We had the good fortune of connecting with Vanessa Salgueiro and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Vanessa, we’d love to hear more about how you thought about starting your own business?
It was mid-2020 (and the “start” of covid), schools were closed, and I was feeling extremely anxious and stressed with so much uncertainty.
Vanessa SoCal (which will soon have a new branding!) was born without much planning. I was always into fashion and my favorite make-believe play when I was young was pretending I owned a clothing store. I used to organize all my clothes into categories, add prices, and spend long hours talking to my imaginary customers. In my teenage years, I started buying and reselling random items, and the feedback I often heard from my “customers” was that I had good taste and the right skills for selling. So when the idea came to my mind, it felt just right.
My home country Brazil is well-known for exporting high-tech fabrics to the rest of the world, so my first move was to import a few Brazilian bikinis and see how it would go. Funny thing is that when the items arrived, I literally panicked and made a list of local stores and sent them emails asking if they wanted to buy everything wholesale. I was too shy to approach people. Gladly, none of them responded to my email, and my daughter (who is 10), during one of our days by the pool, approached 2 of our neighbors and mentioned the bikinis. Both were immediately interested in it, and in that same afternoon, I sent them a few styles to try and this was pretty much how I made my very first sale. After that first push, I got more confident and sold everything within a few days.
Since it was already late July and bikinis were not something that sells all year long, I immediately started sourcing other items and came up with the idea of selling athleisure. After all, most women 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 my first customers were my close friends and then friends of friends. After months of “testing” and positive feedback from returning customers, in early 2021 I launched an online store and so far have shipped to over 15 states in the US.
Let’s talk shop? Tell us more about your brand, what sets you apart from others?
I know there are thousands of athleisure brands in the market, but when it comes to high-tech, high-end fabrics, the list 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, customer service, and price. My goal is that more people could have access to quality, long-lasting items, and personalized service. I always believed 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, limited run, with no mass production, and on top of that, I am very proud to support small women-owned businesses in my home country Brazil.
Let’s say your best friend was visiting the area and you wanted to show them the best time ever. Where would you take them? Give us a little itinerary – say it was a week long trip, where would you eat, drink, visit, hang out, etc.
That’s a hard one! For sure, I’d take my best friend on day trips to my favorite spots – Hermosa Beach, Redondo Beach, Manhattan Beach, Seal Beach, and Newport Beach. We would enjoy the sun and the sand for a few hours (kids would be running around while we talk and laugh), eat in a local restaurant, and watch the sunset. I would also suggest a short road trip to Santa Barbara, San Luis Obispo, and Paso Robles, as I simply LOVE these places. In San Luis Obispo, I highly recommend the recently renovated San Luis Creek Lodge for a night or two stay and the amazing food served at Mistura. Paso Robles is a cute winery town, with so much to do for the entire family, and I highly recommend visiting DAOU (a winery with breathtaking views), and a night stay at Allegretto Vineyard Resort.
The Shoutout series is all about recognizing that our success and where we are in life is at least somewhat thanks to the efforts, support, mentorship, love and encouragement of others. So is there someone that you want to dedicate your shoutout to?
My husband and kids have always encouraged, supported, and motivated me since day 1, as the entrepreneurial journey is very lonely and tough, full of ups and downs. I also can’t thank my friends enough, because if it wasn’t for them, I would never be where I am now. They helped and still help me by interacting with my brand on social media, by referring to their friends, and by giving their honest opinion about the colors and styles I was choosing. I also want to give credit to my suppliers in Brazil, who put a lot of love into each and every item they produce.