Francisca Oliveira, the 4th generation of Riopele

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In the countdown to its 100th anniversary, Riopele continues to prepare for the future. Francisca Oliveira, the protagonist of the company's 4th generation, is taking her first steps in the business world after an exceptional academic journey with stints at the best colleges in London and Paris.

‘I feel that I’ve embarked on this journey of working at Riopele at the right time,’ says Francisca Oliveira. ‘My youth allows me to grow professionally alongside individuals who have worked here for years and who pass on to me the technical knowledge of the textile industry’.

1. Francisca, you represent the 4th generation of the Oliveira family at the helm of Riopele and have been working there for over a year now. Can you already gauge the company’s pulse?

Yes, I’ve been immersed in Riopele’s reality from a young age. I remember being a child and asking my dad to bring home leftover production materials so that I could make clothes for my dolls, and this early interest sparked my passion for working with fabrics and for the fashion industry. I always had a clear vision that my path would eventually lead me to join Riopele in a well-prepared manner. Now, after more than one year has passed, I feel that I’ve embarked on this journey of working at Riopele at the right time, since I believe that the skills and experience I bring from my past are contributing to the continuous growth of the company. Additionally, my youth allows me to grow professionally alongside individuals who have worked here for years and who pass on to me the technical knowledge of the textile industry.

2. Is Riopele all you expected?

Even before officially working at Riopele, I was heavily involved with the company in recent years, which gave me a glimpse of what it would be like to work here. However, this year has exceeded my expectations. Riopele is a company steeped in history and expertise, which provides invaluable enrichment for young professionals starting their careers, as they can further develop their skills.

3. You studied in London and Paris, two of the major European fashion capitals. How was the experience of studying abroad?

My years in London and Paris were a whirlwind of emotions. It was a period that moulded me as a person, transforming me into a problem solver and critical thinker. Moving to London at the age of 18, I had the opportunity to meet many people from all corners of the globe who still play a role in my life today. London is a city where there’s always something happening, and as a fashion student, it was the ideal place to learn about the technological, innovative, and sustainable aspects of the fashion industry. At Istituto Marangoni, we were tasked by renowned fashion brands to develop projects for them, expanding our contact network within the industry. After completing my three years in London, I decided to pursue a master’s programme in Paris, at Institut Français de la Mode. Here, I experienced the more luxurious side of fashion and learned about the French savoir-faire through hands-on workshops. I’m very grateful for both experiences as they were the perfect combination for my academic journey.

4. You took your first steps in the fashion universe precisely within one of the largest groups worldwide, Inditex. What lessons did you learn?

Inditex is a universe in itself, offering insights into how fashion brands operate and adapt to the rapidly changing landscape of the industry. My experience there pushed me out of my comfort zone once again, allowing me to interact with people who spoke and worked in a different language, Spanish. I quickly learned the importance of asking questions and actively participating in discussions to make the most of my time there.

5. You’re still relatively young and taking your first steps in the company. What’s your vision for Riopele's future?

It’s hard to make predictions for such a complex industry, since things are constantly changing around us. However, my vision for Riopele's future is grounded on two key pillars. Firstly, our workforce and how we adapt to the needs and expectations of new generations in the workplace. With a motivated team, I’m confident that Riopele will sustain its success. Secondly, our clients' consumption patterns. By implementing sustainable policies, we can anticipate shifts in demand and adapt Riopele's offerings to meet new requirements in terms of quality and certifications, mitigating potential impacts on our business activities.