Carolina Giraldo’s story is a true inspiration. She was born and raised in Manizales, Colombia, and an early age her heart was set on owning her own business. Her parents, both successful career doctors, taught Carolina you need to work hard in life to attain your dreams.
By grade two she was earning pocket money selling artwork to neighbours and family. Later she sold baked cookies and chocolates. In high school she recruited her parents’ and grandmother’s housekeepers to assist on her now-successful
baking business, matching their present salaries.
Despite not speaking English and never having held a “real” job, Carolina bought a one-way ticket to Sydney, Australia. Six months turned into 18 months. Working odd jobs in order to stay in Australia on a student visa, she enrolled in a Bachelor of Business at UTS, and later a Masters of Business Management.
“Between studying in my still broken English and working any job I could get my hands on, I was exhausted. I loved that in Australia, if you worked hard, you could achieve whatever you set your mind to, in contrast to Colombia where it’s more about your connections than anything else. I was determined to do whatever I could to realise my dream of having my own business.”
Returning to Colombia, she met with a seamstress who had made clothes for her during childhood, asking her to make a small range of handbags and belts which she had designed.
Back in Australia, Carolina sold them to boutiques on consignment. After many years of expanding her bricks and mortar business and retail stores, the arrival of COVID-19 made Carolina realise her empire needed to shift its reliance from bricks-and-mortar retail.
Carolina flipped her 80 percent bricks-and-mortar retail business to an 80 percent online retail business, with sales soaring 150 percent.
“The pandemic really forced me to future-proof my business, and in that sense, I’m grateful. I know now that we’re in a much better place now to continue to produce beautifully designed, thoughtfully crafted garments, leatherwares and accessories that our customers love, no matter what the world throws at us!”
Carolina’s approach to design is simple – create a garment with love, by craftspeople who love what they do, using only the highest quality materials, and the rest will follow. We find out how this busy founder spends her weekend.
With my husband and I both working on different businesses, the working week can be very busy so, Friday nights are our family night. We make it a point to sit down with the kids and talk about what’s happened during the week.
We order pizza (the kids’ favourite meal) and have a relaxed dinner where we all talk about the highs and lows of our week, and most importantly- what we’re grateful for. It’s super chilled and relaxed and allows us to spend time as a family. No phones, no TV, no screens at all. We all look forward to it!
In the morning we have a FaceTime marathon with our family overseas! All my family is in Colombia and my kids and husband are very close to them. Even though we talk during the week, Saturday mornings are when there is no limit to how long we can chat, so we talk about everything! This is my favourite part of the week, I love watching the kids interact with my family.
After our FaceTime marathon, we catch up with family friends and their kids. My husband and I have been lucky enough to build a network of friends that are like family, so every weekend we get together and watch the kids play. At this point in my life, time is very precious and being able to multitask is key.
Our priority is the kids during the weekend but being able to see our friends and nurture those relationships at the same time is important for us too. I love to see my friends and their kids. The kids are growing up together like cousins and it’s amazing to watch 🙂
We love going out for dinner and trying new things! Whether it’s Japanese or Italian, we bill Saturday nights as ‘Adventure’ night for the kids. Even when we don’t go out, we’ll still order takeaway from a nice restaurant in our area and try to teach the kids something about the culture of the place the cuisine is from.
Most Sundays we tend to have people over at our place for lunch and that normally extends into the night. I love hosting my friends. Sometimes we have a simple BBQ, other times we’ll have everyone bring a dish- it’s just an excuse to get everyone together. We love spending as much time as we can with friends.
This is our quiet night of the week. After everyone’s gone home, we clean up and make sure whatever the kids need for the week is sorted. Because my husband and I both run different businesses, the rest of the evening is spent preparing for the craziness of the new week, so we can kick-start the working week as organised as possible.
Visit the Carolina Lifestyle website here or connect on Instagram @carolinalifestylelabel