Teresa Arredondo is the power behind ArtCraft Paint, Inc. of Santa Maria | Local News

The story of Teresa Arredondo is neither glamorous nor sparkling. She was not born to wealthy parents and has no famous parents. Her father was murdered when she was 5 and she only finished primary school.

She came to the United States when she was 15, worked as a farmhand, suffered from sexism throughout her life and was nearly killed in a domestic violence attack, she said.

But in July, more than 650,000 people cheered on his unique and groundbreaking work, presented in the evening with pyrotechnics and theatrical music, during the first night show at EAA AirVenture Oshkosh, Wisconsin, the largest airshow in the world.

The artwork was an airplane with glowing blue leading edges resembling a spaceship, painted by ArtCraft Paint, Inc., of Santa Maria, the company owned by Arredondo.

Arredondo is a 60 year old girl from Aguililla, Michoacan, Mexico. The pilot who launched the world’s first Lumilor aircraft is Kyle Fowler, a Canadian air show performer with Go EZ Aerobatics.

Lumilor is an electroluminescent lighting system available in paint or vinyl that can illuminate any product without changing its form or function, according to Skies Magazine, which noted “ArtCraft Paint Inc. has done a terrific job on Kyle’s EZ.”

But Arredondo’s success has not been easy.

She is the daughter of a culture of effort and survival that has been working since the age of seven. His mother let her 10 children work in this country; she returned 10 years later with their visas.

It was only the continuation of a life of misery. Arredondo remembered every fruit or vegetable produced on the central coast, earning a maximum of $19,000 a year. In her first year as a business owner, she said she made over $300,000.

“And pretty soon, when nobody noticed, I was already making millions,” she said.

In 1989, Arredondo began working on aircraft upholstery, but she had to work as an apprentice to her husband. She didn’t get the job herself because she was a woman.

In 1990, she bought half of the company. A year later, the other half. She paid $750 for the interior upholstery business. In 1993, she purchased the paint business for $150,000. Then, in 1997, after 16 years of marriage and three children, she divorced her husband who she says tried to strangle her with an electric wire.

Arredondo kept the business as sole proprietor, negotiating with her ex-husband not to pay child support for three years. At the time, she was a full-time mother and managed 20 employees while speaking limited English.

“I felt lost. But at age 7, I learned an ingrained work ethic and dedication. Earning my daily bread decently is my most powerful tool that I have used to be able to organize myself, raise my children and focus on a prestigious business,” she said.

Arredondo explained that one of his most painful experiences was when the owner of a business in Porterville told him he would never do business with a woman.

“I felt devastated. It was as if he had slapped me. For eight years I focused and worked in the shed with the boys, and learned the whole process. I worked daily to learn the art of airplanes, how they removed interiors and how to restore an airplane,” she said.

And in 2005, she started attending shows and events with the confidence in the job and the knowledge she had gained.

“I am a very good salesperson. I appreciate it so much. And when I focus, I can sell anybody a bag of sand in the desert or a bag of ice in the Arctic,” she said.

ArtCraft paints, upholsters and restores almost any type of airplane or helicopter. The largest aircraft the company has worked with is the Global Express, which seats about 100 passengers.

The company paints between 15 and 20 planes a month and more than 100 a year, according to Arredondo, who said 80% of the planes come from outside the United States, particularly from the Middle East, Argentina, from Guatemala, Portugal, Russia, Italy, Mexico, Canada, as well as many American states

Arredondo said that although she doesn’t have much of an education, she has a “doctorate in common sense.” And this is only acquired with the blows that life deals, the setbacks, and the barriers that are imposed on you. But I had great confidence that God would never leave me.

Arredondo is an active member of the community. She attributes her philanthropy to her childhood struggle. She smiles and her piercing blue eyes water when she talks about her mom.

“She taught me determination and focus. My children Esmeralda, Arturo and Alejandro have been my reason to thrive. That’s why if someone closes the door in my face, I manage to get in through the window,” she said.

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