Meet the Founders: Lilian Gabriel Barbosa, the Fashion Designer Behind Oola
By Oola Sports   ·    October 5, 2016    ·    Behind the Scenes, Design

Imagine being the person who makes a team’s visions come to life — at Oola, Lilian Gabriel Barbosa is that person. She is the designer behind each Oola piece!

Lilian, a citizen of Brazil, is a passionate fashion designer and advocate of physical health. In fact, her background is in physical therapy (with a specialization in orthopedics and sports traumatology) and fashion design. Her work at the intersection of fashion and sports makes her the perfect fit to lead Oola’s design team.

As co-founder and fashion designer at Oola, Lilian takes the ideas that co-founders Haya Al Ghanim and Amina Ahmadi bring to the table and turn them into working designs and samples.

The Oola founding story began on Mount Kilimanjaro and started to become a reality when Haya and Amina took their preliminary ideas and drawings to Lilian, who, was at the time, their colleague and friend.

“Haya and Amina shared with me how challenging it could be for them to find the proper outfit for something as simple as exercising outdoors. As a fashion designer, I simply could not accept that, which encouraged me to join the team to find solutions for the problem and help more active women who see sports as the answer for a healthier and happier life wear what makes them comfortable.”
— Lilian Gabriel Barbosa, Oola co-founder and fashion designer

A Brazilian citizen and resident of Vienna, Austria, Lilian embraced the challenge of designing a line of activewear that is loose-fitting and stylish without compromising on sports and fitness performance.

Lilian says she started sketching before even officially joining the team; she was hooked on solving the design problem Haya and Amina brought to her regarding modest sportswear. With that spark of inspiration, Oola was born.

Lilian at a Glance

  • How She Stays Active: Outdoors – swimming, kayaking, standup pedal. Indoors – all kinds of classes, including Pilates and Hot Iron, her favorites!
  • Craziest Adventure: “In less than a decade, I have lived in three continents, five countries, and six cities, having moved into seven different apartments. Some may call it crazy, but I have actually enjoyed it a lot and hope to continue having the opportunity to explore new places, getting to know new cultures and people.”
  • Most Ambitious Goal in Life: Traveling to as many places in the world as possible
  • Proudest Achievement: Having had the courage to change careers to my true passion, design
  • Biggest Fear: Losing my loved ones
  • On Her Playlist: Lately, “Don’t Let Me Down” by The Chainsmokers. Needless to say, it’s part of her workout routine!
  • Her Passions: Fashion design!

On Finding Passion

Lilian Gabriel Barbosa Oola Sportswear Designs

Lilian has a clear and undying passion for design. At the young age of eight, her passion for art was quite evident. From drawing to painting to embroidery, Lilian continued to hone her creative skills, but she didn’t answer her calling in professional design, though, until later in life.

As a physical therapist and clinic owner at the age of 26 in Brazil, Lilian realized that she was more interested in design, drawing, sketching, painting, anything that had to do with art than what she had chosen as her career path.

“I wanted very much to start designing my own dresses, the ideas I had in my head. So, I took a sewing course to learn how to sew. The first time I sat in front of a sewing machine, I could not stop! I had fallen in love! I bought a machine and started to sew everything I could. I had found the thing I loved to do, and I decided it was the path I should follow.”
— Lilian Gabriel Barbosa, Oola co-founder and fashion designer

Lilian took a leap of faith, changing careers, developing her creative design skills. Today, she works every day, creating cutting-edge designs for Oola.

“I have the opportunity to play a role in the entire chain of production, from the designing of our collections, the relationship with the suppliers and monitoring all the manufacturing process,” she says. “On the creative stage of the process, I am responsible for studying trends and sketching the initial designs. To flourish my creativity, I usually attend trade shows and visit manufacturers to choose our fabrics and trims. Once the collection is approved, I am responsible for translating that creative process to our suppliers. The prototypes are then produced. Once ready, I conduct the fittings and adjustments needed in order to assure our pieces are perfectly fitted for our clients.”

If that doesn’t sound like a dream job come true, we don’t know what does!

“Being a part of the Oola team, where the main goal is to excel in sports and fitness, without having to compromise religious and cultural beliefs is very rewarding,” she says. “I love every step of the way, and I hope to continue doing what I love the most for as long as I can.”

When Lilian isn’t working her magic as a designer, she can be found traveling the world. She has called Boston, Chicago, London and Vienna her home in just four years. Lilian loves traveling, cultural exchange, and enjoys running along long stretches of beach wherever and whenever possible. She also teaches Pilates and holds a diploma in Fashion Design from the School of Fashion Design in Boston, Massachusetts.

Lilian is excited to see the launch of the first Oola collection, coming in October 2016!