1. Where do you draw your inspiration from and what keeps you inspired?
Most of the time I feel like a sponge. I want to absorb everything around me. Sometimes, I think I am a weird individual who is ready to absorb all the world has to offer me. I feel inspired by everything around me – animals, nature, life, family and even our customers! I am a self driven person and my love for everything keeps me inspired. Contrast and beauty are two big ones too but mostly being happy keeps me inspired all the time.
It’s basically all I know; we moved here when David (our son) was 17 months old. David (my husband) is originally from Buffalo. I find that this city has inspired me a great amount – it is a beautiful place. There is a huge community of artists in Buffalo, which most people don’t realize and it’s really great. I feel Buffalo has been growing rapidly since we’ve been here. There is just so much talent in this city.
Everything, and nothing is easy. I started my business 15 years ago, and I feel great that things have been happening since 2012 and I haven’t stopped since. I started Vania and David with only $20; my goal was to never borrow money and make it work. Everyday I am learning new things and meeting more people, and it’s been an amazing journey. One of the hardest things is the economic part. When I started, I didn’t realize how expensive it is – to be honest, I had no idea what I was getting in to. I’ve always been drawn to fashion and accessories, and wanted to create my own pieces and I never considered a plan B. You need to invest a great amount of money as your business progresses, and time is equally as important, and that never stops; you just have to keep going and keep doing.
I would say, before making a decision pay careful attention to all details involved. Being an emerging and independent designer is difficult and you must have a passion and love for what you’re doing and creating; do not get into this business for the money. You need to be in it because you love it, and you can’t imagine your life without it – it is almost like a marriage ,haha. Money comes with time, nothing good happens over night, you need to be have patience. Loving what you do will help you in the hardest times. Also try to be yourself instead of looking at what others are doing.
5. What is your favorite piece in your collection and why?
Well I love them all so it’s hard to pick just one. I do have to say that I am obsessed with fringe, hand-tooled work, and horns at the moment. I am also crazy about our soy candles, the Mami Candle is one of my favorites and we’re introducing new scents for fall.
I would say, by far, our success is measured by the appreciation of our clients. Listening to them talk about our pieces and their joy after using them and getting compliments is a big one. When we have clients that travel the world and say, I have never seen anything like this before, it makes David and I realize that we’ve come so far. When our pieces are pulled by stylists to be used for TV and movies, that is just beyond the dream. I feel as the time goes by, it just gets better every day. Our goal is to have our products in large luxury retailers such as, Bergdorf Goodman, Neiman Marcus, Barneys because I feel that’s where they belong.
7. What part of the fashion industry should be more accessible to younger designers starting out?
I have met a lot of students that go to school for fashion for many various fashion majors. I always notice that once they are done, they don’t know where to begin. I think somewhere they should have a class about how to start after finishing school, so that way they have a base from which to begin. I am not originally from the U.S., so I am not familiar with interning. When I wanted industry experience I did that on my own. I worked with tailors of all different trades, specifically apparel and leather and I was making money on it. I realize that those experiences were my form of internships. Any job will help you to learn something and that knowledge can always help you at some point. I did lots of different jobs, you name it, I did it, even working at a cleaners. That knowledge can’t ever be taken away and its part of who I am and who Vania & David are as a brand.
It has evolved immensely since I started out in 2001. I started with one bag and one design and seven years later, we added jewelry. I had prior experience in buying and selling jewelry for five years before the start of Vania and David. Another seven years after we introduced the jewelry, we added soy candles. We definitely won’t be waiting that long before we are onto the next Vania and David product. Little by little, our brand will only continue to grow, we like it like that.
Makeup Artist: Katie Mann, Mallory Jay Stoos
Photographer: Katie Schneider and Donald Schwartz
Stylist: Vania Escauriza Gagliardone