Catarina is the founder of Benedita, a luxury baby and toddler clothing brand inspired by Portuguese culture and named after Catarina’s daughter, Benedita. Her vision is simple but powerful: Feeling loved and pretty everyday builds up children’s confidence, which can stay with them forever.
We met Catarina for a tasty hot cappuccino.
ParentVille: How did the project start?
Catarina: Entrepreneurship runs in the family on my father’s side, and my mum has the most exquisite taste, I always looked up to her! I had been living in London for over 4 years and saw that there were a lot of babies everywhere I went, there is a larger baby population compared to Portugal! It made me think that there should be a more varied offer for baby clothes than what I could find on the high streets.
I thought that I couldn’t do better than what already existed in Portugal, so I challenged the most talented designers in Portugal to design for Benedita. We currently work with 7 different designers that come up with a collection that is rich and complete.
P : Did you find it very challenging at first?
C : It was difficult in the beginning as I did everything myself. Sometimes people would ask me « Can I speak to your marketing department? » and I would look at them and say « yes, that’s me », « and your finance department? » « me again! ».
P : Did you find a big difference between Portuguese and English culture?
C: It seems that in the UK people invest less on children clothes so it was difficult at first to start a luxury brand like Benedita. It doesn’t depend on people’s purchasing power, it’s just a different point of view. It was frustrating as I knew the clothes were very successful in Portugal!
We are hoping that more families will opt to buy less clothes of better quality.
P: How do you balance your professional and your personal life? Especially since becoming a mum..
C : It is a challenge! But you work on week-ends and at night, you try to be there with your kids as much as possible and answer e-mails until 11 at night if needed! I find that it’s easier when you have small babies as they don’t move around! My daughter went to nursery at 14 months which helped a lot.
P: Is there any advice you would give to a mom who wants to start a business, or a parent in general?
C : I don’t think I have the authority for that yet! But I think the most important thing is to believe in yourself, there really is no secret, trust your instincts.
P: Do you feel that you belong to the world of « mumpreneurs »?
C: I don’t think that being a mum defines me, I mean it is a big part of me but I am a person before being a mum, so I don’t really think I belong to this category. I am an entrepreneur who is also a mum.
P: Any future plans ?
C : Well, we are now selling in shops in 6 different countries (South Korea, Australia, New Zealand, the US, Ireland and the UK), and we ship all over the world so we will continue in that direction!
P: What do you usually do on week-ends as a family?
C: Our favourite weekend activity is to get out of London for the weekend specially if we do not plan it at all. Its great to appreciate the landscape and breath some fresh air. Cambridge, Bath, Oxford or the Cotswolds are all pretty close to London.