Valentina Ambrogio — professional English to Italian Translator, Localiser and Subtitler

The Unique Pro Serie ft. Ana Lourenço of Blossom Translations

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The Unique Pro Serie ft. Ana Lourenço of Blossom Translations

Posted by Valentina Ambrogio in Interviews, The Unique Pro Series 10 Feb 2016

This month’s guest doesn’t need a very long introduction. Her story is very touching and empowering at the same time, and I am sure you won’t regret reading it. Enjoy!

Hi, Ana. You have told me your story and I have to say that my jaw dropped many times for not only the hard times you endured but also because you fought with teeth and nails to take your life back under your control. Would you please briefly share your back-story with us?

In 1998 I suffered a terrible accident that took every human necessity and capability one can have. I had a near death experience.

I returned to a full dependant human being as if I was a 1 month baby. The difference was that I had a “burned” brain. My brain got deeply damaged and the doctors even told my parents that I wouldn’t be the same person again.

The doctors were right, I am not the same person after having suffered from a Carbon Monoxide intoxication and being in a coma state for 11 days.

I almost died and my dear friend Inês died immediately. Inês was a friend of mine who decided to take a shower at the same time as I did after a full day playing at a Summer Camp organized by some friend’s family “friends”. Because the gas water heater was installed inside the bathroom where we would be taking our end of day showers and we had been the last ones to get to the shower, we got intoxicated. At that time water heaters where already forbidden inside bathrooms and toilettes but the dumb, irresponsible and greedy summer camp “organizers” did not think about that. This got into court and I won the trial eleven years after the accident. Nobody can erase Ines’s death from my head as nobody can erase the huge trauma this still represents in my life. After the accident, my learning abilities got to 20% and I had to give up on learning maths and physics because none of those logical thinking subjects would get into my head. My parents got so desperate that after “finishing” the elementary school in Lisbon I moved to an aunt’s house in a village near Coimbra, here in Portugal.

I lived there for 6 years and I finished high school in a different way. I mean, the school there gave me the opportunity to make adapted exams and allowed me split the school years in two. So instead of doing high school in 3 years, I’ve done it in 6. As a proof of my special needs, the Portuguese educational system demanded psychological tests as a proof of my special needs. This would give a new whole existential story but you wouldn’t have space, nor time to include everything in your website. But this is not everything.

Because the school programs had to be adapted to my special education necessities, when I finished high school in Lousa (the name of the village near Coimbra where I lived), I was not allowed to apply to university nor I thought I would be capable of finishing a university course.

Because I do not easily accept a no as an answer, when I came back to Lisbon I started doing language summer courses and I’ve done 2 in London, 2 in Edinburg, 1 in Dublin and 1 in Nice.

After doing those summer courses and meeting people from all over the world I decided that knowing languages was not enough and decided to apply to university to a Translation BA.

I’ve done the one exam I had to do and the subjects I had to finish to be allowed to enter university. I then got in a private university, finished the first year and requested a transfer to a public University here in Lisbon. Finished everything on time and started working at my family business enterprise.

In the meantime, after coming back to Lisbon I started attending Psychotherapy sessions every week from then on. This was THE BEST decision I could ever have taken because the trauma will not ever leave my mind and 18 exact years after the accident, some memories of the place where it all happened are coming back. What I considered myself after some years of Freudian sessions was that I am a phenomena of nature, an example of survival techniques adapter, willpower, determination and everything you can imagine.

I am also sure that most of the mistakes I committed as a professional so far, in my 3 years career where caused by insecurity, and for not thinking as much as I should before potential clients reaching. I felt that after so many “lost” years I had to gain everything back in speed.

I’ll have to calm down a little because the 2g Valerian root pills I’m taking now will not be enough.

One thing I’d like to underline is that I have always refused to take psychiatric pills, so I’m now attending yoga classes, attending my weekly psychotherapy sessions and taking the already referred valerian root pills.

Your brand name is Blossom Translations and maybe not everybody knows that your area of specialisation is fresh produce. How did you end up working in this niche field?

My specialization idea came out while working in my first project ever. After having realised about what were specializations all about I fell out of my chair. This may have happened because I wouldn’t have realised up until that moment that with 1 year of professional experience I was already specialized in a very specific market niche. My translation world would be focused on the Fresh Produce Market, meaning everything related to product marketing, fruit & vegetable packaging and fruit & vegetable wholesalers.

This idea came out after having been was invited by my family business marketing department to produce the enterprise website contents in September 2012. I’ve done the content research, I’ve selected the best information to include and because there was no information on such exotic products traded by my family business in Portuguese, I had to translate everything from English into Portuguese, then edit, re-edit and re-re edit.  I was even told to translate the contents back to English and Spanish which I accepted. I shouldn’t’ve probably because we all know we should all translate into our mother tongues but I accepted the challenge. All the contents took 2 years to be ready. This included the research, content selection, and content translation into Portuguese and into English and Spanish back again. I also did the edition and revision part.  The website is now online in Portuguese. The translated content was then re-edited by my brother who works at the marketing department and published by me on the enterprise website server. I even did most of the fruit Photoshop work.

Since the marketing department wanted the website translated into English and Spanish, I accepted the challenge and I translated the contents I had produced in Portuguese back into English and Spanish. The website is online in Portuguese since December 2013. My brother, who became my PM got in charge of editing the English and Spanish contents but he didn’t so far due to lack of time. Buying selling fruit on a wholesale basis is not an easy task, I assure you, the supermarket big chains can be a pain in the ass.

Networking seems to come very naturally to you. You created a network of colleagues on which your clients can rely. You’re also the organiser of Let’s do Translators Tea Time. Can you explain what networking means to you and why you decided to set up these meetings for translators?

In February 2015 I attended my first speciality worldwide fair-trade which is held every year in Berlin. From the dozens of people I spoke to at that fair-trade, after all the follow ups, I got one client. Not bad, one client on my first fair trade… But I wanted more. Some months after the fair-trade, I finished my first project into Portuguese for this client.

It was that same client that started asking for translation in languages I did not work with. That was when I started outsourcing. Some more ideas came to my mind after committing some mistakes and those ideas would be the basis of what I’m doing today, at this precise moment, which is to get new clients for my business.

Because “outsourcing” seemed an “out” word I decided to pull in my Business School For Translators colleagues and I gathered a team of 20 translators that accepted to cooperate in what I just called “The Fruit and Vegetable Translation Revolution” last October 2015.  I mean revolution because through what I’ve heard at the fair-trades, people are not aware that translation is done by professionals or if they are, they contact agencies to do the jobs. So I’m having this double role of “educating” my future clients and of convincing them that we BSFT Schoolers are the best.

After having gathered all the team members, who kindly accepted to work with me, I got to offer their services for the first time at my second fruit /gourmet food fair-trade here in Lisbon in November 2015. I was not expecting to go to this one but papa here gave me the invitations and I couldn’t say no.  I got two follow-up positive answers. They said that I would be considered in case of translation needs. No real result but my name is out there already.

Apart from this and going back to my family business, I decided to email a few of our many foreign suppliers to know if they needed translation services in all the 25 language pairs I was offering. None came back to me, I mean not a single answer. I tried to call them and came to the conclusion that some work with agencies, others think they don´t need translators and others did not even answer, yet.  Anyway, I know that my name is out there already.

Now about Let’s do Translators Tea Time.

In January 2015 I had this fantastic idea of creating an event for translators here in Lisbon, which I called Let´s do Translators Tea Time. This event was created to respond to the lack of socializing almost all freelance translators feel not only in Lisbon but all over the world. Since I live in Lisbon, the sunny capital of Portugal was my choice to every edition I would be organizing. Due to the great success of all the editions, word of mouth started to work and I got invited to be part of the Events Department of the recently created APTRAD (a Portuguese translators association). The eleventh edition of the Tea Time was in January 2016.

What makes Blossom Translations unique in your opinion?

Now that’s a difficult question. The trademark is unique in Portugal and I can prove you trough providing the list of the Portuguese registered trademarks. Kidding.  Mainly what makes Blossom Translations unique is my special care and love for the F&V wholesale business, plus all this dedication and perseverance that I always carried in my life. I did not make any specific research on the matter but I am most probably the only person on the planet in this situation and this is the real uniqueness.

Do you reckon your clients, project managers and colleagues can perceive the real Ana by following you on social media?

I never thought about that but yes, I’m very straightforward in every social media I participate in, professional and personal.

I “act” as myself. The message I pass on is of a calm, reserved yet very busy person. I post my favourite music themes once in a while, I post some photos to catch translator’s attention for the next tea time. I post photos of the last cultural event I participated in, etc.

The only social media I’m using for personal purposes is Facebook. Twitter and Instagram are being used for Blossom Translations marketing purposes. I also use LinkedIn, of course.

I like that on social media you are very straightforward and friendly. Do you agree with the idea of showing your true colours and being yourself as a marketing tool? Do you think it is ultimately a game-changing factor, or do you find irrelevant?

Yes, this is a game-changing factor. I act as myself in every platform I’m at. Since I have an unimaginable love for life and willpower, I apply those to real life, personal, professional and online.

And now, just some simple yes-no questions:
Do you feel professionally unique?
Are you happy with your life/job balance right now?
Since both are under construction, no, not yet.
Is there anything you would like to do or plan to do to shine more? Yes, my new website is under construction and for the first time I will be having marketing brochures.


BIO-BlossomBio: Ana Lourenço is a specialized freelance translator and she started blossoming in 2012.  She specializes in marketing and business for the fresh produce wholesaling market. In 2012 she graduated in Translation at Universidade Nova de Lisboa, Faculdade de Ciências Sociais Humanas. She has been working as a Translation Project Manager for Blossom Translations® since May 2015. She has also been working at the event and communication department of APTRAD of which she is a member since 2015. Ana is currently working on her Blossom project that involves translation project managing. She is now preparing her next international Fairtrade. Ana lives in Lisbon, Portugal.
Blog: Under construction
Book(s) you are currently reading: Vivemos em Palácios of Suzana Mendes – Feng Shui Specialist
Book(s) you recommend: The Power of Now – Echart Tolle,  A New World – Echart Tolle – 1984, George Orwell
In my spare time I like to: Relax, watch a beautiful sunset, watch zombie movies “The Night of the Creeps” Directed by Fred Dekker or the “Evil dead” directed by Sam Raimi in 1981 and 2013, are two of my favourites. I just started watching “The Walking Dead” tv series.
Share a song: Lust for Life, Iggy Pop.


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