MEDELLIN, Colombia – Colombian businesswoman Marleny Giraldo turned a small garment-making workshop with three sewing matching operators into a solid company that, with the work of 28 employees, turns out at least 90,000 pairs of pajamas every year for clients in at least five countries.
With a tireless longing to learn, its creator, who started out in the textile-garment sector at age 18 as an underwear packer, started her business almost 30 years ago at her home in Medellin.
“I lacked capital but my sister saw my potential as a businesswoman and bought me the machines to begin making T-shirts and pajamas,” Giraldo told EFE about the founding of “Dulces Sueños” (Sweet Dreams), the brand she managed to distribute through boutiques and department-store chains.
The articles of clothing she now makes with her team are sold in countries that include Puerto Rico, Costa Rica, Panama and Venezuela – but first came years of wisdom and folly in her operations that convinced her to get professional training.
The entrepreneur who today has more than 400 clients remembered that “Christmas was coming and I didn’t know how to pay my workers their benefits.”
With that anxiety, Giraldo sought help from the Interactuar social development corporation that has aided more than 300,000 business owners get ahead. It showed her the ropes of the industry and encouraged her to create her own brand.
“What they taught me I applied to my own company,” she said about the training she received at Interactuar and other organizations that taught her how to keep up to date in such areas as marketing, quality control, production systems and exports.
After doing work outsourced from clients like Caribu, Almacenes Exito and Offcorss for 10 years, she started her own business and chose babies’ pajamas as her leading product.
“I wanted to bring out a different product so my previous clients wouldn’t think I was copying their garments. I wanted to be seen as moving ahead on my own merits,” Giraldo said.
That goal led her to participate in 12 editions of Colombiamoda, considered the country’s top fashion fair
“My pajamas shine in the dark. And I made others that exude fragrances, something that didn’t exist at the time,” she said about an invention that landed her one of the prizes won in her textile career.
With a company whose products are sold in department stores, boutiques and shopping centers in every Colombian city, Giraldo announced that her next step will be international expansion, which she will tackle once her daughter finishes her English studies in Australia.