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Bruna Sève Patko – Class of 1998 is an entrepreneur and works as a fashion accessory designer. Check out our interview with our alumna!
When did you join and leave TBS? Did you graduate from the school? Where did you go to college?
I joined in Infant 1; I believe that was in 1985/86, and I graduated from TBS in 1998. I went to university in Florence and in NYC, at Instituto Polimoda, and The Fashion Institute of Technology.
What professional experiences did you have before becoming a successful fashion accessory designer?
In NYC I had the chance to work at the PR department of Tod’s and in the Sales and Merchandising department of Celine. Then I moved to Budapest where I worked at two Hungarian fashion start-ups called Tisza, a former iconic ex-socialist tennis shoes label, and at Nanushka. I moved away from fashion and went to join a strategic marketing consultancy boutique firm called The Garrison Group, working on projects across Hungary, Poland, Romania and Russia. After working at the Garrison Group, I joined Nike as their marketing director for Hungary.
Your husband is Hungarian and, once married, you lived in Budapest for almost ten years or more. What background did TBS provide that made a difference in this relationship and in your international life experiences?
Having studied at TBS, the school opened my eyes and head to the world. One of the biggest things I learnt at the school was to learn how to think, listen and see things from different perspectives. It sounds so obvious when you say it out loud but the truth is that learning how to see things from different perspectives is a skill that makes us adaptable to different circumstances. The fact that the school always encouraged debates, analysing and discussing topics through different perspectives, made me a more global thinker. With that, being married to a foreigner and living in such a different city like Budapest was putting in practice a lot of the basic life skills that I learnt at the school.
Please describe your business and tell us some of the challenges you face in your daily life as an entrepreneur.
I started LOKALWEAR while living in Budapest. My goal was to create a fashion brand that had sustainability and transparency at its core. I was in love with Hungarian folk art and thought its richness had to be shared and transformed to become more contemporary and wearable. I started to develop a line of contemporary jewellery focused on local production, transparency in production and inspiration, and started developing a network of local suppliers, artisans, retired ladies and people with physical disabilities. The idea was to create beautiful authentic pieces that had the total involvement of the locals and people who were outside of the traditional labour force in its making. With my return to Rio, I brought with me these collections and concepts and started developing new Brazilian collections. The goal is to connect people to places and other people through these accessories. It is like with a pair of earrings you get to discover the northeastern part of Hungary, Pantanal, the Brazilian Savanna and, in turn, you transform traditional crafts and involve the locals in the production, bringing authenticity and stimulating the local economy all at the same time.
The challenges are many. In Brazil, the ecosystem is not favourable for innovation. Every collection we develop involves new raw materials, andn trials and errors which require time and capital. So keeping this ratio between innovation, trial, error, novelty and market time is a constant challenge. The precarious infrastructure and high costs of Brazil is another challenge. Communication is also a challenge. In Hungary my challenges were in making people believe that this crazy idea of revitalizing folk art through fashion accessories was a good idea, whereas here the challenges are with basic service providers and in making sure that all the people involved in our supply chain understand the importance of their work and are committed to deadlines.
Share with us some of your most vivid memories from your days at school.
I still remember my first day at TBS. Sports’ day at the Sitio, Founders’ Day Fêtes, the volleyball and basketball teams competitions, the nurse, Marinalva, who was more than a nurse; her sweetness and how she took care of an entire school was amazing. The trips we went on with the school. The field trips, the history classes, the art classes with Ms. Alba and Ms. Arlete. The openness that the teachers had with the students was very unique. The teachers I had at the school had the skill to be both tough and friendly, with Ms. Carpinteiro being a great example; it is a trait that as I get older I appreciate more and more. At my time the school was small so my memories are of this great extended family. We knew all the teachers and students from a few classes above and below. And, most importantly, the friends I made at the school, many of which are still present in my day-to-day life.
Is there any teacher or subject that had an impact on your career choice?
Yes, Ms. Helida in Infant 2, who always made sure that learning how to read and write was fun and exciting. Ms. Sylvia in class three was very cosmopolitan and would share references from other cultures to our classes, like traditional Mayan songs. Ms. Carpinteiro, my maths teacher, for many years taught me to be analytical, which is something I only realised when I was working with strategic marketing many years later. Ms. Arlete, who encouraged me to pursue my creative side and motivated me to look at artists who expressed themselves through different media and through the use of colour, like Niki de Saint Phalle. Mr Nash and Ms.Eutalia, who had so much passion teaching history that made me a more curious and questioning person. Marco Antonio, the most passionate teacher of them all, who taught me Brazilian history. He would organise field trips with us outside school days, in his own time, to show us the complexity and beauty of our city and country, and Mr. Newman, the most gentlemanly of the gentleman, he was firm but encouraged me constantly.
Do you still keep in touch with classmates? Would you like the school to promote more events for alumni?
Yes, I keep in touch with many of them. It would be great for the school to have some sort of alumni association or database where people could find each other and reach out as well.
In one phrase, what can you say about TBS?
The school encourages you to challenge yourself, giving you responsibility, treating the students with maturity and encouraging long lasting true friendships and respect. I love it.