McAllen honors three legendary businesswomen at luncheon

Three business women, left to right, Delia Lubin, Deanna Cochran and Dora Jean Sanchez are recognized McAllen Chamber Women Luncheon at the Raddison Hotel on Thursday, Jan. 23, 2020, in McAllen. (Joel Martinez | jmartinez@themonitor.com)

McALLEN — People who know her are well aware that Dora Jean Sanchez doesn’t doubt herself.

Sanchez, of De Sanchez Day Spa & Salon, explained as much Thursday during the All About Women Committee’s Legendary Businesswomen Luncheon at the Radisson Hotel in McAllen, where the McAllen Chamber of Commerce gave voice to three businesswomen and their journey toward becoming industry leaders in their communities.

Her quick-witted response received a roar of laughter and applause which set the tone for the event.

Prominent business people gathered for the luncheon to honor Sanchez, Deanna Cochran, who created Gloria Jean’s Coffee and now owns Coffee Zone, as well as Delia Lubin of Delia’s Tamales. Naxiely Lopez-Puente of The Monitor moderated the discussion.

The Radisson’s meeting room was filled to the brim with individuals seeking to celebrate and network with other businesspeople, their voices echoing down into the lobby area of the hotel.

Tables were decorated with a long centerpiece with smaller royal and baby blue balloons circling a larger, reflective chrome balloon at the top. The rest of the room was decorated with blue balloons that matched the blue and white table cloths that draped over tables.

Gerry Garcia of the chamber opened the event with a quick introduction, mentioning times she had come across the three honorees’ businesses before they grew in popularity, with the exception of Lubin, as her humble beginnings started from selling tamales out of a cooler in the trunk of a vehicle.

In addition, Garcia illustrated statistics such as the percentage of women-owned firms growing between 2007 and 2016, which increased by 45%, and that the percentage of female entrepreneurs increased by 114% in the last 20 years. Female empowerment was the main theme of the event.

Asked whether she’s ever had moments of self doubt and how she overcame them, Sanchez said: “I have people here who can attest to that. When we made our switch from Salon 1306 to De Sanchez Day Spa, I mean we went from a 1,200-square-foot to 4,000-square-foot (location), and people would ask us, ‘Are you sure? Are you sure the Valley is ready?’ We’re like, ‘Yeah, they’re all going to Vegas!’”

The venue again erupted in laughter.

To the same question, Cochran shared a different experience than Sanchez, admitting to some doubt to the audience’s humor.

“I’m a person who does a lot better if I can write something down,” Cochran said. “So it’s just that simple for me, if I’m worried about something. A long time ago, somebody taught me what we called a story boarding technique, where you write down the good things, you write down the bad things, and somehow or other something comes out ahead.”

On building a business, Lubin said it’s important to identify and commit to an idea.

“The first path someone must take is to know exactly what they want,” Lubin said in Spanish. “But before anything, think that God will help you make it happen. Know what you want, be consistent because that’s very important, to have the determination to keep moving forward. There will be people who will say you can’t but if you want it, you can get it.”

At the end of the panel, the attendees were given the opportunity to ask the honorees’ questions. Many women jumped at the opportunity, but one high school teacher didn’t ask a question but rather a favor of the businesswomen: to never stop telling their story.

Cochran, Sanchez and Lubin were all awarded with plaques presented by the chamber as the event closed.