You’re known for bold, chic looks. Where are you headed in this one?
The Indy Opera or a day at the office. The boardroom doesn’t have to be boring.
You grew up in Rio Grande do Sul, Indiana’s “sister state” in Brazil. Biggest difference between Brazilian and American fashion?
Brazilians, both men and women, dress up more, with the latest accessories. Here, it’s more relaxed.
What first sparked your interest in fashion?
My parents were working class, worked 9-to-8 in retail. I’m an only child, so my aunt took care of me often, and she was so fashionable, the opposite of my mom. I remember this aunt always had red nails, and when I was 6, I asked her, “What are those?” I inherited a fur coat from her from the ’60s that I still have with me.
How do you incorporate Brazilian fashion into your own wardrobe?
Fun fact: The last time I bought something new was in 2016. I gave up on buying new, not because of sustainability, but because I like unique things. I don’t want to have the latest Zara collection. I want to be me. So I’ve been buying secondhand and vintage. The only exception I make is when I travel. Every time I go to Brazil, which is usually every year, I buy something from local designers.
Congratulations on recently being named the Honorary Consul of Brazil to Indiana! What does a consul do, exactly?
I’m a liaison for the Brazilian community here, which is growing. It’s amazing to hear someone at a supermarket in Indy speaking Portuguese! My job is to help people who need information or emotional support: someone who lost a job and doesn’t know what to do, someone moving from one city to another, someone who’s lost a spouse. Many have been struggling during the COVID-19 pandemic. I also promote Brazilian culture and help Indiana draw in Brazilian investors.
Why is Indiana such a popular spot for Brazilians to move to?
A lot of it is because of big companies like Eli Lilly, Roche, Rolls-Royce, and Cummins, which bring in a lot of well-qualified executives. Some people come for doctorates and stay because they get good job offers. But also, many high school students come through exchange programs and get scholarships to attend university here. It’s such a diverse group. I’ve met people in Indiana from all 27 states in Brazil.
In your first months as honorary consul, any special memories?
My most important highlight was when the American federal government sent 2.3 million AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccines to Brazil. Because the lab makes the vaccines in Ohio, the closest airport was Indy, so they brought the doses here. It was a very emotional moment. I was just there to oversee the process, but it felt like I was doing something.
Not only are you the Honorary Consul of Brazil to Indiana, you’ve served as president of Partners of the Americas since 2017 and collaborated with the International Center to help Brazilian families who have moved to Indy. That’s quite a commitment! Why is the Brazilian-American relationship so important to you?
When I met my husband on our first date—a blind date—he said, “I have this fantasy to sell my business before I turn 40 and move to the U.S. because I believe in the country’s ideals: the American dream, freedom, entrepreneurship.” That was 1996. I told him, “You shouldn’t call it a fantasy. You should call it a dream so you can work to make it happen.” The next day, he says to me, “We should get married and move to the U.S.” In 2001, we moved here for just one year, then we went back to Brazil. We came back in 2005 knowing we would stay for good. I have a strong emotional connection to the U.S., and it’s been the land of opportunity not only for us, but for so many Brazilians. Especially here in Indiana. They’re coming for safety, security.
What is something you wish Hoosiers knew about Brazil?
Americans in general usually think of Brazil as the land of Carnival and soccer, but Brazil is more diverse than that. If you think America’s diverse, Brazil is even more so. We have the second-largest Japanese community in the world, after Japan! It’s a huge country with millions of people who look different, but we all live in harmony. We are the real melting pot.
Let’s bring it back closer to home. What do you love about Indy?
I’m so happy here. Indianapolis is a hidden gem. My friends ask why I’m not in Miami, New York, the obvious places. I tell them, “No, guys, Indy has what I want.” It’s a safe city. The restaurant scene is growing and growing. It has nature and green spaces.
Favorite part of the local fashion scene?
I loved being part of the beginning of the Fashion Art Society [at Newfields]. Looking back now, the fashion scene has evolved so much. Now we have our own fashion weeks and so many other events related to fashion. Pattern has been a pioneer in that sense. The year the movie about [fashion photographer] Bill Cunningham came out, I was so mad it wasn’t showing in Indianapolis and sent an email to Keystone Art Cinema asking why not. They said they didn’t think there was an audience for it. I told them if they showed it for just one night, I would make sure a big group of people came. And it was a full house! If you love fashion, sometimes you just have to create opportunities.
What do you wish you knew when you were younger?
The longer I live, the better my personal fashion sense gets. I know myself, what I like, what I feel good about. I’m at the top of my game at 58.
Final question: An outfit isn’t complete without _________.