Vibrant, fun-loving, driven and tasteful, words that describe my friend and this month’s BagLady of Style, Helena Brunetti Domingues. A lady, whose vigor for life has been an ever-present reminder of the joy that comes from living life in the moment.
Helena, just like me has spent this year, 2020 in Shanghai- a land that’s not her own, but a city that she considers home. She has held on to hope and positivity this year and despite all of the chaos and uncertainty around us, has thrived through challenges, ultimately experiencing personal growth as well as growth in her career.
So, here she is to spread love and good vibes from her home in Shanghai...
Name: Helena Brunetti Domingues
Current City: Shanghai
Occupation: Senior Merchandiser Manager
How would you describe your style?
Simple and casual with a twist of authenticity.
Would you say that Brazilian fashion has a distinct style? Do your cultural roots affect your style in any way?
Brazilians are happy, friendly and very casual, this for sure has an impact on our style. But we are also a country with a very wide diversity - different cultures, ethnology, and religions - so I won´t say that there is a distinct style. What I believe affects my personal style is the mood of freedom and happiness of Brazilians and because of that, I am a big fan of colors and natural fibers. Like a good Brazilian, I prefer to dress up for summer- winter looks are not my thing! I also have the practice of wearing white every Friday, a custom inherited from the religion named candomblé.
What does being a BagLady mean to you?
Being a BagLady means to have the authenticity to dress up in what makes me feel comfortable with myself. I believe in dressing in my own way to feel good, unique, and being able to express myself through clothes and B.L.B allows me to do so.
Can you describe BagLady Basics designs in three words?
Simple, chic, and casual.
Name five must-haves in your wardrobe.
1) White poplin shirt
2) Nice light cashmere sweater
3) A dress to impact
4) Leather bag
5) Fine and simple jewelry
How did you get your start working in fashion? Has it always been a passion of yours?
I started to work in Fashion as an intern at a very small brand that was owned by a friend of my ant (that is a fashion photographer). After having a terrible experience working at an investment bank (which I thought was my dream) I realized that I wanted to work with something that I was and still am passionate about!
Would you say that living in Asia has influenced your style? If so, how?
I learned how to dress for the winter and to avoid high heels considering that I cycle everywhere!
What made you decide to move to Shanghai and what keeps you here?
I moved to Shanghai because of work, but before moving I came on business trips many times. I am from a very big and international city in Brazil named São Paulo, so I feel at home here.
Any advice on finding true connections with people in a foreign country?
Be open to meeting new people and accepting their differences. What I like about being in a foreign country is that I have become open to socializing with anyone. My barriers and pre-judgment on others have less impact on me. Basically, I have become more open to the new and unknown.
What does the expression “self-care” mean to you?
Respecting my feelings and giving voice to my inner self.
Do you have any daily rituals or routines?
I wake up early no matter the day of the week. I always have breakfast and try as much as I can to add a sport to my day. I also have a little square of chocolate before going to bed every day (guilty pleasure!). Also, my "White Fridays" is my ritual to start the week with good vibes!
What is the first country you’d like to visit when borders are freely reopened?
Brazil for sure! I miss home, family and friends!
Is Shanghai your final “home” destination? If not, Which country would you like to live in after Shanghai?
I don´t have an answer to this question. I tend to live my life day by day and do not make concrete plans for the future. What I can say is that for now, Shanghai is my home.
Has travel changed your outlook on life and humanity?
I remember doing my 1st backpack trip with friends when I was 16 years old after I lived in the USA as an exchange student. This travel experience changed the person that I was before. Traveling has opened my mind and increased my awareness of the world and reality, but most of all, it has changed my perception of myself. Knowing different cultures, lifestyles and landscapes is the only way to relate in this world.
Describe your childhood growing up in Brazil in three words.
Freedom, cousins and fun
What did you want to be when you grew up?
As a child, I wanted to be a secretary (hahaha)! I used to go to my grandmother´s house and play with her old phone pretending I was the secretary of a doctor, taking notes about appointments on a little black agenda.
Who did you want to be?
I think myself, I never wanted to be anyone else.
Who are you now?
I am Helena, a Virgo that is very down to earth, super organized, and loves fashion, traveling and being surrounded by friends. I have a passion for home décor and like to practice exercise. I have a very happy life together with my boyfriend in Shanghai.
Describe 2020 in three words?
Challenge, creativity and resilience.
What do you enjoy most about your current life?
I am enjoying my new house and spending time looking for and buying furniture and decor for every little corner. I am also enjoying my new position at work since I was recently promoted and now have a bigger team to manage and develop.
Have you learned any lessons on leadership while taking up your new role at work with a larger team?
Respect the diversity, develop different tools of leadership to use on each occasion and with different persons. The larger the team the wider repertoire of tools you should have ready to be used. Lastly deciding what NOT to do is harder than deciding what to do.
When you’re down, what lifts you?
Exercise is a very important part of my life that lifts me and helps me to think about my problems from a different angle. I also have a lovely boyfriend that is an expert on cheering me up in moments I feel down. We always play the game “what the worst thing that can happen in this circumstance?”. It helps a lot to think about the worst-case scenario in these moments and realizing that it is never always that bad.
Compared to 10 years ago, how empowered do you feel?
Wow, much more! I have my independence socially and financially speaking. I also live in a city that is safe and where I don´t feel scared or in danger. I come from a country where you never feel safe if walking on the street at night alone. If you see a man walking in your direction you tend to look down or cross the street to avoid contact or bad comments….
What do you love about being an empowered woman? What else would you like to do with that power?
I love being my real self, to do what I want, talk about what I think. I am much more connected with myself and this reflects on the people that I have around me. Empowered women attract other empowered women and together we create a network, that supports and serves as a model for society.
What else would you like to achieve in the next 5 years?
I just wish to be healthy and happy.
What would you say to your 18-year-old self?
Keep on doing the things you do, and you will arrive in a very nice future when you achieve 33.
What do you consider your greatest achievement to date?
I guess to be a happy person, which includes having an amazing partner in life, a good balance between work and fun, lovely friends, and a very supportive family.
What’s the best advice you’ve ever gotten?
Don´t be eager for power.
Do you have any advice for our readers?
Get to know yourself well and be true to your values.
I hope that you have been inspired by Helena's joy and light!