Vanessa Salgueiro’s pandemic project resonates with women
Story By Christina Fuoco-Karasinski | Photos BY LUIS CHAVEZ
Vanessa Salgueiro owns a marketing agency that focuses on the gaming industry. The pandemic took a toll on her business, her clients and her psyche.
She became anxious and stressed, but the Playa Vista resident relaxed when she went out of her comfort zone to try something different in July 2020.
“My home country of Brazil is one of the biggest players in terms of fabrics,” she says. “I started something new; something that would keep my mind at ease and connect me with other women.”
Salgueiro searched for suppliers and, a few days later, she received the first box of 40 to 50 bikini sets. She panicked.
“I thought, ‘Oh my God. How am I going to sell all of this?’” she says. “I’m super shy about approaching people. My first sale was to my daughter. She was talking to girls who were sunbathing. She actually made my first sale.
“After that, I started being more confident and talking to people. In the first few days, I sold almost everything and placed my second order. It was already late summer, mid-July. I immediately started sourcing other items and I came up with the idea of activewear.”
And Vanessa SoCal was born.
“I know there are thousands of brands out there, but when it comes to really high-tech, high-end fabrics, the list surely narrows down and the price is not attractive to everyone,” she says.
“Everything I sell was thoughtfully sourced. No mass production. I believe in buying fewer items that are stylish, comfortable and durable. They can be worn for working out, lounging at home or even going out.”
For customers interested in buying clothing, Salgueiro offers “try-on” bags for free to Playa Vista residents and those who live within a 3-mile radius. The service is common in Brazil.
“Let’s say you are interested in buying items, but you’re not sure about your size, the fit, etc.,” she says. “I will ask you a few questions like size, preferences, if there is something you absolutely dislike. Based on that, I will select a few items and send for the customers to try.
“Since I started, there was not one local customer who would buy one item only. The convenience, the fabrics, the variety, the fit — and the impulse — always made them get at least three or four items at once.”
In February, she launched her online store and, she says, since then, her business has grown exponentially.
Salgueiro, who moved to Playa Vista from Brazil in 2016, thought Vanessa SoCal would be a short-term project during the pandemic. She’s starting to think otherwise.
“I fell in love with this world,” she says. “I’m thinking about new collections to bring. In August, I did our first outdoor photo shoot. I hired models in Malibu.
“We’ve had a lot of pop-ups and this helps a lot. I go to gyms and that’s pretty much it. As a small business, I have little to no budget. I had to learn how to do the website. I did everything on my own.”
Vanessa SoCal is a passion project. She’s still hands on, tagging, counting and sorting clothing, while preparing for pop-up events. All of this takes hours, but she does not mind.
“I go above and beyond to delight my customers,” she says.