From Part-Time Receptionist to Business Owner — at 24

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As a woman business owner, for me freedom means my success is in my hands. I am not limited by where I started from, misconceptions about my abilities, how people see me, or where I grew up.

I am the founder and CEO of PearlTrans Logistics in Los Angeles. I am very different from others in the courier business. In fact, I’m the exact opposite of those who have been in this business for many years. I’m younger, I’m a little darker, and I’m a woman. Yet I had the freedom to work my way up in this industry from a part-time receptionist to a business owner at the age of 24.

I started in a male-dominated industry when I was 17. I had the freedom to harness my abilities to work my way up to vice president of operations in a few years’ time. It was my hard work and thirst for knowledge that helped me do that. I was free to learn the business and to take on more responsibility, and when the owner of the company said he was closing, I was free, at age 24, to start my own company.

"I started in a male-dominated industry when I was 17. I had the freedom to harness my abilities to work my way up to vice president of operations in a few years’ time."

It took a few months of going back and forth and convincing myself I could start my own business. I scheduled a visit to my bank to apply for a business loan. I arrived with my budget and projected cash-flow statements for the next 12 months. The loan officer was more concerned with how old I was and told me to come back when I reached my first million dollars in revenue. I asked him how I was supposed to get there if they didn’t help me.

I’ve been told “no” so many times in my life, ever since I can remember, I’ve learned to ignore it. I just had to find another way around. I was able to borrow $25,000 from a friend of a friend, and on December 1, 2011, Pearl was born. I agreed I would pay back this loan in three years but paid it back in nine months. Four years later, in 2015, I reached my first million-dollar year, one of just a small percentage of small businesses to do so.

Today, that company, PearlTrans Logistics, delivers everything from human tissue to aircraft parts throughout Southern California, the U.S., and even internationally. We offer on-demand courier services, routed deliveries, next-flight-out services, trucking, warehousing and distribution, and customized logistics services.

The freedom offered by the United States allowed me — a 24-year-old woman at the time and the daughter of immigrants from Guatemala — to start my own business. It was freedom that allowed me to succeed in an industry where few others look and act like me. It was freedom that held open the door that I barged through, toward success.

Owning my own business has given me the freedom to accomplish many things that I didn’t even think were possible: from being the first woman in my family to live on her own, financially independent, without a husband, to one who travels to a remote village in Guatemala to volunteer my time and inspire other women to empower themselves by means of faith and entrepreneurship, to becoming the first Latina and the youngest woman to be elected to the board of directors of the logistics’ industry’s largest national trade association.

This post is part of a series produced by CircleAround and NAWBO. Founded in 1975, NAWBO is the unified voice of over 10 million women-owned businesses in the United States.

Lorena Camargo, 32, is the CEO/founder of PearlTrans Logistics, a full-service transportation provider offering customized solutions in Southern California.

Tags: NAWBO, Women in Business

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Lorena Camargo, NAWBO Member

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