Abigail (me): What would you say are the rewards of owning your own clothing brand?
Carolina Arias: There’s a couple of things; one is the physical side. There has been already a couple of instances when I have walked into an event and I see a guy wearing a Descalza tie. I don’t think there are any words to describe that feeling.
As a designer and as a founder to see somebody wearing something that you put your heart an soul to create and to see how confident they look wearing it, that is something that, no matter what I have to go through, I’m going to keep going because I love seeing that expression. I love seeing people feel confident in whatever it is they are wearing because they feel like they have a piece of home with them. And even if they have no affiliation with Latin America, I know people who wear Descalza, who are not hispanic, who love the designs and they connect with our story and have pride in saying “hey I know who made this, I know who sowed it”. That’s definitely one of the rewards. Another great feeling is when I get random emails from different people who connect with the video of the story of Descalza. For instance I connected with this girl who emailed me about the video and how it really hit home for her. It really touched her heart and all I did was just share my story and be as transparent as possible. Which is what I want for Descalza, I want to be as transparent as possible and show people that I’m vulnerable and that I’m doing this with my heart and soul. So when that translates in a video it’s amazing.
Me: I can definitely attest to that because I remember that when I saw the video I was also super inspired. It made me realize that no matter how much money you have or where you come from, you can make your goals a reality if you work hard and put your heart into it.
Where do you see yourself and Descalza in the next 10 years?
Caro: I don’t see Descalza as a mass production company. I see Descalza in its own boutiques and any other boutiques were Descalza fits in terms of mission and values. I’m hoping to have my own Descalza boutique here in Raleigh in the next 5 years. Later in the future I would like to branch out to other cities. I also want to have my own cooperatives in Latin America where I’m not only housing the artisans but I’m housing students. I want to create opportunities for students to be able to learn about Latin American textiles and techniques and be able to link up with the community if they feel the passion to pursue it.
I also want to link up with people who also have a similar story but in different parts of the world, and create sister brands of Descalza that focus on African textiles, Indian textiles etc. It’s a story that a lot of us as immigrants can connect to no matter which part of the world you come from.
Me: It sounds like a revolution haha. So the last question is if you could please share one last piece of advice for all the women out there who are thinking of starting their own business?
Caro: I would say that a lot of times as women we can get super caught up in the details, which is a great strength that we have, but sometimes when you need to start something you need to go ahead and do it, there really isn’t enough time to make sure that every little detail is planned. So I really recommend that if you have an idea that you’re serious about, start by sharing it with people in your support group because they will hold you accountable for it. If you keep it inside then you run the risk of convincing yourself not to do it. You need to get out of your head and talk to the people that care about you. Then I really recommend that you reach out to mentors or people who are doing something similar to what you want to do. At the end of the day you will see that you’re not alone. For me it’s really important to have family and friends and mentors that support me and that I can reach out to for help. Don’t get caught up in the details, you will find what you need along the way. There’s a lot of great resources out there so that you don’t have to come up with a lot of money to get things done. I recommend reading books about the subject. One book that I highly recommend is “In the Company of Women” and it’s a series of stories and interviews about women who are in the creative industry. So for those who are journalists, artist, chefs, designers. What we have in common as artists is that we all struggle with finding ways to create a business that aligns with our passions. These women talk about the good and bad and I learned a lot from their lessons.
Me: That’s pretty much what these interviews are about. You’re such an inspiration and I’m so glad that we were able to have this talk because I think that these are the stories that we need to get out there. You’re a hustler and a fighter and you are not afraid to show pride in your heritage. Thank you for sharing your story and for being so open and for staying true to your heart. Because that is one thing that is very clear which is that you are creating a brand based on the love that you have for your hispanic heritage, your passion to serve the community and your passion for textiles. That might make it 3x times harder but the results are going to be amazing.
Caro: Thank you I really appreciate hearing things like this because sometimes I get wrapped up in my own mind and it’s great to have these conversations.
Lastly, please continue to Part 3: Carolina's Insights on Owning a Clothing Line and Future Plans
*All photos from this post are owned by Descalza website