My Unique Grandmother: aka how to actually be outside of the box

By Ana Roselli

 Hellenice Falqueiro Roselli (Grandma Lelê)

Hellenice Falqueiro Roselli (Grandma Lelê)

Hello, I’m Ana Roselli, here at Charles Communications Associates for a fellowship as I earn my MBA here in San Francisco at Hult International Business School.  I am focusing on Corporate Social Responsibility, naturally a good fit for the practice here. I’m from Rio de Janeiro Brazil and as part of the CCA team, we like to share with each other those individuals who have been an inspiration to us in life.  For that reason, this blog is dedicated to a woman who has helped shaped my path in life. 

Hellenice Falqueiro Roselli, or for her grandkids, Grandma Lelê, is now in her late 70s but has a lifelong accounting of entrepreneurial adventures.  She is a mother to 4 boys, a grandmother to 8 grandchildren, a yoga teacher and spiritual guide, an inn owner and manager to her staff, a leader in her community and an inspiration to all the fortunate folks who get the chance to meet her. My grandmother is a great entrepreneur and I would never expect to walk into her house (actually her inn) and find her doing crochet.  No offense to those who knit!

 

 

 The exterior view of a guest room

The exterior view of a guest room

When Hellenice became a widow in the 90’s, she had been living in the big metropolis of São Paulo where she was a yoga instructor. But one day the stresses of the big city got to her and she threw everything up in the air and decided that it was time to move to the family’s country house in the interior of the state of São Paulo, in between the cities of Nazaré Paulista and Piracaia. There, in the middle of the forest, with no access to phone or television, where roads were still built out of clay, and with an amazing view of one of the biggest water reservoirs in the state, the Cantareira System (pictured below), she decided to open a business by herself at the age of sixty.

 View from the Inn overlooking the lush valley of the Cantareira System

View from the Inn overlooking the lush valley of the Cantareira System

 View of the guest pool on a sunny day

View of the guest pool on a sunny day

Slowly, room by room, chalet by chalet, the Figueira Grande Inn, (please use Google Translator as the website is only available in Portuguese) became a reality. Figueira Grande means the big Fig Tree, a tribute to a big tree that dominates the estate. Hellenice never quit teaching yoga, having both a studio in the city of Piracaia and in the inn. All the food there is organic and a lot of it is actually cultivated in the property itself. She loves to cook, and the food served to the guests is prepared in a wood-fired oven. It is impossible to go there and not put on some weight. But trust me, it is all worth it!

Brazil is full of these small hidden corners of beauty. Besides the internationally known attractions, like Rio de Janeiro or the beaches in the Northeast, this huge country has a lot to showcase. Its size allows for many climates and ecosystems to coexist and give life to hundreds of cultural manifestations. The Pousada Figueira Grande in its Cantareira niche is only one of them.

On top of it all, my grandmother is also trying to implement the Bhutanese concept of Gross National Happiness in the community surrounding the inn. The new metrics system argues that well-being cannot be measured solely by economic values anymore: “poor” people are happy. It all begun when she met a Bhutanese Minister at a conference and got invited to actually fly to Bhutan, where she had an interesting meeting with the Queen herself. Only one of her many exotic adventures.

An Italian descendant, Hellenice fought to attend university as an English major when women were still being raised to be housewives; she was a political activist; she raised a family; she was an English teacher; she had her own toy company; she had her own interior design company; she became a yoga teacher and opened her own school (twice); and she transformed an old family country house into a profitable inn in São Paulo, Brazil. What’s next? I don’t know but I dare say there is still more to come! I only hope to follow in her footsteps as the next generation entrepreneur.


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