She is the multi-millionaire founding father of certainly one of Brazil’s hottest chains of cake retailers, however there may be nothing candy in regards to the starting of her life story.
Now 51, Cleusa Maria did not have the possibility to be a baby.
When she was 9 years outdated, she was far more acquainted with hoes and rakes than with dolls.
She had a grown-up routine, serving to her father day-after-day on the small farm they rented within the countryside of Sao Paulo state, in south japanese Brazil.
That was till her dad died in a automobile accident in 1978 when she was 12 years outdated.
“That’s once I came upon that what was unhealthy, could possibly be worse,” Cleusa says.
Her mom was immediately a single mother or father with 10 kids to take care of, and with little or no cash all of them needed to transfer into Cleusa’s grandmother’s home.
“My mom and I have been [now] the breadwinners,” says Cleusa trying again. “I felt it was my duty to assist my mom elevate my 9 [younger] siblings.”
And so, she and her mum each turned discipline staff, slicing sugarcane with machetes at farms of their a part of Sao Paulo state. Their 10-hour shifts began day-after-day earlier than dawn.
Quick-forward to 2017 and Cleusa now has a life unimaginable to her former teenage self, who labored as a farm labourer for 5 years.
As a substitute of toiling in fields below Brazil’s scorching solar, she is at this time the self-made boss of Sodie Doces, a sequence of cake shops with 300 shops throughout Brazil, and an annual turnover of greater than 200m reais ($63m; £49m).
The journey in the direction of Sodie Doces began when a 17-year-old Cleusa determined that she wasn’t going to spend the remainder of her life working within the fields. As a substitute she was going to gamble on altering her life fully.
So she left the countryside and moved to Sao Paulo metropolis, the most important in Brazil, the place she turned a maid.
It was a very new world, but it surely wasn’t simple both. Cleusa needed to stay at her employer’s house, and solely had two days off every month. And all her wage was despatched to her mom, who was nonetheless engaged on farms.
“I went from one excessive to a different one,” says Cleusa. “I left a two-room home to stay with a wealthy household. There have been 9 servants for 3 folks.
“However that life introduced out the nonconformist in me. I mentioned to myself ‘why did I’ve to eat totally different meals to the household? Why did I’ve to fill their glasses whereas they have been consuming?’.”
She quickly determined to once more forge a unique path for herself, signing up for an grownup training course to get the training she missed out on as a baby, and getting a job as a receptionist.
But additionally eager to be nearer her mom, she determined to maneuver again to their a part of Sao Paulo state, and began working in a manufacturing unit that made hi-fi tools.
Then, in 1995, she obtained an uncommon request from her boss’s spouse that might change her life – she wished Cleusa to bake a 35kg birthday cake.
“My boss’s spouse used to promote truffles, however that day she broke her leg, says Cleusa. “I had no concept tips on how to bake, however she gave me all of the directions and it labored out.”
Her boss’ spouse was delighted with the outcome and insisted that Cleusa had a present that could not be ignored.
She purchased Cleusa a mixer and located her extra shoppers.
By then Cleusa was divorced with a small daughter, working through the day on the manufacturing unit and spending her nights baking.
Two years later, she resigned from her job and, with the assistance of certainly one of her brothers, opened a small store that she referred to as Sensacoes Doces, which implies Candy Issues in English.
The next years have been stuffed with exhausting work, however inside a decade Cleusa owned 4 cake retailers.
As soon as once more, somebody believed that she may do extra. Certainly one of her clients insisted that her firm ought to increase by promoting off franchisees.
“I had no concept what a franchise was,” says Cleusa. “However this shopper endured, speaking about it for a complete 12 months.
“So I took a course in Sao Paulo to know the enterprise mannequin, and determined to turn into a franchisor. That buyer turned our first franchisee, and in lower than two years we had greater than 50 new retailers.”
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After opening her 74th franchise, Cleusa hit a stumbling block when she came upon that her firm identify, Sensacoes Doces, was already registered by the meals large Nestle.
She says: “It was going to be a combat I could not win. I spent 4 months with out sleep, making an attempt to determine what to do.”
As a substitute of making an attempt to maintain the identify Sensacoes Doces, she got here up with the agency’s new moniker – Sodie Doces (Candy Sodie) – by mixing her kids’s names, Sofia and Diego.
After that, Cleusa despatched new logos to all her franchisees, and paid for any alterations out of her personal pocket.
Because of this, Sodie Doces did not flip a revenue for the following 4 years, however the agency “stored its credibility and did not shut a single store”, she says.
Twenty years after opening her first retailer, Cleusa now has 300 shops in 13 states in Brazil. The costs of her truffles vary from about 43 reais (£10.30) to 74 reais.
To open a Sodie Doces outlet, franchisees should make investments round 400,000 reais, and every store hires as much as 15 staff.
Based on Luis Henrique Stockler, an skilled on the Brazilian franchising sector, Sodie Doces has “handed all of the market assessments” thrown its method.
Cleusa says: “I had two desires in my life. The primary one was to take my mom away from the sugarcane fields, and the second was that my kids by no means ended up doing that work.
“I used to be afraid once we began rising so quick that I did not have sufficient expertise and will lose the cash I invested.
“However in some unspecified time in the future I realised that every thing was going fantastic, and that I ought to be glad about getting to date.”