Chile Today’s Women To Watch series highlights female leaders and entrepreneurs. Take an inside look at their careers and the inspiration behind the innovative companies and organizations they’ve built. From tech companies to non-profits, you’ll learn from some of Chile’s most influential thought leaders.
In this article, we sit down with Consuelo Manosalba T., founder and CEO of Frivé, an intentionally-sourced and created Chilean clothing store. Manosalba has several focused pursuits right now. Besides spearheading Frivé, she is also pursuing a Ph.D. in education and assisting Chile Today as its Director of Education behind the scenes.
She is passionate about creativity in all its forms, from research to making clothes. She believes that women are always reinventing themselves and that it is fundamental to do everything one dreams of, regardless of whether or not they are compatible.
How did you get started in the clothing industry? Tell us a bit more about your background.
In the beginning, I started importing garments from Argentina. My photographers were fashion designers who would work with limited garments and high-quality materials, ideally sustainable. That way, I got to know other designers, and we began to manufacture garments in Chile, and now in Peru; the latter will be launched in about July.
What was your inspiration for founding Frivé?
The name comes from the combination of Frida and Chavela, my beloved mutts rescued from the street. One of the company’s founding principles is to offer clothing made of light materials, which allow us, as women, to feel free. At the same time, we also want to offer versatile items with unique details that are suitable for all occasions.
How would you describe Frivé’s style?
Frivé has a romantic-Boho style that is comfortable for day-to-day living.
What are Frivé’s mission and impact?
One of Frivé’s missions is the use of more sustainable fabrics and intentional purchasing. We cater to clients who take the time to measure themselves, read the material composition, and observe the details. These people only make a purchase when a garment speaks to them – from its material to its design.
In Chile, there is a large retail company, which, in my personal opinion, has generated an excessive consumption of clothing that tends to sit unused in closets and ends up in the trash, generating pollution.
What is the biggest challenge you’ve faced while building Frivé?
One of the biggest challenges has been gradually establishing our vision only to purchase responsible and sustainable clothing. Also, we hope to convey the message that not all clothing suppliers are created equally. We have seen other SMEs take our garments and replicate them using different and low-quality materials. Our designers reach out to these companies and inform them that their actions are not legal or ethical. Our designs are created intentionally, and a lot of intellectual property and hard work goes into each piece.
Do you have employees or work with collaborators?
In Frivé, we employ a commission agent in charge of shipments by Chilean post and deliveries in Concepción, an administrator, an accountant, a designer dressmaker, and an official photographer.
As for the collaborations, we had access to several influencers. However, it didn’t always go according to plan because the posts were not published in their profiles at the agreed times. Currently, we swap with Sofía Lavanchy, who is very professional and close to Frivé’s style.
How would you like to grow Frivé in the next five years? What’s next for your company?
It is essential to have a substantial clothing industry in Chile. Currently, creating clothing here is a complex process. We purchase the fabrics in another country, and then the dressmakers and workshops take turns finishing the products according to their specialties. The process from mold to the final touches and details is lengthy. In Chile, everything is done separately, and high-quality fabrics are scarce.
What is your advice for other women starting their own companies?
- Always trust in what you are doing. There will be complex moments and easier ones.
- Identify a specific segment of people you want to reach.
- Do unique things, because retail is often replicated.
- Always try and try again and keep trying.
- Go step by step. Maybe try starting on social networks, then, little by little, you can open showrooms, branches, etc.
- Always put your stamp on the entire process, from garment selection or creations in wholesale purchases to packaging and shipment.