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#UpWithHer: Children's clothing designer credits social responsibility for scaling success

To make a bigger impact, Catalina Gonzalez took an intentional step back to adjust her business model and clearly define her company’s core values.

DALLAS — A North Texas mom’s mission to give back has transformed into a thriving business. Catalina Gonzalez has been dedicated to helping women out of poverty through her children’s clothing brand.  

Children’s clothing store Dondolo is pastel perfection. Handsewn details in every design, owner Catalina Gonzalez says her clothes are made for making memories.  

Two decades ago, she moved from Colombia to attend Southern Methodist University.  

“Every time I went back for vacations, I just saw this level of poverty that just shocked me every time. I got used to living here and then I went back there, and I was so shocked by it,” said Gonzalez. 

After her first son was born, Gonzalez combined her love for fashion and her home country to create a luxury kid’s clothing line.  

“At that time TOMS was huge so, I was inspired by that, and I was like if I sell one and I give one and then it became complicated because I truly was selling once a month, one thing to a person I knew so, I wanted to give more,” said Gonzalez.  

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Gonzalez's gifts turned into full-time work for some of those same women in Colombia, through an ethical manufacturing chain.

"Everything is manufactured in Colombia,” said Gonzalez.  

To make a bigger impact, she took an intentional step back to adjust her business model and clearly define her company’s core values.  

“Who to hire, how to establish a team that relates and actually follows the values of the brand. I’ve been able because of them to kind of organize my life a little bit better and to trust them,” said Gonzalez.  

Scaling a company means letting go of control and it has allowed Gonzalez to have more time with her four boys.  

"I’m having sometimes business meetings in the car with all of them in the back and they know that I am busy but I’m with them,” said Gonzalez.  

Because she knows they’re watching and she wants her kids to see how to balance work and life.  

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"I kind of go with the flow like if it doesn’t happen this way, I’m OK with this way and God knows. All my employees know that we need to be flexible because we’re working with all our things coming from another country, most of our fabrics come from another country in Europe. So, all the pieces, customs, shipping, all those pieces are outside of our hands,” said Gonzales.  

What is in her control, empowering her team and guiding the company’s vision.   

"At the end of the day we’re all selling beautiful children’s and women’s clothes to make happy memories so, reminding myself of that was life-changing and business changing that our purpose is love and bringing joy and happiness to families and not competing in who sells more,” said Gonzalez.

After a trial run in a retail location, Gonzalez decided to focus on e-commerce and open a permanent space at Dondolo’s office and warehouse in the Design District. She is also working on a new baby and home design line. 

As Dondolo Gives grows, she says she hopes to build a community center for women and their families in Cartagena, Colombia. Gonzalez also gives back to female-focused nonprofits in Dallas.