EDINBURG - Dalia Almanza-Smith, a native of Mercedes and a pioneering entrepreneur in the advertising industry, addressed more than 100 UTPA students Tuesday (April 20) in the Business Administration Building, sharing her life experiences as well as offering business advice to future entrepreneurs.
"I always thought successful people had something I didn't have," Almanza-Smith said. "I decided to take the initiative and go out and talk to these folks and find out what it really takes to be successful."
Almanza-Smith is considered by many a pioneer in the advertising industry with her introduction of "free postcards" as an advertising medium in the United States.
She established her free postcard industry on her return from a two-month honeymoon in Europe in 1994, where free postcards are an established medium. Today, the free postcard business has blossomed into a $12-15 million industry.
"Things don't happen over night," Smith said. "You have to work hard, but in the end when the returns come back, you feel great."
Almanza-Smith explained to the audience, "In order to become successful in anything, you have to know what you want, put together a plan and then take action. You must be passionate about what you want to do and really believe in yourself."
"She is a good example of what a person can do once they put their mind to it," said Rosie Falcon, career day coordinator for the UTPA College of Business Administration. "Because Dalia is from the Valley, our students can relate to her and learn from her life experiences."
Almanza-Smith was recently profiled in the New York Times and her business, HotStamp Free Postcards (Philadelphia, Washington, Atlanta, and Boston markets), formerly known as GoCard Free Postcards, has been featured in the Washington Post, the Boston Sun and Latina Style Magazine.
She has also been featured on television shows that feature entrepreneurs and she received the 1998 Business Award from HISPANIC Magazine as part of their Latina Excellence Awards Program.
Her Clients include Volkswagen, L'OREAL, Miller Brewing Company, Biore, National Geographic, Heineken USA, Kobrand, Fortune Magazine, People Magazine, The National Fluid Milk Promotion Board, and IOMEGA.
Almanza-Smith is a graduate of Michigan State University, where she majored in advertising. She has sat on a number of boards, including the America Australia Association and the Washington D.C. YMCA, and is a member of the Fairfax (Va.) Chamber of Commerce.
She also volunteers her time as mentor for disadvantaged, inner-city youths in the Washington, D.C. area.