How a São Paulo-Based Quilter Turned Her Passion into a Business


Jim Magats, SVP, Payments and SMB Segment Solutions

Fabiana Giandoso

Over the past year and a half, as people largely stayed indoors, there was an increase in the number of people turning to creative hobbies to fill their time, de-stress, and find creative outlets during an uncertain time. This trend created opportunities for many small business owners, including the millions of small businesses we work with at PayPal, to reach new audiences and expand their businesses. This month, I’m highlighting Fabiana Giandoso, the co-founder of the São Paulo Modern Quilt Guild, and one of the entrepreneurs whose business grew due to the increase in people adopting new and creative hobbies.

After her first child was born, Fabiana decided to leave her career as a violinist in an orchestra so she could stay home and raise her child. Soon after her child was born, she opened her first online shop, where she sold handmade purses and bags to help pay the bills. However, she quickly realized that her true passion was in quilting, which she had first tried as a young child, and opened her own local quilting studio. When the pandemic caused many in-person businesses to close their doors, she was able to draw from her experience managing an online business to breathe new life into her business and begin teaching online quilting classes to students from around the world.

I recently had the chance to hear from Fabiana about how she adapted her business from in-person to online and expanded her customer base, her future plans for the business, and her advice for aspiring entrepreneurs.

Jim Magats: Tell us about your business and how you started it? When did you start quilting?

Fabiana Giandoso: I started quilting when I was a kid, after stealing a craft magazine from my sister, which had articles about sewing, embroidery, and patchwork. I was hooked, but I never thought about quilting as a career. After having my first child, I decided to focus on being a mom and left my job as a violinist in an orchestra. However, the bills kept coming, so I started making handbags, wallets and pouches and I opened my first online shop in 2008.

I quickly discovered that I wasn’t passionate about making bags and that my dream was to work with quilts, where I could be more creative and tell stories through my work. Through my online shopping, I found out that there were online modern quilting groups and I started to post about modern quilting on my blog and on social media. I started teaching online modern quilting classes and found that I could make quilts full-time. Soon after, I opened my studio where I taught students how to design and make quilts. Brazil doesn’t have a tradition of making quilts, especially modern quilts, but I’m bringing it to Brazil because I’m passionate about helping people tell their stories through patchwork and colors.

JM: How has the pandemic impacted or changed your business?

FG: The pandemic changed everything. Teaching in-person classes was the core part of my business, but when I had to close my studio, I quickly transitioned to teaching online classes to offset any financial challenges. One year later, the pandemic has actually helped my business grow. Before the pandemic, I had just four local students. Now that everything is online, I have almost 30 students across cities, states and countries from Japan to Portugal to the United States. I have also made some changes to my online store, like starting a monthly subscription service for fabric bundles because so many people can’t shop in-person.

JM: You’ve been with PayPal since you started your business. Can you share why? And how has PayPal helped your business?

FG: I’ve been with PayPal since starting my business, and it has really made payments -- for my customers and me -- really easy. I have PayPal Checkout on my website and it’s so fast and safe and customers love it. In Brazil, people don’t always trust making online purchases. But with PayPal, I don’t have this problem. I feel more professional and confident, and my customers feel confident to shop with me and pay with PayPal. I feel like I have a true and trusted partner in PayPal, and that’s why PayPal has been my payment partner for over a decade.

JM: Do you have any advice for other entrepreneurs or people looking to start their own business?

FG: If you’re just starting out, you’ll be wearing all the hats: marketing, product development, shipping, customer service – it’s exhausting. So, it’s important to be patient with yourself, be kind to yourself and have faith that it will all work out in the end.

JM: Many people have picked up artistic hobbies during the pandemic to keep themselves occupied but also for therapeutic purposes. Have you seen this with your business?

FG: Yes! Especially during this challenging time, many people see quilting as therapeutic, a way to express themselves. When you have time to make arts and crafts, it’s personal time for you to reflect on your life, your fears and hopes, while being creative. Oftentimes people don’t have the opportunity or ability to open up to other people about their feelings or what they’re going through, but feel they can share their stories through the quilts they design. For me, making a quilt is about sharing my feelings with future generations.

JM: You create quilt projects to help other people live the experience of telling their stories through patchwork and colors. Can you share more about the stories that quilts tell?

FG: Making a quilt is an undertaking. You choose colors, fabrics, the design – it's personal. You have the opportunity to share your feelings, your personal story. When you put these details in a quilt, you are telling a story about yourself. For instance, during the pandemic, I created quilts that talked about enduring lockdown. But now, I feel that it’s time for me to make a quilt about hope and freedom.

Fabiana Giandoso Quilt

We’ll be publishing another interview with an inspiring PayPal small business owner next month, so be sure to check back in.


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