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Life & Work with Vanessa Salgueiro

Today we’d like to introduce you to Vanessa Salgueiro.

Hi Vanessa, so excited to have you on the platform. So before we get into questions about your work-life, maybe you can bring our readers up to speed on your story and how you got to where you are today?
I was born and raised in Brazil and moved with my family (husband and two kids) to Playa Vista, Los Angeles in 2016.

I have been working in the gaming industry, more specifically doing marketing campaigns and public relations for gaming companies that want to expand their operations and be more relevant in Latin America. Last year, when the pandemic hit, I lost one of my main clients. At the time, kids were already full-time home (schools were closed) and I was feeling extremely anxious and stressed. The situation made me get off my comfort zone and think about what I could do to keep my mind at ease, connect with other women, and also earn an extra income.

The first thing that came to my mind is that Brazil is well known for exporting premium, performance fabrics all over the world. So I thought, why not? To start off, I imported a few units of Brazilian bikinis to sell to my close friends and see how it would go. To my surprise, the items sold fast enough which made me place a second order. Since it was already late July and bikinis were not something that sells all year long, I immediately started sourcing other items and came with the idea of bringing athleisurewear. After all, women generally wear leggings every day, whether they are going for a yoga session, workout at a gym, grocery shopping, or lounging home.

The first athleisure styles came in a few weeks later, and it was a success. Just like the bikinis, my first customers were my close friends and then friends of friends. What I did differently from other brands though, was focus on what I call “Try-On” bag, something very common in Brazil. Here’s how it works: let’s say you are interested in buying some items but are not sure about the fit. I will ask you some questions such as size, preferences, if there is something you absolutely dislike, and based on that, select a few items to send for you to try. On the next day I will pick up the “Try-On” bag and you will only pay for what you want to keep, if anything. The “Try-On” bag service was always free and although only available to people that live within a 3-mile radius from Playa Vista, it was surely what made my business take off. In a time where nobody was getting out of their homes to shop, the convenience combined with the variety, fabrics, fit – and impulse surely made a difference.

In February 2021 I finally launched my online store, and since then, the business has been growing considerably each month with orders being placed from everywhere in the US – as of now, I have already shipped to over 13 states!

I’ve been participating in several events at local gyms and street fairs, and this has also been very helpful to reach audiences I wouldn’t have access otherwise.

Alright, so let’s dig a little deeper into the story – has it been an easy path overall and if not, what were the challenges you’ve had to overcome?
Owing a business has ups and downs. I’d say in the same day, I go from super optimistic to re-thinking if I am on the right path. It’s a 24/7 work and sometimes can get mentally exhausting. My main challenge in the beginning was finding suppliers that were aligned with my values. Then, moving forward, choosing the right collections and estimating how much inventory to bring. And right now, my biggest challenge is to find ways to continue growing each month, bringing new customers, and creating content on social media.

Can you tell our readers more about what you do and what you think sets you apart from others?
I know there are thousands of brands out there, but when it comes to high-tech, high-end fabrics, the list surely narrows down and the price is not attractive to everyone. So one of my main concerns since the very beginning was differentiating myself through quality, price, and customer service. My goal was that more people could have access to quality, long lasting items and personalized service.
I believe in buying fewer items that are stylish, comfortable, and durable and I am very picky when choosing new collections. Everything I sell is thoughtfully sourced, with no mass production, and I am very proud to support small women-owned business in my home country!

What sort of changes are you expecting over the next 5-10 years?
The industry I am in is growing exponentially each year. Brands that weren’t looking into athleisure entered this market and I believe this is just the beginning. People are generally more and more conscious about what they wear, and are looking for items that make them look stylish, feel comfortable, and are sustainable at the same time.

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