
My determination to become successful and giving up is not in my vocabulary.
What are your current personal & professional pursuits?
Take care of my teenage daughter Monica (20 and my Mother (82) in Mexico, still be the CEO of Lulu's Desserts, finish writing my first book coming up in September 07 called "Thriving Latina Entrepreneurs in America", expand my public speaking engagements and motivate and inspire others to become entrepreneurs.
I was honored to get recognized and invited to be part of President George W. Bush's, Economic Forum in Waco, Texas to represent "Small Businesses". I lent my time and expertise to identify obstacles to increase jobs and economy in America.
I am on the advisory board for Nawbo-LA Enterprise Institute, Rancho Santiago Community College Foundation, The Institute of Women Entrepreneurs (IWE) in Orange County, NAFIN (Nacional Financiera an investment bank in Mexico) and Latina Style Magazine in Washington DC.
I support the Orphanages of Baja as a spokesperson for Corazón de Vida Foundation. Also I am a founding member of the Working Families for Wal-Mart (WFMM) steering committee.
I wish to continue learning every day more about different subjects, relationships, and friends, spiritually, business, life and have a healthy lifestyle.
What are your hobbies? How do you relax? Are you able to manage work life balance?
Right now my book has been my hobby for the past year, I travel for business and visit family in Mexico, take care of my homes in the US and Mexico. I help a non-profit in Yucatan with one of my Mentors. Yes, I have been single for many years and I love my freedom and have learned to manage work, life balance. Love to dance, opera and special events.
What is next in your life?
The tour of my book combines with public presentations in the US and Latin America. I am already thinking in the subject of my second book. I would like to write about Women Entrepreneurs from the world and learn about their obstacles and share it with the world.
What resources at Invicibelle.com do you think would help women who wish to come to this country?
Learn from all of us and read as much as they can about the experiences that we are now sharing with others so they do not have to go through the same obstacles we did. My wish is to save them time, effort and cost.
From your vast experience, what is your message for women who wish to either move to this country or are already here? I believe that we all must constantly adapt and improve ourselves…….We women have special characteristics that help us achieve our dreams. Not to be afraid and have the ability to overcome obstacles.
What should a multicultural woman do to grow as a leader?
Have an adventurous spirit, take high tolerance of risk, be creative and determination.
Every woman has to keep up with one or more roles – a mother, a wife, a professional. What advice you have for multicultural women who need to keep a healthy balance between these roles?
You can do it, just focus. You can learn taking care of yourself by being the first one on your priority list. If you don't feel good the rest of the world is not going to be well. Those who don't have partner in their lives like me learn how to make the best of your independence and be strong and enjoy life.