Doing the Leg work


When Marcos Pulvirenti and his wife Danielle immigrated to Ottawa from Brazil in May, they noticed a lot of differences from their home country. “There was so much snow!” Pulvirenti said, whose first time driving in winter just happened to be during the record breaking snowfall of the season.

While settling in Ottawa and studying English at Algonquin College, Pulvirenti decided to go to the gym across from his home. He noticed women tended to wear black to exercise. “I started to pay attention. In Brazil, black is for funerals. Canadians love black and I thought ‘there’s an opportunity!’ Where’s the colour?” Pulvirenti says. “That’s how I started, by going to the gym and just looking around and talking with people. Life is about talking. If you talk to someone, you can hear opportunities. Just pay attention.”

He has a friend in Brazil who produces and sells colourful leggings. “I called him to see if he wanted to partner with me and he sent me some free samples,” Pulvirenti says. He set up a website quickly and started ALL4.FIT – Sexy and Confident Sports Apparel, a company that sells colourful exercise clothing.

He enrolled in Algonquin’s business management and entrepreneurship program, hoping to use the company as a part time job. “When I started school, the teacher said that one of the assignments was to build a company. It was already set up,” he says.

His wife is an important part of the business. “She provides support by contacting customers and suppliers, on the wording of phrases on our web posts, plus she’s diplomatic with the customers. I’m more direct,” Pulvirenti says.


“I met Marcos through the AC Market, in the Student Commons,” says Kurt Goebel, manager of Connections, the campus store at Algonquin. The AC Market gives full and part-time Algonquin students and alumni the chance to showcase their products and services. “He came in to the store to ask to borrow a rack to display his clothing. Now he has a small section inside the store,” Goebel says. Pulvirenti keeps up the inventory on his own. “It fit in with our core demographic of students and people aged 17 – 24,” Goebel adds. “It’s always nice to support students and to give back.”

“Colour is happiness, confidence, self-esteem. When I went into the business I decided ‘I’m going to sell confidence’. When you wear clothing like that, you feel it,” Pulvirenti says. “So when you ask me what I’m selling, I’m selling confidence. I’m selling self-esteem. That’s my company. That’s my idea. We are learning all the time – learning how to drive right now – that’s amazing!”

Pulvirenti likens the risk of learning to drive differently in snowy conditions to starting a new business. “That’s the challenge. You have to love managing the risk of owning your own company. I’m always learning and adapting to know how to conduct the business,” he says. “The rules here are different from Brazil. It’s easy to start a business here. Get the idea, put it into practice but be prepared for the worst. I confirm with people and my teachers that I’m on the right track.”

When asked for advice he says “I never take ‘no’ as a ‘no’, it’s always a ‘not yet’. It’s food for my ‘machina’, fuel for my ‘machine’,” Pulvirenti adds. “I always ask them ‘Why did you say no? Why don’t you want to buy?’ When I get those answers my business changes”.

As for driving in the snow? “I did it just that one time. There’s too much snow and for now I’m walking,” Pulvirenti says. “But ‘not yet’. I never give up. Giving up is a word I don’t like.”