The Heart & Soul of Dondolo
Posted on December 05 2018
The Heart & Soul of Dondolo
Profit meets purpose for designer and entrepreneur, Catalina Gonzalez of Dondolo. Creating elegant, timeless styles for children that showcase the art of hand-smocking and hand-embroidery is her business. Empowering single mothers in Columbia so they can support their families is her passion. In her 7 year journey with the company she created, Catalina and her team are changing lives in a community deep in the Andes Mountains. She's providing job opportunities where there are few and she's paying a livable wage. She's created a program that teaches tangible skills and life skills to single moms so they can increase their self-esteem and improve their families' futures. She's spreading love in a remote town facing extreme poverty and showing its children they are valued. Her mission is Empowering Motherhood Together. We're so proud to be a part of it.
How did Dondolo begin?
It all started around my first born’s birth 7 years ago when I was a stay at home mom. In wanted to work and decided to create a children's clothing line, initially just for babies 0-2 years old. I wanted to help my country as well. Dondolo started as a pima clothing line and manufactured in Peru and then transitioned to all Columbia made and produced.
Where are you from?
I grew up in Colombia and moved to the U.S. when I was 16 years old. When I go back to Colombia and see the level of poverty there versus the US, I am reminded of the things I never want to take for granted.
What was your initial vision for the company?
Honestly, the vision I had in my mind was a lady on the street, begging for money. I couldn’t let go of that vision. I knew I wanted to help women and children. Then I had a second child, and afterwards, I put my heart and soul into the company. I hired a director of sales and CFO. As we built the company, we built our giveback, which meant that we started giving back clothes to children in need. But it was more than clothes. It was about giving the kids love and something new and special to make them feel appreciated. Part of my vision also is empowering mothers in need and letting them know they are WORTH receiving gifts and that they can change their circle of poverty. We also starting giving snacks and food for the kids and mothers to enjoy with the clothing. We still wanted to do more, so we started working with the moms. We started working with five moms to help them make a profit - from washing machines to fishing. Many of the women in the community we work with have never seen a washing machine in their lives.
What has been monumental for you as a entrepreneur?
To have built such an amazing team of women. We are only five strong and we have more than 150 wholesale accounts. I design everything and then sit down with the team and we collaborate together on everything. All clothes are manufactured in Colombia by women. Every hand embroidered and hand smocked piece is made by a woman. We also work with all of the fabrics and manufacturing in Colombia including marketing. From stitch to finish, we do it all. We are a group of women who help each other.
Silvia is our CFO and in charge of our manufacturing. She makes magic happen by bringing the fabric from Europe to the Colombian manufacturers. Her organized, loving, and hard working personality makes her amazing, diligent, and excellent at her job. She stays on top of EVERYTHING!
Catherine is our VP of Public Relations. With her outgoing, sweet, and beautiful personality, she is the best ambassador for Dondolo. She plans the most successful events, and spreads the word about Dondolo with media all over the US.
Fernanda is our VP of Marketing. With her sweet, creative, imaginative and talented personality, she designs our campaigns, newsletters, social media posts, and more. Everything looks pretty on our website because of her!
Mimsy is our VP of Sales and my travel buddy and she makes a hard day the best and most successful one. Her attention to detail, welcoming, kind and sweet personality makes her the best connection to all our boutiques. She falls in love with the collections as much as I do, and travels the US selling it to all of our amazing stores.
How do you juggle family and work life?
For me, it’s all about time management and being mindful that family comes first. Every mom is trying to be the best she can be, and I try to be my best. I have three boys and I want them to see a woman who works and is passionate about her work!
What is next for you and Dondolo?
What is next is helping women locally in my Dallas community by empowering them and creating more jobs.
What do you want people to know about Dondolo?
When you buy clothing from Dondolo, you are not only buying high quality clothing. These clothes have changed someone’s life. Each piece of clothing is extremely special to us. We spend months on the designs and process. We want clothes that you fall in love with and cannot live without!
Do you have a piece of clothing that you cherish the most?
I fall in love with each collection as we make it and each new collection becomes my favorite. Every collection has such a unique story to it.
What is your legacy?
My legacy is in our product. We create timeless clothing that speaks to people across generations. Our clothes can be kept for generations passed down from mother to child. Sewn and sold with love!
What is your company in 3 words?
Empowering motherhood together!
What are you grateful for?
My husband and my family that supports me, and the women we help and who continue to encourage me to pursue my passion. This is more than a job for me.