Veronica Oliveira, former cleaner: “The Brazilian middle class needs tata for everything” | International

Verónica Oliveira, 40, manages to finish few sentences without bursting into laughter. After those laughs and those huge glasses, a hard life that she turned around with creativity. She personifies one of the most traditional and ignored pillars of Brazilian society – the domestic worker – and, at the same time, the strength of that fabulous business that is social networks, where Faxina Boa (good cleaning) hoards half a million followers. He changed the outskirts of São Paulo for the 22nd floor of a tower.

Ask. I see on Instagram that he went by plane with his whole family. Unforgettable, right?

Response. I wanted my children to see my work, so when they invited me to give that conference, I made it a condition to sign the contract that they all come. They accepted. For those who have experienced many needs, it is a moment of great conquest. I was 38 years old when I first flew.

P. It reminded me of that comment from the Minister of Economy…

R. Yes… that “with the dollar low, everyone was going to Disneyland, the maid going to Disneyland, a big party”. Aggggl! What annoyed me the most is that he said that we don’t have to go abroad, but to Foz de Iguaçu. The first time I took a plane was to clean a house in Rio de Janeiro, they sent me the money. It was very funny because I lived in the suburbs and it took me longer to get to the airport than the flight to Rio. It was an event, I cried, I was tense, super emotional.

P. She started cleaning houses as a last resort and it turns out that changed her life.

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P. I never imagined that I would work cleaning houses. And neither, in social networks. I discovered that as a cleaner, I started earning four times more than as a telemarketer. Now sometimes I do an advertising job on Instagram and the brand pays me for two years of telemarketing. Thanks to cleaning, I managed to show my talent. I always liked to write, I won essay contests. I would have liked to be a journalist, a writer, to present the news or MTV.

P. It was offered on its Facebook page to clean houses with ads that made reference to icons of popular culture, from Tarantino to the series of the moment. A hit.

R. The idea for the ads wasn’t even mine! It occurred to a friend. It was a surprise to discover that there was a space to talk about things that others did not talk about. They began to see me before my work. They wanted to meet me and because I work well, I got many clients. I entered more than 200 houses.

P. What would happen if tomorrow the domestic workers do not go to anyone’s house?

R. Oops, people don’t even know where they have things. I usually say that the Brazilian middle class needs tata for everything. They need tata at birth, when they are children, when they are adults. It is a part of the population very accustomed to being served and pampered. But that is not enough for them. They want the person doing the cleaning to listen too. It’s more than a working relationship, it’s almost like family but for the good of the family, not hers.

P. It is very common to hear that it belongs to the family. What is it not?

R. She can’t eat! Or she can sometimes eat what she has left over or a different food. She used to joke that she is part of the family, but below the dog.

P. It’s hard.

R. Much.

P. In Brazil it is usually a job for poor and black women. And a very underrated job around the world.

R. During the pandemic there were many reports of people saying ‘I never washed the dishes, I didn’t know how long it takes to clean, the effort involved’… There are products, such as vacuum cleaners or mops, that they did not buy before because they did not consider them necessary. Because they didn’t clean them. They didn’t want to spend money on it. They considered him pretentious.

P. Years ago, former Norwegian Prime Minister Gro Harme Bruntland told me in an interview that she had no secretary or cleaning lady. That she and her husband cleaned her house. She shocked me.

R. Did you give him time?

P. She was already retired.

R. Oh, because it takes time. It is not uncommon for someone who works as a cleaner to have no time and pay a neighbor money to take care of her children and give the house a thorough cleaning. I started calling someone to clean here when I was nine months pregnant. Someone said ‘the cleaner has a cleaner!’… If I couldn’t get down.

P. And what does your current job consist of?

R. Now I divide my time reasonably in all the things that I need. I have a schedule to read emails, another to be with my daughter, when my son comes home from school I cook dinner, then I have meetings, I record videos, I write scripts, I give conferences, I have published a book.…

P. Did raising your children (22 years old, 13 years old and 11 months old) help you to be an entrepreneur?

R. I found ways to get ahead. There is a lot of creative mind on the periphery. You manage to avoid certain situations more easily than someone who always lived in a noble neighborhood in downtown São Paulo. For example, I have a designer friend, from a structured family and money, who lost his job due to the pandemic. And he stayed waiting to see what he would show up. We cannot allow ourselves the luxury of standing still, waiting for the opportunity to appear, we go out to create. You see it with women from the periphery when they come back from maternity leave and lose their jobs. The girls dedicate themselves to what they know how to do well and it allows them to earn money. They sew, they make cakes…

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