Interview in The Portuguese Tribune https://www.portuguesetribune.com/pageview/viewer/2020-02-01#page=14
- Tell us about herself.
My name is Liliana Sousa-Downs. My parents were immigrants from Terceira, Acores. I went to the Fashion Institute of Design and Merchandising Los Angeles. I have worked in the fashion industry for over twenty-eight years as an event coordinator, fashion show stylist, personal stylist, show host and in management in addition to helping with our family businesses. I am the owner of Liliana Downtown, Boutique and Fashion Concierge.
2. Share with us a story about your father’s Ganadaria Pico dos Padres.
I was very young when my father began his ganadaria. My biggest joy at the time was sitting in the back of the pickup truck as it drove up and down the hills yelling, “Faster! Faster on the roller coaster!” I didn’t understand the undertaking our whole family was taking at the time. As years passed, we all worked very hard in making every event a success. My jobs were Event Production, Operations Manager and Esthetics. I could not control how the bulls or bullfighters performed in the arena so I tried to make sure each bullfight ran smoothly and the horses and bandidillas were beautiful. There are so many crazy stories behind the scenes from inflated egos, to drunks, con-artists and even death threats. However, there were even greater moments with talented artists and performances, curro de toiros that could represent in any arena of honor, meeting people from all over the world, friends and family that would stand by your side through it all, and much appreciation for creating an experience that brought our culture together within many generations. At the core of it all was passion, tenacity, hard work and love.
3. What you miss most about those days?
I miss the breakfasts the day after a bullfight. Everyone waited nervously for my father’s opinion on the performances and he had no problem detailing his disappointment if he wasn’t pleased. We called it, “Getting a Ticket,” you received a verbal ticket at breakfast when things were not to his standards. Nevertheless, the breakdown of each bull was so insightful and spot-on that we all left the table feeling we had received a life lesson, and we did.
4. Going back to the 100th Anniversary of the Festa of Turlock, what was your inspiration to plan its anniversary bullfight?
It started with a fantastic committee and community that were dedicated to making the TPA 100th Anniversary special. I had seen the Corrida’s de Gala in Portugal, and with my connections to the bullfight world I thought, maybe, we could pull it off. The committee’s altruistic energy was contagious and pushed every event for that year to be better than expected. People who weren’t even Portuguese were volunteering their time to be part of something they had never seen. We have a beautiful culture rich with artistry but what is so magnificent is how we come together to showcase our rituals, young and old. It was a humbling experience, I feel we were blessed in many ways and the end result was beautiful.
5. What was your idea behind Liliana Downtown?
After working many years in the fashion industry I wanted to turn my passion into a business. My husband and I were looking for something to do together, I am the creative one and he handles logistics, it’s teamwork.
Fashion is fun for me however, I understand it can be stressful for many people and I want to make feeling your best easy. One of my biggest requests as a stylist is dresses. You will find many dresses here that can transition from day-to-night, season-to-season and year-to-year. The cuts and fabrics are meant to be classic. We keep a selection of shapes and sizes but if we do not have your size we can usually get it in within a few days and as fashion concierges we can also help complete your look or give assistance with your wardrobe. We also carry separates, accessories and some home specialty items.
6. What is your vision for the business ?
We love the idea of a boutique where you can actually feel the fabrics, try things on and be able to get advice from an expert, but brick and mortar businesses are disappearing rapidly so an online presence is vital to survival. You can shop online as well from the comfort of your home at lilianadowntown.com. We love the interaction with customers and the idea that someone across the world could buy something that we curate is exciting! On the website I will give insights, tutorials and keep customers looped in to fashion events. We are also Fashion Concierges so we can help you with fashion advice inside or outside the boutique. We're hoping this business can be a platform for many creative people to express themselves.
7. What’s the reason for your choice of location in downtown Modesto?
I used to shop here with my mom when I was young and thought it was so fancy, the kids these days say “Bougie.” Downtown Modesto is on the verge of being a Central Valley destination again with the proximity to great restaurants, lounges, bars, art galleries, theaters and shopping. The brands we carry you would only find in some major cities and Modesto is a great alternative to traveling to San Francisco or Los Angeles.
8. What else would you like to share with our readers?
We love what we do here! This has been a dream of mine for many years and it gives me so much joy to come to work everyday. My father poured his heart into his passions and taught us to do the same. Come check out the boutique with hydrangea nods to our culture and shop with us online.
Thank you for your support.
1525 J Street, Modesto