So you’re probably wondering, how did Dona Jo really start? You’re probably thinking how did two 20-somethings start a fashion-forward athletic apparel line out of their apartment in Pittsburgh (Go Steelers!)? It’s truly amazing how everything happens for a reason and our story is a true testimony of this. We encourage you to pay attention to all the blessings in your life – we followed our gut and are now enjoying this crazy and rewarding ride!!
Sports are our backbone – I was the swimming superstar while Rapha was the tennis pro. I began competitively swimming at 6 years old - the water was where I felt alive! Rapha stumbled upon tennis, at the age of 10, after a horrible accident where he almost lost his hand. Tennis was initially his physical therapy and later became much more than that.

 

In 2007 I decided what better place to go to college than Florida – beach, sunshine and fun. I was accepted by Florida Gulf Coast University where I studied Marketing and swam for their Division I team. At the same time, Rapha was putting his tennis career on hold while focusing on college in Brazil. He also began working at the most fashionable sportswear line in Brazil. He learned a lot about fitting, high-end fashion and branding.


It was in 2008 that life really threw Rapha a curve. He was offered a scholarship to play Division I tennis at FGCU, aka Dunk City. He met me and we fell in love. Our backgrounds were VERY different, but we had the same beliefs and interests.

Rapha and I went to Brazil a few times, and I fell in love with the vibrant culture, hippie chicstyle and free spirited Brazilians. When we graduated, we both got jobs in our area of expertise. I worked at a marketing agency and Rapha works at a management consulting firm. We are always so thankful for everything we accomplish in our lives. Until this day, we dedicate 20 minutes to being thankful for everything in our life!

Although we had great jobs, we still wanted to change the world!! We started brainstorming ideas that shaped our dream into reality. It took a while before I realized that we just needed to combine our passion for sports and fashion to create the most fashionable sportswear. I remember when Rapha asked me: how can we change the world designing sportswear? I told him we would create a community of active, healthy, and fashion-forward individuals who express themselves in a fun and stylish way.

Some people ask about the name Dona Jo. Trust me, we lost many nights of sleep trying to come up with a name to symbolize our vision. One day, in a Skype conversation between Rapha and his grandparents, I heard his grandpa say Dona Jo (which is Rapha’s grandma’s nickname). At that point I knew we found the name. We communicated the name to the rest of the team and everyone loved it too. Rapha’s grandma has been a mentor since the beginning of the business, and she is the perfect symbol of the Dona Jo woman: strong, influential, fashionable, healthy and active!

As I’m thinking about the accomplishments of our business, we couldn’t be happier with the results. We are so lucky to have an awesome team of the most talented seamstress and designers. Our purpose is to change women’s lives by following Dona Jo’s lifestyle, and we promise to always work hard to keep this vision alive. Our Jo Jo’s will see it translated into each beautiful piece we create. If you are active, healthy, fashionable, and love the world you are Dona Jo style.