Over the last decade, Brazil has seen several positive changes within its society and one of the most exciting is the rise of women on the business scene. The years between 2001 and 2011 saw a growth of 21% in the number of women who owned businesses – and these figures are not slowing down. Here are some of Brazil’s most successful women entrepreneurs.
Known for being among the highest paid supermodels of all time and one of the most celebrated celebrities in Brazil, Gisele Bundchen has leveraged her visibility by carving out a highly successful career. She closed lucrative contracts with huge fashion labels such as Louis Vuitton and Chanel and has lent her name and image to a handful of Brazilian brands such as Ipanema, Havaianas’ most threatening competitor in the flip-flop market. She also launched her own lingerie brand through a partnership with Hope, the Brazilian version of Victoria’s Secret and she has her own skincare brand called Sejaa Skincare. In addition to her entrepreneurial success, she also supports several charities such as Save the Children and Doctors Without Borders and is a Goodwill Ambassador for the United Nations Environmental Programme.
Luiza Helena Trajano is well-known in Brazil for her role in managing the huge network of Magazine Luiza, a company with over 500 stores across the country. Magazine Luiza is a multi-purpose store, selling everything from electronics and furniture to toys, jewellery, and diet supplements. It was her aunt and her aunt’s husband that opened the store originally in 1950. Luiza grew up in the company, learning and understanding the ins and outs from a young age. Some years later, she was given the sole responsibility of managing the company. She is considered a hands-on CEO and follows the backend processes closely, keeping herself accessible across all levels of the company.
Having started her career as a domestic maid and a hairdresser, Zica Assis went on to become the founder of the Instituto Beleza Natural. Assis has naturally very curly hair and found it difficult to manage and yet didn’t want to straighten it which is a common solution to curly hair in Brazil. Instead, she decided to open a salon that specialises in treatments for curly or wavy hair. Nowadays, the Instituto Beleza Natural is a chain of salons and Assis was listed in the top 10 of Brazil’s most powerful women by Forbes.
After graduating in economics, Isabella Delorenzo founded The Brownie Shop in 2009, a store dedicated to fresh, homemade brownies. Before opening the store, she spent some time in the USA studying the classic American production techniques and completing a course in marketing for gastronomy. Armed with her new international experience and studies, she returned to Brazil and opened the first store online in Sao Paulo. It was a success and led her to open her first physical store. Nowadays, The Brownie Shop can be found throughout the country.
Born in Japan, Chieko Aoki came to Brazil when she was just six years old and is nowadays a naturalised Brazilian citizen. After studying in USP (the University of Sao Paulo), she later founded Blue Tree Towers in 1992 before launching Blue Tree Hotels in 1997. The company takes its name from Chieko’s surname, Aoki, which means ‘blue tree’ in Japanese. Within 10 years of launching it became one of the largest hotel chains in Brazil and is a market benchmark for excellence, quality, and elegant accommodation.
Forbes listed Sonia Hess de Souza as the sixth most powerful women in Brazil in 2016. She is known for transforming Dudalina, a fashion brand in Brazil. She took over the company in 2003 when it was just producing a men’s clothing line. In 2010, she renovated the line by creating a section for women and turned the Dudalina into one of the largest fashion brands in the whole of Brazil with annual revenues of approximately R$500 million (approx. US$157 million).
Sisters, Sarah and Julinha Lazaretti, are the partners and founders of Alergoshop, a store dedicated to products for babies and young children with allergies. The idea blossomed when Sarah had a baby, Marina. Marina has allergies but Sarah realised there was a notable lack of products on the market to help soothe and ease the symptoms. Sarah discussed this with Julinha who had studied a Masters in allergies and the two noticed a wide gap in the market for allergy-related products. After careful planning, they opened Alergoshop in 1993 and nowadays have a catalogue of over 280 products that are sold in Alergoshop stores and at other points of sales.