October 14, 2022 – 4:09 p.m
Sandra Chayo is a woman with a vision. When her father, Nissim Hara, an Arab and Jewish immigrant, founded a women’s underwear company, she learned early that working everyday with a long-term focus leads to great things. To cultivate a lifestyle based on physical and mental flexibility and resilience, she practices yoga, runs, exercises with weights and always has a book by her bed, whether it’s an inspirational biography or a business management title. In the professional field, she wants to reposition the brand left by her father and transform her underwear into fashion items.
At the age of twenty, Sandra became the manager of the Hope group together with her sisters Karen Sarfaty and Daniela Shalev. Today, at the age of 47, she was responsible for expanding the brand, innovating in the sector and setting sustainability as the foundation of the production chain. Her achievements put the brand on the radar of pioneers and innovators in the textile industry.
His influence was great and internationally recognized. In 2015, the brand won the WGSN Global Fashion Awards, an annual trend award, in the intimatewear and swimwear category. But she didn’t go unnoticed either. She is the winner of the LVMH award for women entrepreneurs, and was part of the Forbes list of “Successful Women 2022.” and became a judge of the 7th season of Shark Tank Brasil, which premiered in August this year. Paulista, married and mother of three, Chayo is the businesswoman of the future: she takes care of herself, leads through empathy and innovates through sustainability.
Check out our interview with Grupo Hope’s partner and director of style and marketing, Sandra Chayo, below.
What traits or skills do you consider key in leadership? How to develop them and feed them regularly?
What motivates me is to carry out the purpose of Hope every day: to encourage and make people progress more and more and be the best version of themselves. So, the characteristics I would highlight are empathy, the ability to engage a team, discipline, determination, and especially resilience.
In order to develop these skills, I try to put myself in the shoes of my subordinates in order to get the best out of everyone. I reckon that discipline will not depend only on motivation, after all we all have bad days. I also try to always look long-term to keep my focus on the end goal of each project, because nothing in life is linear. What is certain is that we will certainly have obstacles along the way and the way we face them depends on our success.
As a Shark Tank judge, what do you look for in the presented projects and what reasons lead you to invest in the chosen ventures?
What attracts me most to invest in a business is the person at the helm, their enthusiasm, determination, courage and passion for what they do. She must have a sparkle in her eyes and the will to make it happen. In addition, mastery of numbers and long-term vision are fundamental for me.
I have a greater affinity for jobs related to the textile industry in general, vegan food clear mark and sustainability, as well as design, innovation, technology and sport. All this is directly related to my lifestyle.
Nada was founded by her father. As the main wife and daughter of the owner, have you experienced any prejudice or difficulties? In what situations? What did you do to overcome them?
My father was a different leader and my greatest inspiration. He was an Arab and Jewish immigrant, two cultures considered sexist. In the 1960s, he developed his passion for women, because he was always surrounded by them. He had 5 sisters and 3 daughters. He did not create us to be heirs, but to be what we want and build our own history.
When my sister and I joined the company to help, he was very happy and gave us complete autonomy. He was always open to new things, didn’t like the comfort zone and challenged us to always be our best versions.
Maybe because I am doing business for a female audience, I have never faced difficulties as a woman. But, yes, for a leading role in an already old company. I had difficulties with long-time house managers who questioned my ideas because I was too young and the owner’s daughter.
Little by little, project by project, I showed in practice how I can contribute to my work. I dedicated a lot of myself to be able to implement my ideas and implement innovative projects on the market. The result of this effort is that we are among the pioneering brands in successful marketing cases. As an example, I led the creation of the franchise Project Hope in 2005, the debut of one of the country’s first fashion retail e-commerce stores with our brand, and we were the first lingerie company to bring Gisele Bündchen to the catwalks. Brazilians. We have also partnered with top designers, collaborated with celebrities, won numerous awards and created two new brands.
Looking back, I see that the main achievement is that I joined a very successful company and that I was able to make it progress even more, multiplying income, results and, above all, relevance in the lives of the people who work with us and in all Brazilian women.
The ESG agenda and the values of diversity, transparency and sustainability are key points for brand differentiation, especially in the fashion field. How does Hope apply these pillars?
The ESG program has been part of our culture since the very beginning of the company. Half of everything Hope makes is made from biodegradable fabric that breaks down within three years of being landfilled, as opposed to traditional microfiber fabric that takes fifty years.
We also work with the compensation of our packaging after consumption, in partnership with the company Eureciclo. In this way, we were able to positively influence the entire recycling chain, valuing the work of collectors and sorters and encouraging an increase in the recycling rate in the country. We have already recycled more than 120 tons of paper.
Our factory in Ceara also has a very important social and environmental role. As we are in an industry with a predominantly female workforce, we have developed several social programs. Today, our factory runs 100% on renewable energy, with selective collection and partnerships with authorized companies that properly dispose of waste.
Another initiative that includes the circular economy is the Doe Esperança project. In it, we encourage the donation of panties, bras and pajamas in Hope stores for reuse by socially disadvantaged women. The collected pieces go through a process of selection and cleaning in an industrial laundry and are ready for use.
You have been at the forefront of many innovations at Hope, such as implementing retail e-commerce, repositioning the brand and creating new products with a focus on sustainability. What are the challenges of the fashion market for the future and what are the next steps for the group?
I see the future of fashion as more aware of aesthetics and comfort, quality and environmental impact. Disposable fashion is no longer appropriate, not only in terms of materials, but also in terms of lifestyle. At Hope, we pay increasing attention to the development and use of low-impact materials, in addition to focusing on women’s comfort and well-being, with products developed for all bodies.
Our main challenge as a brand is to always innovate products and communication, making not only the brand, but the entire segment increasingly associated with fashion and the behavior of society.
Have you ever had any sense of self-sabotage? How do you deal with this situation and what advice do you have for women who feel this way in the projects, areas and places where you work?
I think we have good days and bad days, we are still human. When I have a thought that questions my ability, I try to change my focus and value each of my accomplishments. Everyone has their own and they should be celebrated and appreciated.
What inspiring women do you follow, read and observe? How do they inspire you?
I relate to entrepreneurs in general and love reading biographies to learn more about the challenges behind the success stories. Two women I identified with were Nicole-Barbe Ponsardin of Veuve Clicquot, a champagne entrepreneur whom I discovered in 2007 when I received the LVMH Women Entrepreneur Award. Another stylist is Diane Von Furstenberg. Two incredible and inspiring trajectories. They developed their businesses with innovation and creativity and were of great importance to society.
Another woman I follow, observe and admire is Ana Fontes. A woman who encourages and encourages female entrepreneurship, who makes it happen and who knows how to affect many lives. She is a great inspiration.
The life stories of these women, apart from being inspiring, are proof that we can overcome ourselves and be protagonists.
Finally, do you have any advice about shows, movies, books and/or songs you’ve consumed recently that have made you think about the state and role of women in society?
One of the books that impressed me and taught me many lessons was “The Clicquot Widow: The Story of the Champagne Empire and the Woman Who Built It”, which tells the story of Barbe-Nicole Clicquot Ponsardin, the founder of Veuve Clicquot champagne. A very inspiring woman who even centuries ago inherited the business, innovated in her sector, knew how to make it advanced and that her achievements are still used in the beverage industry today.