In a very real way, Dorinha has come full circle from her Brazilian roots to the creation of her own line of designer denimwear. The northeast corner of Brazil where Dorinha grew up is renowned for the rugged uniqueness of its landscape, and for its women of character; it is a place where the survival track record belongs to “cactus, goats, donkeys and strong people like me; everything else dies,” says Dorinha, tongue only partially in cheek. The youngest in a family of 16, Dorinha lost six siblings to the harsh environment of her childhood. She credits no small part of her current success to her upbringing and strong sense of family: “My roots are, emotionally, the place where I ground myself. I want to be strong for my family, for them to be proud of me.” She describes her father's farm with some pride, where cotton was among the crops he grew. “In a way my jeans will be part of that,” she says, referring to the fact her jeanswear is manufactured in Sao Paulo, from Brazilian-grown cotton.
Dorinha definitely knows the meaning of perseverance; after moving to the southeast to live with her brother in Sao Paulo, she now recalls with a smile how, while out of a job, she once “collected coins from the four corners of my house” for enough bus fare to a job interview. It was at an early sales position at a paper product company that Dorinha's interest in fashion began. “We made bags for a fashion store, and I wanted to own the store,” Dorinha says, laughing. A subsequent position as executive assistant to the Governor of Sao Paulo influenced a fledgling urge to establish a business under her own name: “A name, being able to relate to something, is powerful; just selling a bunch of jeans, there is no excitement in that!” Dorinha first came to Vancouver, Canada in 1992 to learn English, and fell in love with the city. She moved to Vancouver for good in 1995 and soon became active in the city's burgeoning film and television industry, which coincidentally helped stir the latent desire to own a business: “How something so huge as a movie set can be created in so little time; I started to think I could create something of my own.”
Fast-forward to the fall of 2000. During a trip to Brazil, Dorinha was definitively inspired by her surroundings to start designing jeans for the North American market that would reflect the Brazil she knows: the excitement of the land and the passion, sensuality and practicality of its people. She sketched the first pair of Dorinha Jeans Wear jeans while still in Brazil, and her very first sample was sewn by her sister-in-law, a dressmaker in Sao Paulo. From a suite of 20 designs and samples featuring the tag line “How low can you go?” and the label's signature The Original One Inch Zipper™, her hug-you, stretch denim low-rise jeans were an immediate hit with buyers at Canadian retailers Below The Belt, Off The Wall, and West Vancouver-based Hangers.
A hot consumer pick ever since its retail launch in July 2001, the Latin-inspired label now features 50 designs and 15 washes in ten colours, and continues to be a sizzling sell in retail and online markets throughout North America and internationally. To date, Dorinha Jeans Wear has expanded its presence from two to thirty retailers in Western Canada, as well as in the United States and Asia; introduced complementary women's leisurewear, athleticwear, bikini swimwear and low-cut underwear lines; and quadrupled its sales. The company and its fashions have been featured in Canadian news and fashion publications. Direct promotional and cross-promotional events such as fashion shows, radio/tv and club appearances, and retail signings have also forged a personal connection between Dorinha and her clientele, successfully consolidating the brand with its customer base.
Dorinha's success is the fruit of plenty of determination and of many sleepless nights. She created and marketed designs and samples under the Dorinha Jeans Wear label, found a manufacturer in Sao Paulo and formed her own company with business partner Dale R. Reynolds, in a little under three months after returning to Canada from her trip to Brazil in 2000. The effort of maintaining a business is ongoing, and more hard work lies ahead. But Dorinha says that starting her business literally from scratch was really the hardest part, after adjusting to life in a new country: “Leaving hardship, moving to Sao Paulo was a big change; moving to Canada was even bigger.” She is philosophical about her success: “Luck is when hard work meets opportunity,” she says. She relishes the challenge of using her creativity for an enterprise her family and others can be proud of.
Dorinha's other driving motivation is to create clothing that all women, from 14 to 40, can feel confident, sexy and comfortable in. “I like it when people use the word `Wow!' to describe my clothing,” Dorinha says about the reactions she receives. “I would love for everybody to wear my jeans.”