Mum's the word:
Interview with Sofia & Marta Sousa, Patachou
It’s said that one of the most important relationships we have is the one we have with our mothers, and Sofia and Marta Sousa (co-founders of Patachou) are resounding proof of this.
Marta and her mother Sofia wanted to create luxurious baby and children's wear and as a result, Patachou was founded as an extension of the family textile business.
The two work harmoniously together in running different aspects of the business and say that the key to their success is their passion and love of what they do, in addition to their mutual respect for each other.
In celebration of Mother’s Day, we sat down with the inspirational pair to discuss their strong family connection, joint passions and any words of wisdom they may have for anyone who is planning to go into business with their mother or daughter.
We love your strong family connection and the story of how Patachou was founded jointly. Do you look after different areas?
Marta: My mother and I have a very strong connection, we love to work together and above all we have a huge passion for our brand and company. When you work with so much love and passion, everything is easier. We respect each other's work very much. My mother is more in charge of the productive department and human resources, while I am resonsible for the creative and sales departments.
Mother: The roles are very well defined. Marta leads the entire product development and sales. The success of the company and Patachou is also due in large to the empathy and trust we have established with our customers. We care about everything from the design of the product to the sale, to the final consumer. We establish great friendships and partnerships with our clients. We've had private label clients for 30 years, so it's almost impossible to separate business from human relations. Our customers are our friends and I’m always in tune with Marta - all the big decisions are taken together. The strategy and new challenges are always discussed and approved by both of us.
What are your tips for creating a harmonious mother and daughter partnership?
Marta: I think our tip for creating such a strong harmonious mother and daughter partnership is our passion for what we do! We really believe in our products and we think our clients can feel that in our collection. We also respect each other's opinion and always make the decisions together.
Mother: There needs to be a great respect of each others’ ideas, with Marta it was very easy. From the age of 12, Marta always accompanied me to all the business trips to our clients as well as to the trade shows. At the age of 15, she attended the first international fair in Las Vegas without me - she went with a collaborator of ours. During this trade show in Las Vegas, everyday she gave me feedback, so incredible for such a young girl. Marta is my daughter and maybe I’m biased, but she is really special. We always understand each other very well, whether in business or personal life. It's amazing but even with clothing we have same style and taste, therefore like the same things.
Did your mother pass down any words of wisdom?
Marta: My Mummy is a real entrepreneur, a brilliant mind, a visionary leader and a very positive person! I’m a big fan of my Mummy! She always passes her passion for textile and business to me. She gives the best advice and she is always right. Mummy has more than 30 years of experience in this field, all her expertise helps a lot to grow our business. Sometimes we feel we like we are not working because we really enjoy our job together and have such a great time!
Mother: I always taught my daughters that they need to work hard and do what they really love to do! We spend so much time in our lives working that we really need to do it with pleasure. They always participate in our business and their opinions and tips are always very well received. They have been born in the business environment.
What is the best thing about working together?
Marta: It's enjoying every minute with my biggest fan – my beautiful mummy.
Mother: It's being together with one of the people who I love the most! It’s a god’s blessing.
Do you hope Patachou will stay in the family? Are there any next generation children who you envisage will become involved?
Marta: I hope so, I would love that! My grandmother started the business, then my mummy and finally me. Hopefully I will have a daughter or son with the same passion for the business, fingers crossed, I would be very proud. I also need to say we are blessed to be surrounded with amazing people working with us every day! They are like our family and we really enjoy working with these people. Without our amazing team we are nothing.
Mother: Hopefully, Patachou will remain in the family for many years. My daughters are still very young and they haven't yet had children. Both of my daughters (Marta and Ana) are getting married this year, so hopefully we will have the next generation of children soon.
Outside of your working life, what do you enjoy doing together?
Marta: We love to travel together, to discover new cultures, to meet new people. We always have lots of fun together! However, we are very addicted to work and we always end up discussing Patachou and business!
Mother: Outside of our professional life, we like to do lots of things together. We love to travel with all the family, go shopping or simply have dinner at nice restaurants. Every moment, however simple, is always well spent and with great joy.
Your native home is Portugal and you don’t celebrate Mother’s Day until May. Do you spend the day together as a family?
Marta: We always celebrate with family, and usually we organize a beautiful brunch with my two sisters and mummy and of course my grandmother and we always organise a small surprise for our beautiful mummy. We live all together, five girls and my dad! We are a very close and family is everything to us! We have a strong connection and love to spend family time together, having fun and making memories.
Mother: As Marta said, we are a very traditional Portuguese family – family always comes first and we enjoy every moment together. On Mother's Day, we always enjoy some family time, with my daughters and my mother. Actually, it was my mother who started the textile business - we are very close and have a great connection.
If you could offer one piece of advice for someone going into business with their mother or daughter, what would that be?
Marta: First of all, they really need to love what they do, as Steve Jobs once said: "You’ve got to find what you love." Your work is going to fill a large part of your life, and the only way to be truly satisfied is to do what you believe is great work. And the only way to do great work is to love what you do. If you haven’t found it yet, keep looking. Don’t settle. Then of course, there needs to be a lot of respect and connection with your mummy! It can work pretty well and we are an example of that.
Mother: Its needs to have lots of honesty, and the communication between mother and daughter needs to be very open. We should support and encourage our sons and daughters when they ask for help. I think there can be lots of advantages working together – two generations of thinking.
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