Carolina Furukrona - Nova Bossa

Retailer Highlight: NOVA BOSSA

Could you introduce yourself? 

I’m Carolina Furukrona. I’m the founder and CEO of Nova Bossa, a lifestyle brand where artisanal techniques meet cutting-edge design. We’re 90% Latina owned and we are focused on saving cultural heritage, women’s economic empowerment, and the environment. 


What made you decide to be an entrepreneur?

 I’ve wanted to be an entrepreneur since I can remember. When I was five years old, I used to sell earrings. I’ve worked for the Italian government as a fundraiser for archaeological sites, for the Smithsonian, and then for Rosetta Stone as an executive director for Latin America. When my son was born, I said, “This is the time. I’m going to start my own company.” So, I merged all my loves and experiences and created Nova Bossa.


How do you come up with ideas for your business?

I think it’s an idea that I’ve had since I was little—and throughout my career—but I just couldn’t settle on a specific product, and then I realized I could be a multi-brand retailer and have a lifestyle brand. You just go out and see the most exciting things in the world, then you invest in them. Also, I wanted to show that Latin America is the most exciting region for sustainable design today. It’s doing better couture than Europe, and I think this is a moment for the South (Latin America, Africa, Asia, etc.) as well as where we’re heading in terms of slow fashion and consciousness about the environment and inclusion. 


When did you start your company? 

 I incorporated in 2017. After some time, we were invited to go into La Cosecha. I say that I really opened the company in September 2019. 


What made you choose your store’s location?

Pilar O’Leary, the head of the Smithsonian Latino Center at the time, was consulting for EDENS on the opening of La Cosecha because it’s a Latin focused market. She told me about the project. And I did a pop-up that did very well in Union Market, not knowing that they were considering me for La Cosecha. And so they invited me to go to La Cosecha. But also because at that time, during the previous presidential election, the then current administration was really demonizing the Latino population. And I was like, “Yep, I’m gonna open a store, like a mile and a half from the White House.”


What is your company’s mission?

 My company’s mission is to promote Latin American design to the world. To help preserve traditions and save cultural heritage by bringing these ancestral, centuries-old techniques into the modern era and championing better lives, specifically for women and artisans in rural areas of Latin America. Everything we do comes from those three pillars.


What makes your products unique?

They’re all handmade or handcrafted in some way, with impeccable quality, and made through slow-production processes. Taking techniques that are heritage techniques but making them cutting-edge and fashion forward. So everything is curated like a museum, and the pieces could belong in a museum. But the production is where you really see the value, the quality of the materials. We only work with organic dyes. Even when we work with leather, it’s in a way that respects the environment.


How does your business help your neighborhood or community?

 I think we are really good ambassadors for La Cosecha and for our culture. A part of our sales go to the La Cosecha Foundation, which encourages entrepreneurship through collaboration and education in Latin America. We always support other brands in the area, especially woman-owned brands like Salt & Sundry, Shelter, and Three Littles. We are really a community. We also invest in the LGBTQ community.


What’s a unique fact or thing about your business or fun fact? 

Our name. I found out that it was in DC that the music genre of bossa nova became famous, because of an artist named Charlie Byrd. As a Brazilian American, that connection between DC and Brazil made me believe it was meant to be, and I think “new style” is perfect for us because we are trying to convey a new style.


How would you define your business in three words?

 Legacy. Cutting-edge. Empowerment.


What’s your favorite holiday?

Christmas. I like receiving gifts, but I like gifting more, and I love the decor and making something special and having people over for the festivities. 


What’s the best thing a customer has said to you?

We have a tortilla paper pad, and we opened one up just to see if people could write and test how the paper feels. And I came in one morning and a customer had written, “Lots of hearts to my very favorite store on Earth.” And there were many other super sweet comments there. There’s also one other story that sticks with me: In our first year, an American diplomat came in the night before moving to Paris and said she came one last time for inspiration because this was her favorite store in the world and wanted to say goodbye.


Could you describe your company’s success? Was there a pivotal moment?

Last year, we were featured in the sustainability issue of Vogue Latin America as one of the top stores in sustainability, and in another issue on Latino creatives changing the world. Also, embassies are really noticing the work that we do, and they’re coming to us to talk about the design of countries and have us consider collections from these different countries. 


What would you recommend people buy from your store?

Some of the incredible fashion pieces that are one of a kind, then the furniture pieces and home decor, because these techniques and artisans we’re using are the best of the best; they are true cultural heritage preservation and true museum items. But if I were to choose one item, I would say the Bruja Bucket Bag.