Galo de Barcelos Motto Guides Açorean Descendant’s Business in Helping the Community During the Time of a Pandemic.
Carla Dias-Correio dos Açores
Atlântico Expresso | August 3, 2020
Goretti Medeiros was unemployed during the pandemic. She had worked as a technical designer and textile engineer for 25 years ago. “Seven years ago, she started the brand Rooster Camisa and started selling t-shirts with "mixed" words between English and Portuguese as a comic way of communicating with community. Then she began to integrate the Galo de Barcelos and a whole variety of things, mainly linked to the kitchen, that have some connection with Portugal. When the pandemic hit, she exclusively dedicated the business to making surgical masks and advanced with other products in the Rooster Camisa brand That advancement includes working together with two other Portuguese descendants, pastry chef Jeremiah Duarte Bills and fadista David Silveira Garcia. In an exciting new era for Rooster Camisa, they will create unique designer pieces.
Goretti Medeiros was born in the United States in Los Angeles, but her parents were born on the island of Faial and emigrated together after the eruption of the Capelinhos Volcano. Her father’s family emigrated first, then her mother’s. The couple originally met at a typical Açorean party and after some time dating, married. The mother was a seamstress and once immigrating, continued to work in sewing industry. And it was by seeing her to devote herself to fabrics and sewing clothing that Goretti Medeiros also began to love this art.
While Goretti was still small, her parents gave her a toy sewing machine and "she was always attached to it’ she says in Portuguese mixed with little mixed with English. Incidentally, despite having a large family "with more than 30 right cousins", I am the only one who speaks Portuguese. The credit for that goes to her father who, when Goretti would get home from school, would be asked to recount her day in English. Her father had great patience and then would ask her to repeat everything in Portuguese because he didn’t understand anything Goretti had said in English. She had to do this every day. This also was the way she spoke with her maternal grandmother who immigrated at 60 years old; she’d say she was going to die and didn’t need to learn English. That grandma lived up to 98 years without ever learning English.
Sewing Since She Was Little
Currently 46 years old "I been sewing over 40 years” but went to school to be designer and make patterns. This later served her well to do work in clothing industry for 25 years. "My job was to design the clothes so they lay on the body well. She worked with other designers’ ideas and made all adjustments so the clothes lay correctly. I also had that make the finished product looked perfect on the body.’ This included working for a swimsuit factory which sold to large chain stores in United States. The company where she worked made bathing suits to reach a thousand stores in the United States. Then along came the Covid-19 pandemic, and everything’s been suspended. "Now we can’t go to the beach, the factory can’t sell swimsuits. In one day, the company lost two million dollars. With the pandemic, people do not go to the shops and so they did not need the person to make swimsuits.
Goretti Medeiros lost her job and although sad, she decided that it was time to devote herself to her other parallel business that has been in existence for seven years, Rooster Camisa.
An online store that originally started to revive the memory of Portugal and the Açores, with shirts and t-shirts with "combined words that join together English and Portuguese, such as the way I talk". Then came some "things but always to make you laugh.
Always with the idea of bringing cheer and smile," she explains, “Rooster Camisa went to various communities and Portuguese festas, with a small booth, where they presented their products to the whole community.”
About a year later, Rooster Camisa started selling more than just shirts and T-shirts when Goretti met with the owner of a factory that makes the colorful roosters related to the legend of the famous Galo de Barcelos. After adding the roosters to the collection, Rooster Camisa also started selling table coverings and aprons. We sell "things we can sell here for the Portuguese community". She then started going to more community gatherings with her nine-year-old son who is already nicknamed "Rooster King", because "when we go to gatherings, he sells more roosters than anyone else". But with the pandemic, going out in the community was stopped. So, this seemed like the right time to expand the business by creating new labels and brands with the Jeremiah and David. Along with staying home to educate her son, Goretti is designing more products and has invested more in the Rooster Shirt brand and in its online store. "I don’t know if this has anything to do with being Portuguese, but I won’t let myself get shot down by this virus. I always go with the car in forward, as my mother used to say.”
Goretti says that, “I will not stay down, I had already lost everything. I could either stand in a corner crying or stand up and help the community and get going.” And that’s what she’s been doing. First, she began to produce masks for those who were on the front line at fighting the pandemic. She designed a mask of fabric with four layers and managed funding to make large donations quantities for those who needed them and to the general public. Rooster Camisa switched to masks being the focus of sales when before of the pandemic, the focus was tablecloths, the aprons and the Galos de Barcelos.
However, the world begins to advance little by little and now the Rooster Camisa products are available in physical stores such as L&F Fish Market, located in Little Portugal, San Jose, and in O Prego in San Diego, CA.
Two Portuguese Celebrities Partner with Rooster Camisa
Two of Rooster Camisa’s brand ambassadors are celebrities in their industries. But now that all communities have had to stop their festivities and struggle with difficulties, Goretti Medeiros began to think of a way to help these societies. Joined two other Portuguese descendants to create new brands with design. Pastry chef Jeremiah Duarte Bills and fado singer David Silveira Garcia are the two celebrities who will help to sell exclusive products. For the Jeremiah Bakes line, Jeremiah Duarte Bills, who participated on the Great American Baking Show, will start with a designer apron that will then be marketed on the website Rooster Camisa. For fadista David Silveira Garcia, the brand will have designer items that symbolize the Portuguese culture.
Then, says Goretti Medeiros, there will be place also to directly help organizations that spread Portuguese and Açorean culture which will have to close because they are without any income (due to the pandemic). In the future, for example, we’ll have a travel mug with logos of the organization. Now that everything is drive-thru, these items are more desirable than ever.
“For those organizations that need to raise funds. Rooster Camisa will create the product and the organizations will buy it at our cost. They can then sell them at fundraisers.” They earn some money and this work is Rooster Camisa’s way of giving back to the community for the wonderful support it has received.
This technical designer and textile engineer is now working full-time at Rooster Camisa and hopes to continue to live only on this brand that was created with so much love and with a community where five people work like a big family. Goretti looks forward to getting in with more stores, to have more orders and be able to follow the dream of living only Rooster Camisa.