Chalorna Freitas better known as “Charly ” co-owns and operates the Guam Medical Pharmacy with skills knowledge and talent inspired by her mother. “When I think of a word to describe my mom many come to mind: intelligent beautiful kind protector advisor someone to look up to. She was my strength my foundation and my best friend. She had such great business savvy that she made running a business seem effortless ” Charly Freitas said.

Lorna Freitas arrived on Guam in the 1960s from the Philippines where she obtained her pharmacy degree. She worked at a couple of pharmacies on-island before she opened her own pharmacy in 1978 — Asan Pharmacy. Charly Freitas was only 7 years old when she first learned the operational side of running a pharmacy and became an assistant manager while she was still in high school. It was during her college summer breaks that she learned the pharmacy side of the industry with one-on-one training with her mother. “I remember my mom saying that customer service is the key to running a successful business ” Charly Freitas said.

Charly Freitas knew early on in her life that she would go to college and eventually do something great with her life. “My mom instilled in us at a very young age that education was important. I can’t even remember how old I was when I decided to go to college I just knew. I remember my mom saying to me that education is the best gift you can give yourself.” By the time Charly graduated Lorna and her husband Charles had put four daughters through college — Cathy majored in pharmacy Sisa majored in commerce Dolly majored in economics and Charly majored in marketing.

Charly Freitas graduated in 1993 with a bachelor’s in marketing from Seattle University. She opened and co-owned an advertising company in 1996. Then in 2001 her mom opened her second pharmacy in Upper Tumon. It was then that Charly decided to resign from the advertising industry to help manage Guam Medical Pharmacy. “It was one of the best decisions I had ever made. The medical industry proved to be very rewarding.”

In August 2002 Lorna Freitas passed away suddenly. Charly and her family were devastated as Lorna’s passing was not expected. She was a vibrant and energetic woman. Charly and her sisters were then faced with making the decision of what to do with the pharmacy. “Since my sisters live off-island the ultimate decision of keeping the pharmacy opened rested on my shoulders.” Charly had a difficult year dealing with the loss of her mother and the next couple of years proved to be trying. According to Charly “There were many obstacles that I faced and without proper training and most importantly my mother’s strength and family support I would not have been able to overcome them.”

Last year Charly decided to take another step and seek assistance from the Citibank Women in Business Program at the Guam Small Business Development Center. “The Small Business Development Center is an amazing program that helps business owners or those who would like to start a small business prepare the crucial paperwork needed to obtain a loan. The Citibank Women in Business program offers great guidance and support to the women in business. With the great guidance from Marie Mesa-Kerlin [the former director of WIB] the SBDC program and Felicita Diaz [loan officer at Bank of Hawaii] I was able to obtain a business loan from Bank of Hawaii.”

Today Guam Medical Pharmacy is located at the East-West Business Center. It is bustling with customers and has a team of two full-time two part-time and seven on-call staff. Who would have thought that this former Miss Guam World 2000 Young Entrepreneur of the Year and former advertising agency co-owner and marketing major would be running a small family-owned pharmacy business? “At some point there was clarity … my mother’s legacy and this family business became important to me. I can’t explain or even list exactly what happened but it was like everything my mother taught me came into play — from stocking inventory staffing budgeting daily operations accounting and of course customer service. It was almost as if I’ve been doing this all my life. Then I realized I have been. It is amazing how influential a mother can be.”

For more information about the Citibank Women in Business Program contact Denise Mendiola at 735-2590 x114 or [email protected]. Web site www.pacificsbdc.com. Mendiola is director of the Citibank Women in Business Program.