About the brand name:
Dona Paula is a beach located in the Indian state of Goa. Goa is a blend of Indian and Portuguese elements, from the azulejos that scale the walls of 100-year-old churches, to the rickshaws that line every street. Our designs are inspired by the carefree lifestyle and diverse environment of Goa. Every collection is a vibrant spectacle of colour and pattern. The brand is customizable, reversible, and made in Toronto.
Behind the brand:
CEO Ninoshka D'Souza was born in Mumbai, India and moved to Toronto, Canada when she was 3 years old. Dona Paula is the result of many sleepless nights wondering about why people are paying $200 for a jumpsuit when a jumpsuit is basically a top and pants stitched together. She also hates the fact that over 80 million pounds of textile waste are sitting in landfills because people got tired of their clothes. She is hoping that Dona Paula will help to alleviate this problem.
As a Goan (a person from Goa), Ninoshka grew up in an identity crisis. Not considered Indian by most, but definitely not Portuguese, she had to create her own label. Dona Paula is a channel through which this eclectic mix of history and culture are displayed.
Rosemary was born in Toronto and is the type of person who enjoys finding new ways of doing things. She believes that clothes should not only reflect what you believe in and who you are but also serve a function and make a statement. This is why she joined her friend Ninoshka in creating Dona Paula.
1. Did you always want to build a fashion line?
Yes. I’ve been sketching designs since I was 8, but my life got derailed when I was told that I would have no job prospects as a fashion designer. However, after spending 4 years pursuing a useless degree I decided that I want to take a chance, and Dona Paula was the outcome.
2. Are you self-taught or did you study fashion design?
3. There has been a recent focus in the fashion world on ethical sourcing and eco-consciousness. What makes your brand different from other fashion brands?
While other fashion brands seem to only be concerned with getting their products out the door and into the hands of customers, we are concerned with what happens to the product when the customer is finished with it. Around 15 million tons of textile waste are thrown out by North Americans every single year. We don’t want to be part of the problem. (Click here to read about their Buy-Back program).
4. What is your typical day like?
As soon as I wake up, I check all of our social media accounts. Then I answer emails and continue preparing for our crowdfunding campaign (launching July 1st). Sometimes I’ll go out and live my life, but I always have to keep our followers engaged by adding material to our social. Dona Paula is always at the back of my mind, so it’s hectic but I love it.
5. Who or what inspires you?
I’m especially inspired by the colours and shapes that occur in nature, and I’m also intrigued by the daily life of the locals whenever I visit someplace new. The Indiegogo Collection was inspired by my last trip to Goa, India.
6. What is your personal style like?
My style is very eclectic. I like mixing prints and colours. I hate minimalism
7. What's your personal favourite from the collection?
I really love The Martina Co-ord, because I think midi-skirts are severely underrated. My favourite print + colour combination has to be Tropicalia with Light Nude.
8. What's the most important thing you have learned so far in building your brand?
Being frugal goes a long way. It might be tempting to treat yourself after a week of hard work but that money is essential in the beginning stages of building a brand. The brand is your baby.
9. If you could choose a celebrity spokesperson for your brand, who would you choose?
Gina Rodriguez. Her motto is, “I can and I will”, and these words are what get me through every day. She’s such a beautiful soul, and it would mean the world to me if she wore Dona Paula.
10. What's next for Dona Paula Clothing?
As soon as we reach our crowdfunding goal we have our work cut out for us. We’ve already started working on our first collection for when our e-store launches in February 2018, and by July of next year, we hope to fully establish our buy-back program and also add some made-to-measure options to allow for complete customization of our garments. But first, we need to reach our crowdfunding goal.
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Interview by Glodeane Brown
All photos provided by Dona Paula Clothing