At the age of 19, Argentina Ortega left Sensuntepeque, El Salvador, and moved to the United States for a better life. Shuttling back and forth between El Salvador, Southern California, and Houston, she took baking classes and began earning a living working in a bakery. On the side, she sewed handmade draperies. In 2005, Argentina settled in Richmond to be with her three sons: Mario, Eduardo, and Jorge Dawson. With a small business loan, she purchased La Sabrosita Bakery, a tiny space on Holy Street. At the time, the bakery had a poor reputation with only a handful of clients. Working day and night, she turned the business around, making the deliveries herself in her little car, driving hours beyond Richmond to Fredericksburg, Williamsburg, Norfolk, and the Eastern Shore. Gradually, she built an incredible reputation and customer base. In 2009, her sons’ construction business slowed to a halt, so the four became partners and opened in a larger space on Midlothian Turnpike, where the business sits today. Her customers hail from all corners of the world, and hundreds of deliveries are made each week, stretching beyond Virginia into Washington, Maryland, and North Carolina. Argentina no longer makes deliveries herself; a small fleet of semi-trucks makes them for her.
Date of interview:
December 10, 2012