MY JOURNEY AS A CEO SINCE 2013 AND BUSINESS OWNER IN 2 COUNTRIES, I BELIEVE IN HARD WORK.
I decided on a career plan when I was 13 years old. “I am going to be a famous fashion designer”.
When I was 14 I lost my brother in a car accident. He was 25 years old and he was my hero. I couldn’t process his absence in my life and the hole he left in my family. My sister, my mom and dad were completely hopeless. I started painting. I painted him.
I was not an easy teenager. I was creative and determined. I was the center of attention. But also extremely authoritative.
When 16 I had the leadership skills to engage 18 students of a public school from the suburbs of my city to dance hip hop. I created a dance festival in my school. I fought for what I wanted. I was expelled from 2 schools.
I was curious about art and fashion. I studied Fine Arts, Fashion Styling and later on I graduated in Industrial Design with the best dissertation of my class. My project was invited to be part of the University’s official library.
Following a program at a University was not an easy task for me. I had endless questions. I am a controversial person, quite polemic.
Starting the second year of the fashion program I won an award that took me to a 3 months Accessory Design course in a renomaded school in Milan, with all expenses covered.
My ego was fed! This course gave me the opportunity to meet industry leaders, visit famous italian factories plus I had a unique experience to meet up with international students, learn italian and live on my own.
Going back to Brazil a few months later I fell into a depression. I was back into reality. I lost part of my confidence and the attention I got with the prize. I had problems with alcohol abuse. I was lost!
Nevertheless, my family gave me strength and I couldn’t give up.
In 2013 I was working for a pattern making factory and I did not like to be asked to copy famous designers ideas every day. This was the moment when I decided to create something on my own, something to be proud of.
My father is a jeweller. When he retired he decided to build his workshop at home.
As a creative person I couldn’t stand to watch an active workshop producing something under the same roof and not be involved. I decided to join him and I started drawing jewellery. My father was quite resistant at first but for the sake of peace he accepted my needs.
We created the first wooden ring as a fun experiment. We loved it. 2 months later I had designed a full collection of jewellery, clothing and accessories to present at the Fashion Week of my city – Curitiba – It was a huge success!
We sold most of what we had. I was encouraged to open my own business.
I branded it by rescuing the heritage of my grandfather’s company which has worked with wooden products in the past. W.Ritzdorf & Cia. by the German Willy Ritzdorf was established in Brazil in 1920 and has been nationally awarded for its amazing handcrafted wooden decor.
I was finally proud of my work. Giving a meaning to my father ́s hard work and being able to create a concept where I could merge sustainability, history, love and design all together.
The brand was growing rapidly. I was invited to give interviews on TV programs and I was exposed by local media as the Successful Young Entrepreneur of my town. After 2 years I got a hint. It was time to think bigger, to think overseas.
I did not speak a word in English. I decided to move to an English speaking country and follow an MBA so I could learn Business Administration and English mutually.
Malta was a 3 years challenging experience that I am extremely grateful for. It has opened my eyes for cultural differences, its beauties and challenges.
I felt the racism underlined in people’s questions and I got caught into the European structured society created to protect the privilege of a few. The need to fight for myself has made me tough. Malta gave me a British degree but also wrinkles.
Self-awareness and transformation has begun.
I opened my first physical store on Maltese soil and I failed, for many reasons. It is not easy to describe what exactly was the mistake because when something goes wrong is never only one thing.
Fear creates a huge fog of desperate thoughts and you just can’t keep it together. I lost everything I invested. Suddenly I had no place to live, no job and no energy to write the final project of my Masters. I was lost again.
I met a friend, not a normal friend. Olivia was more like an angel that came to show me that life needs to move on.
I found a job as a Store Manager in a luxury boutique where I did also sell 80% of my store’s stock. I found a house and I finished my project. However, I neglected my dream in order to have stability. I missed the belief that I could be a “famous fashion designer” again.
I moved to Sweden, for love.
Embraced by love and a supportive relationship I started to reflect on my life goals and to work on my frustrations. I decided to take place in a digital creative program at Hyper Island. I believe it is going to accelerate my career and put me back on the trail.
Sweden is a tough place for expats. Being a latina full of passion and questions in the country of conformism. I am learning boundaries and new communication rules every day.
I do not wish for anything that is not mine. I wish for more work, more meaningful work, surrounded by mindful people.
I would not change anything in my past. I take every step as an important lesson. I just want to be sure that my wrinkles are there from my smiles and not from tears.
W.Ritzdorf has never drowned. During all these years, the company was still alive and economically stable in Brazil. It is time for me to own it back. To see the magic happening. My heart beats faster.
I built an online store.
From Business Ideation to 8000+ customers around the world and a fully functional e-commerce implementation. W.Ritzdorf is a dream that came true.
I registered my company in Sweden. W.Ritzdorf was featured in the Stockholm International Fashion Fair 2019 and 2020.
Retail sales have always been our flagship, but it is time to explore the digital market.
With the brand’s sensitivity, bold design and environmental responsibility, I believe that W.Ritzdorf has so much to offer. I am sensing the potential of the digital strategy to be the ultimate outbreak of W.Ritzdorf to enchant customers all over the world.
“Resilience is a smiley old goat.” Fernanda Winckler.