LEOMINSTER — Businesswoman Vinda Pedrosa is not only living her best life, she is fully committed to helping those less fortunate along her life path as a way to honor her humble roots.
The hardworking female entrepreneur recently opened her third business in the Twin Cities, community sewing center Vinda’s Closet in Leominster. A ribbon cutting ceremony to mark the occasion was held on Feb. 17 at the 285 Central St. shop that offers custom tailoring and sewing services as well as free sewing lessons and eventually down the road, English lessons.
“I want the new generation learning how to sew, keep traditions going,” Pedrosa said of the inspiration behind offering complimentary sewing lessons to the community.
Pedrosa was born in Brazil as one of ten siblings. She grew up in poverty and remembers people helping her family with clothing and food.
“I came from a very big family,” she said.
When her father died when she was 11, she “started working early to help my family because we were very poor, and every cent counted. I couldn’t afford yogurt or other foods. We only had the basics.”
She took her first sewing lesson as a teenager, stating that in her home country it is the norm for “girls to learn how to cook and sew.”
It was there that she also started helping to feed the poor, a mission she continues to this day. She recently sent $450 to Mozambique, a southern African nation, “to help buy food to give to the hungry,” and has sent monetary aid to other spots around the world that struggle with food insecurity.
“Here we have everything, there they have nothing,” the humanitarian said. “It is my pleasure to help people. I know what it meant to me to get clothes or a bag of food. I know I can’t do much, but what I can I want to continue doing.”
She and her husband of 38 years immigrated to the U.S. in 1999 “with three dollars in our pockets.” A childhood friend living in Hudson offered a place for them to stay for a couple weeks and then they lived with family for a short time.
Three days after they arrived her husband got a job at Honey Dew Donuts and they were able to save enough money to rent an apartment in their new home city, where they have been residents ever since. They have three children together, two boys now in their 30s and a 17-year-old daughter.
Pedrosa opened her first shop, Vinda’s Tailoring, off downtown Leominster in 2003 and a second shop, Prime Thread, in Fitchburg before the pandemic. When they had to close down the stores during the COVID-19 shutdown of businesses she, along with help from “several seamstresses,” sewed thousands upon thousands of custom cloth masks to donate to local hospitals and nursing homes.
“We could not find fabric, people brought us scraps of fabric,” she recalled about those challenging times.
Now on the other side of all that, Pedrosa said “everything is going great” with her businesses and is continuing to give back how she can.
“I am living the American dream,” she proudly shared.
Pedrosa already has some willing volunteers in her team, members of her own circle and the community, and welcomes others to help provide free sewing lessons to “whoever wants some” — and with making washable pants to send to children in Africa.
“They call this a luxury,” she said of the clothing garments a Leominster woman who travels to Africa to help children in need brings for Pedrosa along with food to distribute.
She invites people of all ages to visit Vinda’s Closet to learn how to sew and help others learn and conveyed that they are looking for donations of fabrics, scraps, supplies, and sewing machines people “are no longer using.”
“As people step up to volunteer, we can help others,” Pedrosa imparted. “For me, it matters a lot because a lot of people are looking for something to fulfill them. We can give them the opportunity to do that. Because sewing, if you don’t know, it is like therapy. For me, it is a community thing.”
She said sewing can be beneficial for those suffering from dementia and that she wants to help people learn to “just put the pieces together and sew.”
“If you want to come and sew you are going to be welcome to do it. If you don’t have a sewing machine at home, you can use ours.”
Pedrosa wants to teach “high schoolers how to modify their jackets and clothing and make unique items.”
“They can come to Vinda’s Closet to make custom made dresses,” she said, adding that they “have some already made.”
All three of her shops offer full-service tailoring, specializing in women’s formal wear such as wedding gowns and prom dresses. With the busy prom season up on her, Pedrosa said most days she can be found at Vinda’s Tailoring doing dress fittings and alterations.
She said that the more people they get who are willing to step up and help out at Vinda’s Closet, the more they can do for the local and global communities.
“If we have the volunteers, we can do a lot of things to raise money, feed the poor, make bibs for people at nursing homes,” Pedrosa said, which demonstrates the epitome of her altruistic nature. “If we get the volunteers, we can have an English class in the evenings.”
She has plans to continue to donate to Ginny’s Helping Hand, her business neighbor next to her first shop, and said that she has big plans for the future.
“We are going to have a lot of projects open to the community and are going to have a fashion show to benefit world hunger.”
Pedrosa said it has been her mission to help feed the poor for many years now — and that she feels fortunate to be in a position to continue doing this.
“A lot of kids around the world are in need. The thing I love about helping is that puts a smile on a kid’s face. I remember when my aunt came from Rio de Janeiro, she would bring us bags of clothes. I can remember how pretty the dresses were and how it made me feel. I wanted to do that for kids, to make them happy. Every kid needs clothing and food to eat.”
When asked what motivates her to do good, Pedrosa didn’t hesitate to talk about her own experience growing up poor and food insecure and how that shaped her into who she is today.
“I am thrilled because I had a vision that emerged from the ground up,” she said of how her own success has enabled her to give back. “If you ask Vinda what makes me happy, I would say helping people.”