Tastemaker: Catalina Gonzalez
India Amory Linens used: Hollyhock Stripe Tablecloth, Peppermint Candy Cane Tablecloth and Celadon Gentle Flowers Placemats and Dinner Napkins
What inspired you to begin your adventure with Dondolo Baby? Dondolo was born for the purpose of giving love. The idea began after I had my first baby, Santiago. I was enjoying every moment of my role as a new mom but I felt something was missing. I believe my call has always been aimed at helping others and a desire to give love to my family and to those who are in need. Dondolo is the expression of such love, my way of giving back to the moms that hand stitch our clothing, give back joy, love and support to children in need both in Dallas and Colombia.
I am extremely passionate about designing collections that are thoughtfully made, ethically manufactured and each detail tells a story. Giving love to our customers by manufacturing high-quality, unique pieces with special details that will be saved in children’s keepsake boxes.
Today, Dondolo is a luxury clothing company that provides children with beautiful, heirloom-quality clothing crafted from European and Colombian fabrics.
How do you balance being a mother of 4 and running your own brand? Balance is different for everyone, for me finding balance has been freeing myself from all the wife/mom/boss guilt. How I have done it is by adjusting my life schedule to make quality time for my priorities: time for my personal health (spiritual and emotional), time to be a wife to my husband, time to be the best mom I can to each one of my boys...because each of them needs completely different things, and time to be the best leader I can for the amazing team of Dondolo.
For my personal health I pray, meditate, run, with my husband we literally need 1 hour of open communication daily and I know it sounds easy, but with our busy lives hard to get, or my boys I used to do after-school activity with each one on a different day of the week - during COVID times- I am still trying to figure this one out…, and for work trying to keep a solid 4-5 hours in office and 30 min daily team meetings really worked for me.
Although the majority of the time it is crazy, and chaotic, but I love it!! I don’t juggle it alone, I have an amazing family support system! My husband’s co-parenting has been crucial. Our nanny Cristi who’s been with me since I was 10, now cousins, who recently moved to Dallas, and my amazing Dondolo Team. It takes incredible teamwork to take care of our four boys, 2 dogs, guinea pig, gold fish, rabbit and Dondolo.
One thing I have learned is to ask for help, when I feel overwhelmed. Understand and know that even when I want to do it all, many times it is impossible to do it all.
What parts of Dallas culture have shaped your life in the most impactful way? Dallas has a great culture, a strong sense of community, a growing fashion community, and passion about giving back, all things I can strongly relate to and love about raising a family in such an amazing city.
I came to Dallas when I was 17 and never once have I regretted or wanted to move somewhere else, this city has given me so much!
My boys are growing in a city that is very diverse, a city where they can grow up as global citizens, sons of immigrants, and that is what I love the most it.
Your website mentions your appreciation for your team. What’s your secret to teamwork? The purpose of Dondolo is giving back to the community, Dondolo’s heart is love!, and the heart on my team is also love, and it’s what connects and unites us to work harder with purpose, to support and empower each other and to celebrate the big and small accomplishments every day!
Love for what we do every day, I strive for my team to feel challenged and to love everything they are working on, that love for what we do, shows! Shows on our collections!
The purpose of giving back to the women and children of our community and in Colombia, I feel is something very strong and special that also turns the daily work that we do into something meaningful something that gives more than sales to Dondolo it gives Dondolo the why!.
I am a big believer in God’s timing and sharing the belive of everything that we cannot control is in His hands is also very special to me personally, beecause in the fashion industry lots of things can and will happen, shipments will be delayed or stopped by customs and remained calmed and trust the process and God’s timing.
Can you speak on some of the new employment for mothers Dondolo Baby impacts? There are three groups of women who we empower and impact! The first 2 groups sew our clothing; the first group works in our main factory and the second group are moms and women that hand embroider our clothing. The third are the moms of the children we give back to and the fourth group are the moms in our Mom Empowerment Program who we met on our Give Back trips.
The women and moms who work at our factory have amazing stories of working hard to build their homes and support their families.
Some of the single moms who hand embroider everything, do it from home so they can look after their children but also support their families. It’s a trade passed from mother to daughter and these women hand stitch their love into every piece.
When we do our giveback trip we deliver more than 2,000 pieces of clothing and snacks to children in desperate need! We go to different communities but always one in particular called “La Boquilla”. We have formed a special relationship with the community and with the moms there. We selected 5 moms, and created “Mom empowerment program” they showed initiative and interest in starting their own micro business in order to make this dream a reality they help us dress our Dondolo stuffed animals for a wage, during their work time they receive life lessons and training to start their own ventures. Today they have started their micro businesses in order to sustain and better their families. One sales fish, another one sales sandals, one of them bought washing machines with the money received from us and washes clothes for other people in her community!
What has been your biggest challenge in growing your brand and how did you overcome it? After being so long in wholesale about 6 years, me and the company became routinary, and lost in the wholesale market shows and selling to boutiques became our most important focus. Finding the essence of the brand, the company and the why I loved doing this (designing and giving back)so much, was the turning point for Dondolo and the biggest challenge followed it which was stop selling wholesale and concentrate in direct to consumer-retail.
We rebranded at the end of 2019, but most importantly, I was completely clear of the values of my company and what was it that I wanted Dondolo to stand for and the Dondolo experience that our customers were getting with us! Because we aren't just selling children's clothes, we are selling the clothes that women and moms and children are going to wear to build memories that will last a lifetime.
The challenge was telling our story directly to our customers for the first time, and selling new, unique, capsule collections in the process! And I can't thank my team and my loyal clients enough, because it has been an incredible success! We are not only selling clothes we have established a community of moms who love celebrating life with their children and building memories. The Dondolo experience that started as a dream became a reality!
What does a swing represent to you? (Dondolo is italian for swing so our readers might be interested in this) Dondolo means swing, babies love the rocking motion in their moms bellies, children love to swing!
For me it represents the love of giving back, to help others! The swinging motion of giving and helping who needs it the most and it coming back in your live as blessing to you and your family.
What is your favorite Holiday tradition? Building our nativity scene!, I used to do it every year growing up and also my husband who comes from a Spanish traditions family… we do the whole Nazareth town with animals, and shepherds… seeing my boys throughout the years helping us put it together has been beautiful.
Also my husband's birthday is on Christmas eve… we celebrate both and it has become a tradition.
What’s your favorite India Amory print? So hard! I love love love The Spring green and the celadon buttercup as basics! Love mixing prints. Love the legume as a statement tablecloth But I am in love with the Christmas Collection! Is so beautiful and versatile! The Peppermint Candy Cane is elegant and subtle and the Hollyhock Stripe is sophisticated, bold and so versatile!
Why would you encourage someone to take a break from their work life and throw a party for loved ones? Because even more this year, making memories with loved ones its what will keep us in our hearts forever. Work life is amazing but when we take a break and truly enjoy the present it's when we value our blessings. Being alive, healthy, having your children/family next to you .
This past year has been one for the history books. What have you learned about yourself you did not know in 2019? This year has been a year of growth and love for the most essential parts of our life. Health, and family became the center of our lives. The memories that I built with my family this past year are unforgettable… lots of those memories were around the table and with your tablecloths, so thank you for being a part of them! Being away from my parents who live in Colombia has been one of the hardest things this year for me… my dad is 95 and my mom 85 and not seeing them every 3-4 months like I used too has been very hard.
What’s your favorite part of being a mother? I feel I have received the greatest gift and responsibility, being a different mom for each one of them! I feel each one of them needs different things and me being able to educate myself to provide them is what I love the most about being a mom. Raising kind, loving, empathetic, feminist boys that appreciate art, music and are able to express their feelings. Raise them to find happiness and to love everyone, and appreciate and value differences in other humans and other cultures.
What does the future hold for Dondolo Baby? Lots of new and amazing Collaborations with other women owned brands, a baby heirloom line, and a giveback trip with women from Dallas to go and giveback in communities in Colombia.