When you meet Isabelle Villaseñor, the first thing you notice is her sincere smile – an accurate reflection of her personality.
“My work philosophy is based on honesty and sincerity. I cannot stand lies, because they break one’s trust and destroy relationships,” said Isabelle, founder of Dejon Enterprises Inc. – she is well-known in the business world for being the first Latina to obtain a McDonald’s franchise, in 1981.
Since then she has acquired eight other restaurants from that chain, including two in the John Wayne airport, in Orange County, which she runs with the help of her two daughters and sons-in-law.
In her opinion the root of her success in her business, which has 400 employees, is that she has been involved in all aspects of her company, from the operating process, to sales and customer service. The most important thing to Isabelle is always the customers and the employees.
In addition to being a renowned businesswoman, Isabelle dedicates a great deal of her time to helping the less fortunate. She is involved in various philanthropic organizations, one of which is the Ronald McDonald House Charities, which
focuses in offering assistance to low-income families and offers scholarships to students who need financial support to continue their studies.
Recently, Isabelle was recognized, along with 11 other women, for her leadership in helping the community in the Girl Scouts organization in Orange County.
Isabelle is sure that this recognition is of special importance as it brings up great memories of her own childhood, as she was involved in the organization.
“I started in the Girl Scouts when I was 7 years old and it was the experience that changed my life in a very positive way because I was an only child. I had the opportunity there to meet other girls of different cultures and learn a lot of practical things like how to paint, fix things around the house and even sell cookies. All of that gave me confidence in myself and that is why I also got my children involved when they were of similar age,” she remembers.
The businesswoman began her career in running restaurants when she got married, since her husband had three McDonald’s franchises. As they divorced in 1981, Isabelle obtained a franchise on her own and was able to progress with the help of her parents, and subsequently, her children, Lisa and Jenny, who since they were very little were also interested in helping their mother manage the restaurants.
Although the economic crisis has seriously affected the restaurant industry, Isabelle said that McDonald’s has benefited the most because of their low prices and because people are confident in the quality of their products and the services they offer.