For our initial apparel collection, we’ve partnered with a family-run business in Peru, founded by a powerful woman named Cecilia, who didn’t even mean to start a clothing company. She started hiring women who needed jobs to help her around the house and training them how to sew. Pretty soon she found herself in the textile business and officially founded the company with her daughters! They continue to prioritize jobs for women, with many in leadership positions. Each of our apparel pieces are named in honor of women who work with this partner.
Read more of the story through an interview with one of Cecilia’s daughters...
When did your business begin + how did that come about?
The business was founded by my mother, Cecilia, in 1990. How did my mother, a lady whose aspirations when she finished school in the 60’s were just to marry and have a nice family, end up founding one of the most successful textile companies in Peru? The story starts in the late 60’s, when my mother and my father got married and moved to the north of the country to a very big ranch owned by my grand parents. My father was an agricultural engineer and my mother was the perfect housewife of the ranch. Things were going fine until the early 70s, when the socialist military government expropriated the ranch and gave the land to the workers so my parents had to come back to Lima. After years, the ranch was not producing anymore due to the lack of technical knowledge and former workers came to Lima looking for jobs. My mother began hiring the workers wives. One lady as our nanny, another to help her in the house, and by the time the third and fourth lady arrived, she hired them and taught them how to sew. At that time my mother belonged to the Peruvian Badminton Team so she began sewing badminton clothing and selling it at the club where she trained. After her success in selling the badminton clothing she continued in the textile business, and in 1990 she finally founded her company with us, her daughters. We still have the second generation of people from the Ranch.
Tell us what it’s like to be working with your sisters?
A lot of people ask that question because there are a lot of cases where it is very difficult working with family, but for us, it has always been very easy. There are three of us: Cecilia, Patricia and Veronica. There are just 2 1/2 years between the three of us, so we were raised like triplets. We had the same group of friends and were very close to each other. I remember there were times when we came home after a party and we would stay up talking until the sun came out! We went to the same university and the three of us studied business.
When we finished university, Cecilia came to work with my mom in the Commercial Department, I worked in Investment Banking, and Veronica was working for another big textile company in the Development.
As our business began to grow though, Veronica joined my mother’s team in 1999, and she helped me implement the development area as the company began to grow more and I joined the team in 2001. My mom was very happy to have her three daughters working with her. In 2010 my mom passed away and I became CEO at that time. Years later, Veronica took the CEO position. The strategic decisions of the company are taken as a team though, and each one of us has authority in our area of expertise. This doesn’t mean that we always agree, sometimes we have different opinions but when a decision is taken, sometimes voting (lucky we are three), everyone supports that decision taken and nobody would imagine we had disagreed previously.
The three of us work in the same office, and the only downside is that sometimes we talk too much! Not much has changed since being the three little sisters that stayed late at night talking about a party. We plan trips together and talk about our families. When there is an opportunity, we travel just the three of us! We are aware that we are very lucky to have been raised in our magical family, and we express it frequently in our daily conversations. We love each other!
What does an average day look like in each of your roles?
The three of us have the same vision of what we want of the company: we don’t want to grow and become a big company if that means working more and reducing family time. We have the idea that balance working and family time is the key to success. But we still want to be the best at what we do, in our own size! So the working time we have is used wisely.
In an average day we arrive and have a coffee together, in our office, talk a lot about our future plans or some specific problems. Then Ceci is probably meeting with some clients or with the people in production or textile to give some outlines of how to manage production. Veronica is talking to the team, organizing some committees, evaluating new projects and implementing them, and I do the financial analysis for every shipment, looking at our results, sharing them with the management team, evaluating the deviations from the plans and eventually I have to meet with some banks!
Explain what makes your business a better place for women to work?
This is a better place to work for women because we are women. We are daughters, we are mothers (each of us has 3 kids) and we know what it means to work and have a family. We think it is very important for the mothers to be present for their kids so we are very flexible with the vacation policy. People can take 1 or half day of vacation in case they want to be home or take their children somewhere. We also organize conferences with nutrition experts or psychologists for the women, and have a day in which all their children can come to the factory in small groups and see the place where their parents work. And at Christmas, all the kids receive a present!
What are you most proud of creating through your work?
I am proud of a lot of things, like giving jobs to so many people directly and indirectly, putting the name of Peru in the best clothing brands in the world, being recognized in the market as a very good company in a lot of aspects (quality, time deliveries, reliability, and honesty).
But what makes me the most proud is the working environment we have created here. It is like a big family here, people support each other, and that makes me so emotional. They feel home here! When there is a holiday, each area is decorated by the employees. They buy balloons and print pictures just because they feel like it. For our 25 anniversary we had a celebration but we were surprised because they hired musicians and even bought in a piñata to celebrate! There are lots of smiles around here.