For more than 35 years, the Brazilian Association of Leather, Footwear, and Artifacts Component Companies (Assintecal) has been representing the components sector with the mission to boost the Brazilian market and take its products beyond borders. It works for the competitive and sustainable growth of the sector, bringing new ideas, innovative technologies, and creative, strategic, and financial support to businesses. It has more than 300 members, with the vision of delivering world-class technology, design, sustainability, and operational efficiency solutions. I had the pleasure of interviewing Silvana Dilly, Superintendent of Assintecal about this important institution and the challenges she has experienced as a woman in the Brazilian fashion sector.
“If we think that in Brazil less than 5% of CEO positions are occupied by women I think I have a great responsibility to show the potential of women in the labor market”
How did you start your career in Assintecal?
I started working at Assintecal in 2000, I was in charge of updating the association’s database, then went through the internal market project area, international market, and finally in the project of development of new materials that at that time was called Forum of design and technology. At that time China was already a big player in the production of footwear and materials and the Brazilian materials industry needs to reinvent itself and work its competitiveness through new product launches for the footwear industry. From that year that we started fashion research on a semi-annual basis, that would be a router for the development of components in a first stage and then in sequence, we would present it to the shoe industry, this presentation was made as a showroom in different producing regions of Brazil, we worked 10 years in this format, in 2010 we transformed the presentation into a Salon of Inspirations - Inspiramais and with the evolution of the format we also extended the scope, we would not only be a salon for the shoe industry but for all segments of fashion: footwear, clothing, furniture, and accessories. Today the Inspiramais is showcased in Brazil and then we take the exhibition to different countries within the trade fairs or business showrooms.
What’s your specific role there?
Today I am superintendent of the Assintecal and my role is to launch the management that the board of directors of the Assintecal defined, this board is composed of entrepreneurs of various segments, laminates, soles, adhesives, etc. They define what the focus of the partnership will be, which is always a big challenge as we have members from small, medium, and large companies from different segments.
For the next few years, Assintecal will have as its main guideline, SUSTAINABILITY, our industry already works with various sustainability practices now the idea is that all are certified through the sustainable origin program so that we can be internationally recognized, the export will also be an issue to develop with companies, we have original and innovative products to present to the world market.
What role does Assintecal play in the industry?
Assintecal’s main role is to represent companies, defend the Brazilian components sector and be a driving force for companies to work on design, innovation, and sustainability. And we carry out this role with the help of our allies like Apex Brazil and Sebrae Nacional.
“The labor market is not yet ready to accept motherhood. Both work and motherhood demand a lot from us. I can’t be a little mother or a little professional”
Why are there so few women in leading positions in fashion?
I am very proud to represent an association of companies in the components and footwear sector, a very masculine market but that is gradually being highlighted by the presence of women entrepreneurs if we think that in Brazil less than 5% of CEO positions are occupied by women, I think I have a great responsibility to show the potential of women in the labor market. I am sure that it is a cultural issue, that we have to work and that will not change in a few years, so gradually we will increase the percentage of women in management positions.
What challenges have you faced as a woman and how have you solved them?
My only challenge was when I got pregnant, the labor market is not yet ready to accept motherhood. Both work and motherhood demand a lot from us. I can’t be a little mother or a little professional, so I try to make decisions and accept that, at least at this moment when Aurora is little, I’m going to have to give up some things at work to be able to follow this special phase that goes up to five years. I confess that it is quite difficult, as I have always worked a lot and doing these resignations is sometimes not comfortable. Actually, I discovered in motherhood the famous gender difference at work. Now, when a child is born, a stronger, more focused, kinder, more mature professional is born, I think I have matured a lot with motherhood.
How does it feel to be such a young woman representing this important institution?
I feel happy, fulfilled, and grateful for the opportunity to lead such a prestigious partnership as Assintecal and I feel ready to continue existing projects and work on new challenges to develop the industry.
How is the Brazilian woman as a consumer? What characterizes her?
Brazil is huge, I always say there are several countries within one! Each state has unique features. I think in the south of the country, women like classic minimalist jewelry clothes better and are less bold in shapes and colors. The girls bet more on accessories, they are always with jewelry, necklaces, and colorful bags.
In the northeast of the country, the colors predominate in women, because I believe that the northeast vibrates the color, heat, the joy of people. I think the climate and environment also help a lot in the formation of fashion profiles in each region, I can’t imagine living in the northeast near the beach with a classic palette of colors.
“There are no miracles but a lot of work and study, to achieve anything in life you have to dedicate yourself to developing a great job”
What advice would you give to women who want to be like you?
There are no miracles but a lot of work and study, to achieve anything in life you have to dedicate yourself to developing a great job, but I think life must also be light and we are here to be happy, so young women should seek to specialize, Work gives you vision, breadth of choice and matures you, but never forget to have fun! Life must be a balance and we must always try to balance family, work, and friends, sometimes the work will require more and other times the other pillars, that is the dynamics of life.