Posted on June 26, 2017 by Alanna Hinds
I am the proud daughter of Mexican immigrants who began their lives in the United States in 1963 as field workers equipped with determination, courage and the desire to provide a better life for their family. In order to help support this dream, I worked in the fields picking produce in Bakersfield alongside my family. At the time, I did not realize the great impact bending on our knees and working in dirt with my parents had on me.
My father was always sure we were the first ones in the fields and the last ones to leave this developed a sense of work ethic and goal setting. As I worked cutting roots, the strong smell of onions would fill the air and burn my eyes, though regardless of the working conditions we had to get the job done. Especially when working in the extreme heat; those 115 degree days led to the images of my mother faced with nose bleed. She would pull out a handkerchief from her back pocket, tilt her head back, apply pressure, roll up her sleeves and continue to work. No matter what, we were taught to persevere and to suck up any personal issues because giving up was never an option. There had came a point when we were homeless and slept in the trunk of our family car. Despite the odds stacked against us, we never gave up. It is the determination engraved into our family values that drove me through the years and enabled me to land an entry level supervisor position at Costco.
I have been a production manager at Costco for the past 22 years, dating back to my first position as the supervisor of the bakery department at the age of 28. I’ve been fortunate to earn multiple positions throughout my Costco career, I have held various positions such as: quality control manager, production manager, and one that I am particularly proud of the assistant general manager of CWI packaging. It was there that I was the first woman who has ever acquired that position. Thanks to our Costco Philosophy programs, like our Costco Journey, I to have been fortunate to have had multiple mentors. In Costco we understand that 80% of our time is spent in teaching, coaching and developing others which I find great fulfillment because I enjoy interacting with people at a personal and professional level. From Costco’s training and on-the-job experience, I have become result-oriented and excel in boosting productivity, cutting cost, and fostering efficiency in a manufacturing setting. I have also proven my ability to work creatively and analytically in problem solving and negotiating, relying on those 22 years of learning. It is through these experiences that influenced the person I am today and helped provide me with the necessary skills for success as an inventor and entrepreneur.
I am Frances Prado: Mother, Costco Production Manager, Inventor, Entrepreneur, Breast Cancer Advocate, Speaker, and Mentor.
“First, I focused my attention on my bedroom, and once I opened a drawer that was it. My “Aha” Moment.” – Frances Prado
My journey as an inventor first started in 2009, a time in which the product of my responsibilities as a mother reached one of its highest points. Both of my children were now adults and have begun to build their own futures separate from me and my husband and the home we’ve built. My son, Leo, was in Afghanistan and my daughter, Ashley, was off to college; although I was proud of the accomplishments of my children and the promise each of their paths held, our house was bare and their absence unmistakeable. It was not long until empty nest syndrome kicked in. I was restless, but determined to work my way through it. I specifically remember asking myself, “Frances, what are you going to do with all this extra time on your hands? Girl, you better start cleaning and organizing around you!” It was not my permanent solution I knew that although it was a good start.
First, I focused my attention on my bedroom, and once I opened a drawer that was it. My “Aha” Moment.
What does every woman wear and need? Bras and panties and something to organize as well as protect them. Beautiful intimate apparel, meant to provide luxury and empower women, is too often moved from the delicate pink bags they come in and shoved into a drawer only to be forgotten and eventually damaged. What if there was a product that could protect the integrity of the elegant apparel that women pay so much for, while at the same time display their stunning designs in a convenient and practical fashion. I took my idea to the drawing board and started to translate my vision onto paper. After a few hand made prototypes I was able to come up with Hanging Secrets. In fact my daughter, Ashley, who was 22 years old at the time created the Hanging Secrets logo.
Four years later, I was issued my patent.
“Only 7% [of patents] are issued to sole female inventors in the United States and only 0.3% of those sole inventors are Latinas” – Frances Prado
I knew not every idea submitted to the patent office is granted one, so I was very excited to know that mine was one of the few that do. After some research I found out the statistics behind the issue of patents; only 7% are issued to sole female inventors in the United States and only 0.3% of those sole inventors are Latinas. Additionally, women who own patents are less likely to be commercialized.
I was amazed by the statistics and believed this percentage symbolized an elite group and I was quite humbled by it. Then it fully dawned on me, the great imbalance in gender of inventors and Latina ones for that matter was disappointing. Those women, including myself, should move to help and encourage other women and young girls to become inventors as well so their innovations can contribute to the global economy just as we have been able to.
Since the patent of Hanging Secrets and the establishment of Ageless Beautiful Clever Creations in January 2015, we have always strived to give back to the community in all the work our company has done. From the very beginning I was adamant to ensure the first recipients of Hanging Secrets were breast cancer survivors because Hanging Secrets is all about our cause. We are committed to supporting organizations that assist breast cancer survivors and we donate a percentage of our sales to the Virginia Ann Scheunemann Memorial Fund, which assists low-income or uninsured women by providing free products and services.
At our product launch on September 24, 2015 we teamed up with beauticians to provide those first twelve breast cancer survivors complete makeovers. I will never forget a woman in particular who had stage 4 cancer. Seeing her really put everything in perspective for me. From her, I also realized that Hanging Secrets has the ability to accommodate these women because it can hold the breast prosthetics and arm selves that breast cancer survivors commonly use.
“You just need to embrace what comes your way and move forward”
– Frances Prado
Maintaining life and work balance is challenging; it requires constant pivoting and adjusting to daily situations and events going on at home or at work.
I’ve learned everything doesn’t have to be perfect; some days are going to be harder than others and you just need to embrace what comes your way and move forward, but keeping my family as the number one priority makes me happy and brings me inner peace.
Time is the most valuable thing we have so I manage my time in the most productive and positive manner possible.
“Believing in oneself is the most powerful skill we can have” – Frances Prado
I don’t think women are intimidated in business. I think it may be more about self-doubt.
Us women are provided very valuable, inherent skills needed in private business and corporate sectors such as compassion, leadership, time management, communication and organizational skills. By focusing on our strengths we can overcome any self-doubt and will, in turn, contribute more and have a greater positive impact in our businesses, careers, and life in general. Believing in oneself is the most powerful skill we can have.
“At the end of the day we are all women who want to have successful businesses” – Frances Prado
I may have more things in common with minority women off the bat; however, I adjust myself to whom I am interacting or working with at the time.
It’s imperative to always be respectful to ensure the person you’re interacting with feels comfortable and valued because despite any reservations you may have about a person, at the end of the day we are all women who want to have successful businesses.
That maybe we get to dressed up or too glamorous for an event…
Which I consider a strength!
Self presentation is key. When you look good, you feel better and you do better.
I was fortunate enough to be blessed with amazing family, close friends, and peers who offered their support for my new business venture right away.
Dr. Melinda Silva M.D., my business partner, is one particular individual that believed in me and Hanging Secrets so much so that she invested her money into it. She’s my Angel investor.
Also, joining the Hera Hub and participating in Hera Labs helped really propel my work as it’s a network and community of like-minded, ambitious, female entrepreneurs. The business resources are plentiful and the friendships created are genuine. It’s actually something I’d recommend women entrepreneurs and business professionals do, especially if they’re located in San Diego.