Fly Female Entrepreneurs
Fly Female Entrepreneurs: dobrasilshop.com
(L-R) Damali Alexander and Dana Johnson
Indulging in the flyest Brazilian fashion required an airline ticket, hotel accommodations and a bit of extra spending money before Damali Alexander and Dana Johnson joined forces. As founders of the new online boutique, dobrasilshop.com, the well-traveled style mavens are providing access to a carefully curated collection of Brazilian designers, right at your finger tips. I had an opportunity to catch up with the digital retail mavens at the top of their entrepreneurial journey to chat about everything from identifying your ideal business partner to their “must-have” technology gadgets. Here’s what they had to say:
In Her Shoes: Congrats on the launch of dobrasilshop.com! What inspired you to offer this Brazilian online shopping experience to women in the U.S.?
Dana: My partner, Damali Alexander, just loves to travel. In 2008, she moved to Brazil for roughly six months. When she came back to Brooklyn in early 2009, she longed for the vibrancy of their clothes. The swimwear was so flattering, and stayed in place, plus the cuts of the clothes were for real women- not what you think of stereotypically when you think Brazilian women or Brazilian models. The accessories were very creative, natural, and integrated a lot of raw fabrics. Damali began to notice an absence of what she was looking for here in the U.S., so she gave birth to dobrasilshop.com.
In Her Shoes: How would you describe the quintessential dobrasilshop.com woman?
Dana: The do brasil woman is a traveler, trendsetter, and free spirit. She’s in touch with who she is, and is not afraid to be bold or lead the pack. The world is her playground and fashion is her language.
In Her Shoes: How did you know you that you and Damali would be a good fit as business partners?
Dana: We didn’t actually. I was leaving a full-time gig with a major magazine back in October of 2010 and I have always loved fashion. Occasionally on weekends or whenever the girls would get together, as Damali was my friend first and not someone I met in a professional environment, we would talk about do brasil. One day I called her and let her know that I thought the concept was amazing and I wanted to be a part of it. That was two years ago. As we really began to dig deep, Damali had found an exercise for business partners to “get on the same page”. There were about a dozen questions that we had to answer separately and without speaking to each other. The questions pertained to “where do you see the company in xyz years?”, “what do you want your role to be?”, and “how would you like to exit the company?”. There are questions you may “think” about but never really think through or write out. These questions were then discussed and we discovered we were in fact really on the same page.
In Her Shoes: What is a day like in Dana Johnson’s shoes?
Dana: Busy, busy, busy! No two days are the same so I’m learning to find balance. Right now, it’s all about making my smart phone really work for our business. Damali and I use What’s App and Google video chat to stay connected during the day. Technology has made this easier than I thought it would be. I don’t feel like she’s in Rio, I feel like she’s right here in Brooklyn with me!
In Her Shoes: What are the top three tips you would offer women searching for their ideal business partner?
Dana: 1) Not all friends should be partners. But if you are in a business with a friend, be careful to draw a line between business time and fun time/girl time. Doing this can make or break your friendship which will leak into your business.
2) Be honest with yourself about what skills/resources you lack as a business person, then find a partner that has the “missing pieces”.
3) Find a partner who defines success the same way you do. You do not want to build with someone that wants to only have a single location or max out at $250k a year while you are dreaming of global domination and trips to St. Tropez.
In Her Shoes: How long did it take for you to give birth to this concept from inception to its official launch?
Dana: Damali birthed the idea back in 2009. After many trips to Brazil, product testing at NYC fairs and the good old world of import/export, dobrasilshop.com launched September 11, 2013. *Click on the link above to see why this date was so important to Damali.
In Her Shoes: What are a couple of the “ah-ha” moments you experienced throughout the process?
Dana: I was meant to be an entrepreneur. Sometimes your friends, family, or boo will not understand your ambition, passion, etc. There are countless ways to make anything work. Just be creative!
In Her Shoes: As digital retailers, I’m sure that most of your time is spent online. What are a few of your “must-have” gadgets that get you through the day?
Dana: For day-to-day inspiration my first stop is Instagram. I find tons of cool things there through new fashion blogs, etc. I also just discovered Lori, an app that helps you find female-owned businesses. Being a part of this journey and knowing the blood sweat and tears that goes into chasing your dreams, I want to support everyone who goes for it! There is enough out here for everyone and we need to support each other. My last gadget is my Clarisonic Mia. All these long hours of working can take a toll on my skin…I have to at least try to look normal!
In Her Shoes: Any big plans for dobrasilshop.com in 2014 we should know about?
Dana: We aim to launch two new collections and more accessories by end of year. 2014 is world cup in Brazil so yes, we definitely have something up our sleeves!