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Brazilian Sportswear for Real Women with Sara Da Silva

Brazilian Sportswear for Real Women with Sara Da Silva

Sara Da Silva

Sara Da Silva is an independent clothing business run by husband and wife team Simon & Sara. It was created when Sara (Brazilian living in Ireland) became frustrated with the fit, quality, and availability of workout wear. She and Simon (an Irish engineer who grew up in the fashion business) decided to collaborate and create a line of their own.

The clothing is made to support and fit real bodies, through the stages of their lives and reminds women how strong, beautiful, and capable they already are.

Sara and Simon, you’re the husband and wife duo that is setting the activewear scene on fire – tell us how it all began?

I’m a firm believer that we all need support, whether it be from our loved ones, our followers, or our apparel. I found that while I was getting that support from my family, friends, and followers, I wasn’t getting it from my leggings. 

When I first moved to Europe I lived in Ireland. It was circa 2009  and the activewear market as we know it today did not exist. Leggings were definitely not in fashion and only cyclists, runners and strange outliers with a fetish for spandex wore them. 

As a woman, it was extremely difficult to find high-quality sportswear that performed and gave me confidence inside and out of the gym. At this point in time activewear was on the fringes and big brands such as Nike, Adidas, Reebok did not make activewear products with the average woman in mind.

I remember feeling frustrated, because in my home country, Brazil, activewear has existed forever. Really good activewear. So, I started to ask my mom to send me some leggings and in true mothering fashion, she sent me many, many pairs –  way more than I needed. 

People started to see me in my leggings and ask: where did you get your leggings? So, in February 2014 on a trip back to Brazil for my mom’s wedding, I bought some leggings back to the UK with the intent of selling them.

I created a Facebook group and in less than 24 hours with one simple post, I sold every pair that I had. I couldn’t believe how popular they were. Even when they were all sold other women began to ask me, did I have more? In a nutshell, this is how I began selling leggings, but the Sara Da Silva brand story did not materialise for another 2 years.

Now, although the leggings were different than anything available in Ireland & the UK I was never satisfied with them. The quality was inconsistent and the design of the leggings never felt right on my body. I wanted more from my leggings and I was going to find a better solution or one better, create the solution.

Then one day I decided, enough-was-enough. There was only one way to solve this problem, I had to design and produce my own pair of leggings. How hard could it be! – famous last words. 

With this, the brand was born and the Sara Da Silva journey began. 

Where did you find your passion for sportswear?

I think my passion goes beyond the physical product. My real passion is the psychological component of what I do. It’s about making women feel good about themselves, especially those in a pair of my leggings. 

It still brings a smile to my face when I see the reaction and the changes in facial expression when women try on a pair of my leggings for the 1st time – it is like they have suddenly been reunited with someone they haven’t seen for a while and their whole attitude towards their self changes. It reminds them that they are strong, beautiful and capable! 

This emotional response is where I derive my passion for my products and I want every woman to experience that feeling too.

Who or what inspires your designs?

I derive part of my inspiration from the women and country I grew up in, Brazil. Confident & shapely women, women with an inner beauty that shines through. We are fiery and not afraid to express ourselves

This self-expression appears in so many ways, but in particular, the way we dress. Our clothes are not just clothes, they are an extension of our personality. We don’t accept poor quality clothing or poor quality excuses and neither should you!.

Now to my other inspiration:  the many extraordinary women, in Ireland, the United Kingdom and globally who wear my leggings. The passion they have for my products is just incredible and it is this passion that inspires me to make the best leggings I possibly can.

When you design your leggings, do you have a particular client in mind? Who are you aiming to inspire?

When I design a pair of leggings I have a simple goal in mind: To create a product that will help women to feel more confident about themselves when exercising, so they can focus on their performance instead of worrying how their body looks.

Our ultimate goal is that every woman that tries on our leggings should instantly feel the benefit of the carefully crafted design and the sumptuous Brazilian fabric which we pride ourselves for.

But in recent times the design process has become much more co-operative as our community has grown and relayed their thoughts. 

By listening to their experiences we gain invaluable information that helps us improve future designs.

In a way, they are part of our research and development team putting our products through their paces over days, months, and years of regular use.

This breath of feedback and changes in the behaviour of the consumer is changing the way we look at sportswear and will shape the innovations we hope to bring in the future. 

Is branding important to you? How do you keep yourself accountable at staying true to your brand?

Yes, our branding is extremely important to us. 

It’s our unique identity, our voice, an expression of who we are, as we shout out to the world to grab its attention. Our brand carries on its shoulders our reputation, a reputation built with trust. A trust which has taken us over 5 years to build and much blood, sweat and tears.   

It’s a set of standards that define what we do and the standards our customers now expect from us.  As we grow in scale, staying true our brand will become much more challenging, the draw on resources increase and bigger opportunities present themselves but we must continually remind ourselves of the “why?”  and stay true to our brand.

As well as designing, modelling, and selling the Sara Da Silva range, you also have a podcast! 

I love speaking to people and hearing their stories. In a nutshell, the podcast is about ordinary women who do extraordinary things. The women are from all different backgrounds, careers, ages, dreams, wishes, hopes, and aspirations. Unfortunately due to the lockdown, our face-to-face podcasts have been put on hold but I have some really exciting guests I will be interviewing over the coming weeks by phone so keep an eye out for that!

My mojo: expect more and ask for more, and if it is not there, go and get it!⁣ 

This was something that I would hear my mom always talking about- she would tell us. If you are not happy, go and change otherwise stop complaining… I have never been happy with the status quo, I was always keen to find better for myself. I’ve never settled in life and I think that people should be confident to find what makes them happy. 

I left Brazil to challenge myself, I stayed in Ireland to be with my husband, we built the brand because I couldn’t find good quality workout wear which fitted and flexed with my body, we work tirelessly to improve our product and brand because we believe in it and growing both as a couple and a business.

What is the role of social media in your business? Is it something you enjoy?

Sara Da Silva would not exist if it wasn’t for social media… I started to sell leggings through a facebook VIP Private group that I created with some close friends and now we have over 5000 SDS lovers.  In the beginning, all the sales come from Facebook. With social media evolution, it migrated to Instagram. 

Social media gives you a voice that in the past small businesses would not have- you have the opportunity to really show what you care about and are about. If what you say is in congruence with what you show online there is a huge chance of you having success. 

Social Media can not be EVERYTHING for your business though. There are a lot more involved behind running an online business.

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How do you see Sara Da Silva, the brand, fitting into the fashion industry? What’s your role?

Without being too morbid, I just hope there is a fashion industry after the coronavirus pandemic of 2020 has loosened its grip. But I’m ever an optimist. 

For now, at least SDS will remain on the fringes of the activewear category alongside other small independent DSC brands creating highly unique limited edition products – not found on the high street(if there is such a thing anymore) until the world finds its feet again.

Our goal for the remainder of 2020 with rapid growth in 2021 without losing the exclusivity element. By producing products in low volume it helps us to stand out and stay unique in the highly saturated activewear market. 

Without the pressure of constantly creating vast collections and trying to follow a traditional fashion calendar, we can build a sustainable clothing brand with production based on demand and not on speculative buying.

Buying activewear that is built to last may come at a price, in monetary terms, but the cost to the environment and the future of mankind is far less. 

Which brands do you look up to within the activewear industry?

There are many we could mention, but three in particular always come to mind: Lululemon, Sweaty Betty, & Gymshark. Three very different activewear brands with three very different success stories and business models but all sharing a few common denominators. Great branding, strong communities, and a very clearly defined target audience. 

Their branding, for example, is incredible, as the names Lululemon, Sweaty Betty and Gymshark are now so synonymous with activewear that even people who are not familiar with activewear know what they do.  

Sometimes when explaining what Sara Da Silva does we use Sweaty Betty as an example. A great example of the power of the brand and how much work we have left to raise our profile. Our goal is someday to be used as an example to another up and coming brand of the activewear they create and sell.

What are your predictions for activewear in 2020 and beyond? 

Personally, I don’t like to make predictions, but I think activewear/athleisure and many other segments of clothing is going to suffer, even recede this year. The goal for a lot of brands will be to survive in order to thrive in 2021 and maybe even a bit further.

Visually speaking I think a lot of brands will heavily reduce their ranges, and focus on maintaining an inventory of their essential items as the fast fashion train slows down for now. 

It is impossible to foresee much product innovation this year, as most of the innovation will be in the technology of selling the clothing as online sales will dominate, as long as consumer demand continues and supply chains remain unaffected. 

Without getting too geeky on the economics, if the currencies continue to decline we may see a resurgence in nearshore manufacturing as the price of production overseas may be on a par with the United Kingdom but that’s a long shot. 

Personally, for us, we have seen an increase in demand for our products, as nationwide the public has taken to a daily exercise routine to curb the boredom of the lockdown and boost their immune system. 

This change of routine we hope will stick after the lockdown has been lifted, but we will remain conservative on what we buy and how much we buy certainly for the remainder of 2020.  

Find out more about Sara Da Silva on their social media and on their website.

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