May 9, 2014

Go-Getter Spotlight: Fashion Designer Alicia Reina


"Don’t be disillusioned by the big competition if they can make it so can you.  "
                                                                                                                      -Alicia Reina




After getting her feet wet in the fashion industry working alongside other designers, Alicia Reina decided to take the plunge and launch her own clothing line. 
She shares her journey with us and leaves us with some great advice regarding pursuing our goals.








P+S: Tell me a little bit about yourself.
AR: I was born in an island in the sun (san juan, Puerto Rico) and moved to the Boston area in my early years aka 5 years old.  I was raised in a very latin house hold only speaking Spanish at home in a very American suburb called Natick.  Splitting my time between PR and Boston I was very much influenced by the differences in culture and language.  In Puerto Rico I was known as Tati and only spoke Spanish and in Natick I was known as Alicia and only spoke English. You can only imagine the confusion!  But now I reside in Bushwick a neighborhood of Brooklyn where I get an influx of both.  I am a lover of culture and of people; of understanding why things are what they are and how they came to be hence why I observe and construct things.  Color and pattern are a big attraction for me, whether on clothing, in architecture, nature etc it is a variable that dictates my design aesthetic and what I do and it has always been something I was drawn to at a very early age. 
P+S: When did your interest for fashion design start?
AR: Ever since I was introduced to puff paints and sequins in the early 90’s.  I always had some craft project going and there was ALWAYS a hot glue gun plugged in somewhere.  (Flash forward to art school and I am pretty sure I did 98% of my projects with a hot glue gun!) There was this innate love to be an observer of the world and create on my own terms.  I fell in love with fabrics at a very early age.  My Cuban grandmother had a taste for clothes and décor and boy did she have the most beautiful lavish collection of lace 2 pieces suits and jewelry!  Spending many a summers in PR with her and being surrounded by all the things she loved and cherished further instilled my fascination with fabrics and construction. 

P+S: What motivated you to launch this line? How did it all start and how has it evolved since the launch?
AR: I have always wanted to have my own line.  Interning for various young designers furthered the itch to start.  I have always wanted to be my own boss and do things on my own terms and vision.  A lot of times now you see designers that have to compromise a vision for their stock holders and selling reports and although those are crucial elements for a business to thrive it should not be the driving force behind creativity.  I wanted to create something that was accessible that told a story and had some substance to it; for the product to be just as enticing as the actual story behind its fruition.   

P+S: How would you describe the style of your designs? 
AR: My style is feminine, somewhat eclectic with sophisticated cuts that accentuate the geometry of the body. I have always been really into anatomy and the physiology of the human body and that has a lot to do with the construction and methodology of the designs. I think that understanding the way a woman is, wants to feel, and project her self plays into the story that is to be told. I tend to stay away from black as my mother always told me you can wear black when your dead or over 50 so as not to take myself too seriously, hence my appreciation for color! 


                                                                                 


P+S: What inspires your work?
AR: I would say quality and complex design whether it be surface or engineered into the clothing.  I tend to be inspired by fabrics and colors and that is usually where I start when designing a collection.

P+S: Did you find that learning all the nuts and bolts of putting together a clothing line difficult? If so how did you get over the hurdles?
AR: I would say that starting ones own business is a different version of getting a masters in business administration. There are many frustrations and a big learning curve especially when coming from an artist/designer background. But being perseverant and not afraid to ask questions or put yourself out there has proven to be effective in overcoming difficult times and decisions.

P+S: What gave you the strength to keep going when faced with challenges?
AR: The support I have from family and friends and my endless passion and love for what I do.  Always knowing that tomorrow is another day!

P+S: How do you balance the creative and business side of running your own business?
AR: I try to reserve enough time to manage both.  Keeping a constant schedule helps to manage the many facets of running a business.

P+S: What have been some of your accomplishments so far?
AR: Pretty much everything has been exciting since it is all new to me, but I would say getting some great press and interviews such as this one as well as listening to people’s response about the collections! The first time I got accepted to sell at a store and selling the first piece was one of the biggest accomplishments. 

P+S: What do you think has been most instrumental to your success?
AR: A positive attitude and surrounding oneself with like minded people who believe in you and themselves.

P+S: What’s the best part about launching this line?
AR: Knowing that you are able to do things on your terms and follow through with a vision. Fashion is such a saturated industry, that people tend to loose their priorities when caught up in the chaos of it all.  For me it is about the actual process and being able to be as creative as I want as well as choosing the people you want to work with. It’s a great feeling to see something come to life from start to finish!

P+S: What is the most important lesson going through this journey has taught you?
AR: There is always tomorrow. To never give up. Take every failure as an opportunity to learn and try again.

P+S: Where would you like to take your line?
AR: I would like to be selling at various retailers and boutiques around the world. It is not a question of world domination but more of keeping an intrigue and exclusivity. I don’t want it to get saturated or dated. It is about creating an identity and a lifestyle for the people who collect the pieces.  I would also like to bring more awareness about providing the people that help me produce the pieces with their fair share as this is something that is not commonly addressed in clothing manufacturing. 

P+S: Do you have any tips, advice or word of encouragement to offer the P+S readers who are contemplating to launch a similar venture?
AR: Be in it for the long haul. Some people become sensations over night others not so much. Be consistent and always reinventing the wheel. Little by little and having faith in yourself and your product can get you far. Don’t be disillusioned by the big competition if they can make it so can you.  Not necessarily on the same time line but with enough will power and a support system a lot can be accomplished.

P+S:  Where can we find those beautiful Alicia Reina pieces?
AR: www.aliciareina.com, Michelle Farmer Collaborate at the Ritz Carlton Reserve in Dorado Beach Puerto Rico, Farasha Boutique in Utah, Carnetdemode.com and more to come soon!


P+S: How can people connect with you online?
AR: They can follow my facebook Alicia Reina (clothing), twitter:_alicia_reina_ , instagram: aliciareinaapparel, tumblr: http://aliciareina.tumblr.com/ or they can always email me personally at Alicia@aliciareina.com!


Thanks Alicia for sharing your journey with us.




Photos by:
Kohl Murdock Photography

Model:
Bella Saona from the band "Bella and the Beast"





May 8, 2014

The birth and rebirth of my 2 passions!



I have 2 main passions in life. One is art; the other is encouraging people to follow their passion.

I started this blog as vehicle to carry out the latter. But in doing so I found that I was moving away more and more from creating art. My goals were to maintain this blog, create a brand for my art while working as a full time freelance designer. I soon realized that sometimes achieving one goal means putting all your focus on it to see it through before embarking on something else. And this is what I did. I put the blog on the back burner and focused on my art. After overcoming many obstacles, a difficult year of personal trials and not to forget the learning curve that comes with diving into a field in which you have no prior experience, I finally launched my own line of throw pillow covers, Popiphi. Yay Me!



So after some thought and now that my line has been launched, I decided to come back to the blog. I think it's important to honor yourself and your spirit and one way for me to do this is by honoring the two things that I keep coming back to no matter what goes on in my life, the two things that talk to my soul, my two life’s passions. I will continue to pursue my art and encourage you to pursue your dreams by bringing you great creative people who have already embarked on their own journey, people like you and me, moms, dads, homemakers, career women and men, working hard, pushing every day to see their vision come to fruition to show you that it can be done, to inspire you to start your own journey, to push but most importantly to soar.

March 19, 2012

Gratitude Monday | 3/19/12




“Both abundance and lack exist simultaneously in our lives, as parallel realities. It is always our conscious choice which secret garden we will tend… when we choose not to focus on what is missing from our lives but are grateful for the abundance that’s present — love, health, family, friends, work, the joys of nature and personal pursuits that bring us pleasure, the wasteland of illusion falls away and we experience Heaven on earth.” 

- Sarah Ban Breathnach

----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
"Gratitude Monday" is an effort to encourage you and myself to start out the work week in a place of gratitude. You can express what you're grateful for each week and encourage others to appreciate what they have and not take anything for granted. Be grateful everyday for all you are given and share with us throughout the entire week what you are thankful for. It might help someone else realize their blessings.


Today I'm grateful for all the signs and guidance I've been receiving leading me to where I need to be.


What are you grateful for? Let me know in the comments.

March 15, 2012

Go-Getter Spotlight: Régine Roumain of Haiti Cultural Exchange





Born in Brooklyn, NY from Haitian parents, Régine Roumain is a hard-working woman whose passion is to cultivate, empower and bring awareness of Haitian culture to New York City through community based events and experiences. She is a co-founder and the executive director of Haiti Cultural Exchange, a non- profit organization, whose mission is really facilitating Régine's vision to come to pass. Through founding and working with her organization she designed a way to make her passion a big part of her life and is really enjoying the joys this brings.


P+S: Tell me a little bit about yourself and Haiti Cultural Exchange.
RR: Who am I?  Always evolving… I am an advocate for Haiti and our culture. A mother, wife, daughter, sister, community advocate… Haiti Cultural Exchange was born out of a strong desire to see Haitian culture grow and thrive, to provide positive experiences for people from diverse backgrounds to experience Haitian culture, and to use the arts as a platform to discuss social issues and foster community.

P+S: Have you always been passionate about Haitian culture?
RR: I was raised partially in Haiti, from 1986 to 1992. I was exposed to the culture from a very early age – the music, the art, the craftsmen and craftswomen. In my twenties, I started a small business, called Kreyòl Creations, to import Haitian crafts to NYC; I think that the seed of HCX was born from that experience.

P+S: Did you work a 9-5 job prior to launching the organization?
RR: I have always worked in the nonprofit sector. I started my career at a Haitian-led community organization, worked as a nonprofit consultant for a time, and most recently was a program officer at a foundation serving women and girls. I want to be engaged in work that benefits underserved communities, has strong community involvement, and supports our development as agents of change in this world.

P+S: What was the pivotal moment that led you to decide to pursue your passion full-time? How did it all start and how has Haiti Cultural Exchange developed since the launch?
RR: I decided to devote myself full time to HCX in 2009. The organization was founded by 6 other phenomenal Haitian women who have dedicated themselves to the development of the organization. We have added new board members since that time who have been instrumental to our growth. Over the past few years, we have developed ongoing and signature programs like our monthly An n’ Pale | Café Conversations, youth development programs, Haiti Film Fest, and community collaborations with cultural institutions such as the Brooklyn Museum and the New York Historical Society. There is much more work to be done!

P+S: How has the response been so far?
RR: The response has been phenomenal!  HCX is clearly filling a need in the community. Having a platform for artists to present their work and present Haitian/Diaspora issues within a cultural context is critical. The artists we have worked with are extraordinary and I am delighted to provide an outlet for their voices and ideas to be heard.

P+S: What do you think has been most instrumental to your success?
RR: A strong conviction in the value of the work as well as familial and community support have been key.  

P+S: Did you find it difficult to learn the different aspects of launching a non-profit organization? If so how did you get over the hurdles?
RR: I have been working in the sector for over 10 years.  It’s definitely hard work, particularly for small, under-resourced organizations. You just have to believe in the mission and vision and keep at it!

P+S: What gave you the strength to keep going when faced with challenges?
RR: A strong belief in the importance of the work has kept me focused. HCX supporters, friends and family have been instrumental in helping to address challenges. 

P+S: How has the decision of launching Haiti Cultural Exchange changed your life?
RR: I’m surrounded by amazing people and I get to do what I love every day. 

P+S: Has your family been supportive of your decision? If not, how did you deal with it?
RR: I could not do this work without the ongoing support of my mother and my husband.

P+S: How do you balance running this organization with taking care of a family? Do you have a great support system?
RR: Balancing HCX with family is definitely tough, particularly since my second child was born last May. This work is more than full-time – it’s my passion. I’m still striving to find balance.

P+S: What would you say to other women out there who believe that they can’t pursue their passion because they have a family/children to care for?
RR: Go for it! 

P+S: What’s the best part of living your passion and launching the organization?
RR: The community support has been terrific! Being surrounded by artists pursuing their passions and constantly creating is really invigorating. Working - even in a small way - on behalf of Haiti and Haitians feels right.

P+S: What future plans do you have for Haiti Cultural Exchange?
RR: There is a lot to do! We need to continuously grow and develop our programs, conduct more outreach to under-served communities, and work to establish a cultural center in NYC! We hope that as we become more known in the community, more and more people will not only support the organization by participating in our programs, but also by providing much needed financial support. 

P+S: What is the most important lesson going through this journey has taught you?
RR: Just do it! We have a lot more agency and power than we think.

P+S: Do you have any tip, advice or word of encouragement you can give the P+S readers who are also looking to live their passion?
RR: Dream big! Work hard! Have fun!

P+S: How can people stay updated with the work of Haiti Cultural Exchange and connect with you online?
RR: Visit our website: www.haiticulturalx.org
Twitter: @HaitiCulturalX
And join our mailing list!


Thanks Régine for your time and for sharing your journey with us. I wish you the very best and continued success with your organization and living your passion.

March 12, 2012

Gratitude Monday | 3/12/12




“Both abundance and lack exist simultaneously in our lives, as parallel realities. It is always our conscious choice which secret garden we will tend… when we choose not to focus on what is missing from our lives but are grateful for the abundance that’s present — love, health, family, friends, work, the joys of nature and personal pursuits that bring us pleasure, the wasteland of illusion falls away and we experience Heaven on earth.” 

- Sarah Ban Breathnach

----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
"Gratitude Monday" is an effort to encourage you and myself to start out the work week in a place of gratitude. You can express what you're grateful for each week and encourage others to appreciate what they have and not take anything for granted. Be grateful everyday for all you are given and share with us throughout the entire week what you are thankful for. It might help someone else realize their blessings.


Today I'm grateful for having great people in my life that love and support me.


What are you grateful for? Let me know in the comments.

March 5, 2012

Gratitude Monday | 3/5/12




“Both abundance and lack exist simultaneously in our lives, as parallel realities. It is always our conscious choice which secret garden we will tend… when we choose not to focus on what is missing from our lives but are grateful for the abundance that’s present — love, health, family, friends, work, the joys of nature and personal pursuits that bring us pleasure, the wasteland of illusion falls away and we experience Heaven on earth.” 

- Sarah Ban Breathnach

----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
"Gratitude Monday" is an effort to encourage you and myself to start out the work week in a place of gratitude. You can express what you're grateful for each week and encourage others to appreciate what they have and not take anything for granted. Be grateful everyday for all you are given and share with us throughout the entire week what you are thankful for. It might help someone else realize their blessings.


Today I'm grateful for waking up this morning and starting this new week with excitement and positivity. 


What are you grateful for? Let me know in the comments.

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