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TheWIFTS FOUNDATION INTERNATIONAL VISIONARY AWARDS
DEC 1st 2012
Passion & Integrity
Commerce & Creativity
Equality Not Hierarchy


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Nancy Carter 
Elizabeth Grant Entrepreneur Award
  
 
About Nancy Carter
GM The Four Seasons Cleaners
  
In Hollywood, the term “dirty laundry” doesn’t conjure a pretty picture. Except for paparazzi, gossip mongers, professional studio and network rivals and politicians (happy—at last—to have their odor overlooked), the stains and smears of Tinseltown mean nothing but woe, disgrace, disrepute, ruination and, at minimum, an ugly dinner.

Then there’s Nancy Carter, the lady who knows how to clean it all up. Make it fresh. Leave it pretty. That’s what she’s been doing officially since 1975, when she became general manager of her family’s Four Seasons Cleaners, and unofficially since she could barely see over the counter.

As in all Hollywood tales, there’s backstory. Four Seasons Cleaners was founded in 1946 by Edmund and Paulita Lew. He was originally from Canton, China, and she, ethnically Chinese, was from Manila. The two met at the end of World War II, when Ed was in the military police, stationed in the Philippines, and loathe to leave behind Paulita, a young local lady famous for her beauty. Once married and back in southern California, the couple first owned a farm, then a Chinese restaurant in Norwalk, and finally, Four Seasons, which they opened in a building at the cross of Santa Monica Boulevard and Crescent Heights Boulevard in Los Angeles—years before that neighborhood would become West Hollywood, but only three years before the birth of their second child, Nancy.

One of five kids, Nancy always shared a special bond with her dad, or as Nancy says, “We clicked from my tot-dom.” After classes at the middle school, and later after the last bell at Fairfax High, she could be found up front and behind the scenes. Always working, often with Dad, and usually wearing a wry smile wrapped in a quick-but-compassionate wit complemented by a photographic memory: “Forgot your ticket again, Mr.-or-Mrs.-So-and-So? Doesn’t matter; I’ll have your shirts and shorts right up. Please sign here.”

It’s little wonder that Nancy took over as general manager in 1975, although she’d run the ship already for a few years. Nor is it a surprise that when her father was diagnosed with lung cancer in 1983 she took over even more responsibility, parameters that only increased upon his death in 1993. Not that Nancy has managed alone. There is her loving husband, Dr. Carter, an anthropology professor in the Cal State system; the memory of her beloved son, lost too soon; her mother, who still works nearly every day at Four Seasons; as well as her siblings.

But Nancy is the lynchpin holding it all together, from day to day operations, to the company’s many expansions, renovations (the latest just now nearing completion), even the brand new website. Nancy knows how to turn massive orders around overnight, which means she knows how to operate, and operate efficiently, on little or no sleep. She knows the art of dry cleaning, as well as the art of the possible. She knows people, the good, the bad and the dirty. She knows secrets and she knows how to be discreet.

Nancy gets the big picture, which is why she’s an integral and trusted part of it.

http://fscleaners.com




 
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TheWIFTS 2012

 

TheWIFTS Foundation
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