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Letras con Tacones' Experience as an Intern at ELLE

CareerMaría Elena RodríguezComment
paola letra con tacones puertorrican blogger elle

First of all, happy new year!!! So glad to start 2017 with this new series: Intern Diaries, so let me know how you like it in the comments bellow! :) 

I have known Paola from Letras con Tacones for a while now. Not only as a Puertorrican blogger peer, but because I had the chance to partner with her with one of the brands I work with at the Agency. She's not only super sweet, classy and has awesome style, but she is also super responsible and dedicated to her work. 

So when she told me that she was going to study fashion in New York City and nevertheless, work at ELLE, I knew I had to interview her for you guys. And of course, she gladly accepted. Hope you guys enjoy this interview as much as I did! 

What are you studying in grad school and where? 

I am currently doing a Master in Professional Studies (MPS) Fashion Marketing at LIM College in New York. 

How did you get an internship at ELLE? 

I arrived at New York City on August 16, 2016 and classes began the next week. I had already started thinking about working during the day and studying at night, so that Friday I decided to go to FreeFashionInternships.com, a website recommended by my blogger friend, Yulia from Hidden Fashionista, which is where she got her internship at Jimmy Choo. I applied to five companies: Saint Laurent, alice + olivia, Marc Jacobs International and Oscar de la Renta, in that same order. 

paola carolina colon elle fashion internship
Hearst Tower. Photo Cred: Foster and Partners

Hearst Tower. Photo Cred: Foster and Partners

Two weeks afterwards I received the email from ELLE asking if I was still interested on the internship, and what date I was available for interview. That email was a Wednesday and I confirmed the interview on that Friday at 10AM. After researching to be ready, I went to the interview super early so I didn't get lost on the subway since I was such a newbie, haha. 

The Hearst Tower is located at Colombus Circle. Hearst is Elle's, Harper's Bazaar, Marie Claire, Cosmopolitan and Seventeen's  publishing house and they're all located in the same building. 

I arrived for the interview at the 24th floor and my heart wanted to explode. The person who interviewed me was the Fashion Assistant who asked some questions such as what are you studying and for what,  what was my experience in fashion and what are my short and long term goals and basically why Elle. Finally she just told me: "Congrats! You got the internship. When can you start?" I literally died. 

In which department did you work at? 

The internship was at the Fashion Closet, which is where the fashion assistant and freelancers work at. It is pretty much the spine of the magazine, since it is where all the designer looks are stored for the photo shoots. I was in charge of manageing everything that came in and out of the closet. I had to notify, evidence it and keep it organized, cleand and presentable for collaborators or stylists. 

How did you imagine your first day at Elle? 

I thought that I was going to receive a tour and training for every task but it was completely the opposite. I learned along the way and every time they called me out for something wrong. There were SO many details that I had to keep in mind, that every time I made a mistake I wrote it down on my agenda to make sure to NEVER do it again. 

There were SO many details that I had to keep in mind, that every time I made a mistake I wrote it down on my agenda to make sure to NEVER do it again.
— Paola

So how was actually your first day?

My first day was quite interesting because I had no idea of what I was doing and if I was doing it right or wrong. Everybody was so busy and on their own world, so nobody had time to answer my questions unless it was extremely necessary. To be the first day, it was significantly a lot of work, but the excitement was too much for me to care!

What was your biggest challenge?

The biggest challenge was to avoid mistakes. Magazines work as a chain and if someone makes a mistake, the rest of the people are affected by them. From the stylist to the department editors. You have to be super diligent, have a problem solver attitude and be willing to do whatever they ask you. 

What was your favorite part about working at Elle? 

elle magazine headquarters

Everyone that I saw daily inspired me somehow. Watching Robbie Myers, the Editor-in-Chief, Samira Nasr, Fashion Director and María Dueñas Jacobs, the Accesories Director were my daily doses of goals. I wasn't seeing it on Instagram or Pinterest, I was watching it in real life. From what they wore, the gifts brands gave them according to their styles and the conversations they had at the closet about trends. Everything was part of the experience. 

I do have to admit that the highlight was the first day, when a Puertorrican greeted me at the lobby. It felt just like home! haha. 

Another great thing were the presents. There were a lot of things that the brands duplicated or nobody wanted so the interns took advantage of it. (Yas!)

As a Puertorrican woman doing a high demand internship at the Fashion Capital of the World, do you felt like you had a bigger responsibility than the rest of your peers in your position? 

We were five interns in total. Three of them from the US, one from Barcelona and myself. Two of them were studying at Columbia, one of them took the semester off to complete the internship and the last two of us were from LIM. I was the only intern doing a masters so that was my motivation to be better every day. I always have in mind the huge responsibility of representing Puerto Rico by giving it my all everywhere I go, no matter if it's school or the internship. 

I am extremely proud to be from Puerto Rico and super grateful for the opportunity at Elle. <3

Describe a normal day at Elle.

You can sum it by saying hectic, nonstop and exciting. But a normal day would be: 

Elle Magazine Itern

Arriving at ELLE's Fashion Closet at 9AM to move the pictures from the camera to the software. We had to take photos of all the items in the closet and assign a code for each. There was a board to make the respective check ins and check outs with all the items for photo shoots. During the entire day I received garment and shopping bags of different designers and I had to equally schedule messengers to return the looks that had already been shot.

The most frequent task was reading emails to be in constant contact with publicists or the Fashion PR company that represented each designer. They were usually Karla Otto, PR Consulting, KCD or HL Group. 

They would give me a list of brands with a theme, like for example, "skaters" because they had to do a photoshoot inspired by that theme. So my job was to search around the Internet and find the coolest looks from each brand and set them up so Samira, the Fashion Director had a clearer view of what she wanted. 

We had a photo shoot practically every day, so we had to help to create mood boards for inspiration and visualize the story the stylist had assigned or the story Samira wanted to tell. And of course, look for Starbucks! 

What is your biggest lesson after the internship? 

Everything is possible when you have the talent, perseverance and passion. You have to be patient and give it your all every day, because in New York there is no time to lose. It is true what they say: "If you make it here, you make it anywhere". This city is not easy, but if you survive and accomplish your goals, you are ready to live anywhere in the world. 

What is your next goal now that you've finished your internship at ELLE?

The next step is to apply for another internship, but this time from the designer's side. I am in the stage where I have to explore all the areas and see the other side of the coin. I want to experiment the communications and marketing department inside luxury brands. So stay tuned... You will get more Intern Stories! 

 Did you ever imagine yourself as an Intern at ELLE?

I always had it in the back of my mind. I am very positive to accomplish what I set my mind to. The first time I saw The Devil Wears Prada (my favorite movie) I knew that I was going to be doing that one day. And after 10 tears, that day is here! It sounds cliché, but so true. 

fashion intern

Do you feel like your Blog Letras con Tacones helped you reach this goal? 

Every time I take a step forward I am super grateful to have created Letras con Tacones. This is my biggest asset when it comes to interviews, because it is my own. I can talk about my vision and how I pretend to use it in my career. Also, as a journalist, I need a presentation card that helps me express my passion for fashion and social media has been the perfect platform. 

Was your internship anything like The Devil Wears Prada stereotype?

To be really honest, it is not too far away from the reality. The movie exagerates some things but other things are super accurate.

That fast pace environment is completely true. I was at ELLE from 9AM to 5PM because I took classes from 6PM to 9PM, but the interns that didn't have class at night stayed there way after hours. Also, whenever I had the chance to lunch, it had to be in front of the computer. I always had to work really hard during lunch and if there was an emergency, I had to stop eating and resolve it. 

Running errands was really challenging too. Sometimes I found myself with two garment bags and two shopping bags in the middle of the city praying that it could survive rain or a subway ride back at ELLE. If the bags were TOO heavy, they called an Uber, if not, you'd just have to wing it as a mad woman through Manhattan with thousands of dollars in merchandise. Just like Andy! haha. 

The outfits in The Devil Wears Prada were an exaggeration. Most women at ELLE wore snickers, boots and Gucci Flippers combined with high waisted jeans, dresses or cute tops. I loved that everybody was super comfortable and practical while being super fashion forward.
— Paola

The outfits in The Devil Wears Prada were an exaggeration. Most women at ELLE wore snickers, boots and Gucci Flippers combined with high waisted jeans, dresses or cute tops. I loved that everybody was super comfortable and practical while being super fashion forward. Adidas and Converse were my bff's during the entire semester. :)

Also every time the Editor in Chief entered the closet, people stopped talking. So the movie was pretty accurate in this... just in a lower scale. Oh and Starbucks is so true! I had to look for coffee all the time!

starbucks fashion intern

What advice would you give someone who wants to enter the fashion publishing world? 

Follow your passion will always be my advice. A lot of people think that communications field is saturated and that is a mistake. Our biggest challenge is to create our own jobs and projects. You will always have to make sacrifices but I promise you that it is worth it. Just have patience. 

The key is taking risks, learning and educating yourself the most you can in order to get the job "a million girls would kill for".

Shop ELLE Staff's casual clothing staples:

So that's it guys! #CareerGoals don't you think? Hope you loved this interview and please let me know if you would like more like these. Let's see if Pao is ready for the next Intern Diaries! ;)

Make sure you follow Letras con Tacones:

  • Blog: http://www.letrascontacones.com/
  • Instagram: http://instagram.com/letrascontacones
  • Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/letras.tacones

Until next time!

María Elena

*All the pictures in this post were provided by Paola Carolina Colón, unless otherwise stated.



Style Crush | Bucket Bags

Fashion, ShoppingMaría Elena RodríguezComment

Photo Cred: The Stripe

While on the search for the perfect and timeless designer bag collection (read more on this here), I've been looking for trendier pieces that I can save my money on. Right now I am all about the bucket bag, so I have been searching around the internet for the perfect one. I even contemplated on Louis Vuitton's Noe, but I controlled myself. *Phew*

Bucket bags are definitely on trend for fall 2016. If you follow fashion and lifestyle blogs or scroll over your Instagram feed, you will notice that all the it girls are sporting one. And of course, you know me, I can't be left behind, because #FOMO. So here are three bucket handbags I found online, for three different budgets:

Leave me a comment below letting me know if you are planning on getting one yourself! I would love to know what's on your wish list these days. 

Until next time, 

María Elena

Gustavo Arango's New Store at The Mall of San Juan

Fashion, Shopping, LifestyleMaría ElenaComment

If you don't follow me on social media you've probably been wondering where the heck have I been these past couple of weeks. Well, first of all I was at a very much needed Walt Disney World vacation (because yes, I am a kid at heart) where my boyfriend proposed! You can see pics of the ring in my Instagram. To tell you the least, if you've ever been engaged or close to a person who is, you know it's sort of an interesting ride... specially with the wonderful question of "So, when's the date?!". Well hold your horses people! There's a pretty big chance it'll happen in 2017 so don't get too excited... there's a lot of saving to do before we tie the knot. Let me know if you'll like wedding planning posts and I'll make sure to keep you guys updated with details of this new and interesting chapter in my life. :)

Coming back to the present now, I was recently invited to Gustavo Arango's brand brand new store opening at The Mall of San Juan. If you're familiar with Puerto Rico's fashion industry, you'll know he's one of our biggest designers, dressing celebrities like Roselyn Sánchez, Adamari López, Alexandra Espinoza, Denisse Quiñones, among many others. 

"This is a new platform in which I decided to believe in Puerto Rico, because we have a lot of talent. It was very important for me that this store had the Gustavo Arango's seal, but more importantly, Puerto Rico's seal... I really want the whole world to know that we can do something similar or better than in any other international fashion platforms.", expressed Arango during his brand new store opening this past Friday. 

The store's style is called "Sculptural Setting" which means that you basically feel like you're entering into an artwork. Part of this concept are the rails in the ceiling in which the clothing can be moved around the store in a very modern and futuristic way. 

His idea was to have a white canvas where he slowly started adding works of art. There are 4 pieces of art inside the store, including an Andrés Serrano photography of a little beqauty queen and a very interesting Michael Jackson art piece by renounced artist David Lachapelle.

This new store concept in Puerto Rico, revolves around color blocking segments with the purpose that every client has the chance of mixing and matching their own unique combination. Plus, there's only one piece per size, guaranteeing the client almost no one will have their same piece of clothes. 

The concept is called "ready to wear" or prêt-à-porter which basically means that all Gustavo Arango's clothes at his new store are unique and handmade at his atelier. You'll basically have couture designer clothes that you can wear right away. You won't need a gala or go to fittings several times to wear them. Plus, with prices starting at $150, it's way cheaper than if you went straight to an atelier.  

As if all these perks weren't enough, there's a room in the back of the store called VIP Concierge where once you purchase you're new Gustavo Arango outfit, all the Mall of San Juan's store managers will help you style it with shoes, purses accessories, etc. How fabulous is this, really?! 

My final verdict? Guys I'm in love with this store! It's chic, elegant and fun at the same time. It's the perfect place to find high quality basics for your closet while supporting a very talented local fashion designer. I really recommend you pass by his store at the second floor at The Mall of San Juan (near Sacks) and invest in one of his great designs. 

As always, thanks for reading and let me know what you thought of this post! 



Summer Favorites | 2015

BeautyMaría ElenaComment

I can't believe summer is almost over! But I'm glad it almost is because it has been a crazy season and here in Puerto Rico we can't stand the heat... Literally. And don't even get me started with the drought situation! Ugh.

So to make my month a little funkier, I've been online shopping a bit too much. But lucky for us, my shopping becomes in some awesome reviews, hauls and favorite posts! Here you go:

NUXE Rêve de Miel Ultra-Nourishing Lip Balm - I know this is way to expensive to even be called a lip balm, but trust me on this one: it is worth it. I've officially switched my Carmex for this lip balm at night and let me tell you what a huge difference I've noticed! My lips are the softest they've ever been and they don't get chapped throughout the day when I use it at night. Plus, a little bit goes a long way. So I say try it! It's worth the splurge. 

Bobbi Brown's Smoky Lash Mascara - It's no secret that this is my current holy grail mascara. You can see me rave about it here. And now that it is almost over and I'm trying some new mascaras I have on stock, I had to include it in this month's favorites. If you like flirty lashes and you have stubborn eyelashes like I do, this mascara is worth the splurge. 

Ecotools Stippling brush - I originally bought this to use with my Soleil Tan de Chanel, but ended up using it for almost everything. It blends makeup beautifully to the point that I'm using it for foundation, highlighter, blush and even concealer! I know that's wrong and I should clean it before switching products but it does the trick! Highly recommended. 

Ole Henriksen Aloe Vera Deep Cleanser - The brand sent me this cleanser along with an entire skincare routine and this is what I've been loving the most. I love how it smells and how gentle it feels on your skin even though it's meant for acne prone skin. 

Maybelline's Instant Age Rewind Eraser Dark Circles Treatment - This is a holy grail product for almost every beauty blogger. And all I can say is that if you haven't tried it yet, go buy it. 

Laura Mercier Matte Radiance Baked Powder (Bronze-03) - I received this on a Laura Mercier 500 points perk from Sephora and I haven't stopped using it ever since. It reminds me of my Tarte Park Ave. Princess but without the subtle shimmer. If you're looking for a sun-kissed glow without looking overdone, this is the bronzer for you. 

Feeling tropical with my new @guapapr bracelets! Stay tuned for the launch of their online shop tomorrow... I'll have the link on my blog so you can show your support for this upcoming brand. 💃🏻
A photo posted by Ambinity by María Elena (@ambinity) on Aug 8, 2015 at 10:38am PDT

Guapa Bracelets - Last but not least, I had to include my friend Annette's new jewelry line! I've been using the bracelets on my Instagram picture these pasts days and all I've been getting are compliments. This is the perfect way to add color to your summer and once you browse around her new website I bet you'll be hooked. So go ahead and support a small business! #ShopLocal. ;)

What are your current favorites?

Career Profile | Fernando Rodríguez from Aaron Stewart Home

CareerMaría ElenaComment
If you are running and you keep looking at people around you, you slow down. But if you keep running and look forward, you forget about the world and just do what you need to do.
— Fernando Rodríguez

That's one of the many memorable quotes I got from Fernando Rodríguez, co-owner and Lifestyle Curator at Aaron Stewart Home and Aaron Stewart Lifestyle who agreed on doing Ambinity's first career profile.

If you have ever been around Puerta de Tierra in San Juan, Puerto Rico, there is no way Aaron Stewart Home's bright colors and impeccable taste hasn't catch your eye. So you can only imagine my excitement when Fernando, who has an amazing résumé, agreed on doing this interview. 

It was a Saturday morning and I had just posted a selfie on Snapchat announcing what was about to happen. All of the sudden Fernando's bright smile appears from the other side of my car's window. Umm.. Embarrassing! "Nice to meet you María Elena! Please come inside", he said in the friendliest way, shooking all the awkwardness away. My sister (who assisted me with photography) and I went inside to start the interview and suddenly Backstreet Boys music started playing from his iPhone. I immediately new this was going to be a great interview.

He offered us water and invited me to sit in one of his lovely tables to start chatting while my sister started taking pictures. For the next hour I sat there listening about his incredible career journey and the risks he took that led him to New York and back to his home town, Puerto Rico where he has experienced great success. 

"My favorite word is trust", he said at some point in a way that you can tell he's a very loving and spiritual person. To say that his calm voice and contagious smile will make your day brighter is an understatement.

"Some things are very superficial, but memories stay with you", said Fernando while recalling how his dream of opening Aaron Stewart Home came from childhood memories.  He used to visit Old San Juan with his family just to see the beautiful display windows of luxury stores like González Padín in Christmas Time. "When we opened the store I told myself that I wanted to bring back that vision to the Island. So last year we brought a snow machine so that it will snow every day in our display windows", he said with sparkle in his eyes. "It's my mission to create great things and I want to bring kids to San Juan so that people bring back those traditions that are part of who we are", he added.

So without further ado, here's how the interview went:

ME: Tell me a little bit about how you started working in the fashion industry? 

FR: I worked in corporate America companies like Colgate-Palmolive, GlaxoSmithKline and several pharmaceutical companies since I graduated grade school until I turned forty. I felt like a circle trying to fit into a square. I think that when you are growing and trying to figure out what your ambitions are in life, sometimes you don't look at the bigger picture and you may think that the things that are very inspiring to you are not a reality.

I always wanted to be in the fashion industry and I wanted to go to Parsons or Pratts, but they (his parents) sent me to business school. By the time I was growing up there weren't as many opportunities to kind of have an open mind to say 'this is your call'. In my time it was more like 'look, your dad has a business and your mom wants you to study finance so you have to go to business school'. Long story short, at 40 years old I was in New York and I will never forget the day I was at doctor's office with one of my medical detailers and I told myself 'what am I doing here? I don't belong here... this is not who I am'. Then I literally resigned (from his current position) and gave away company cars, stock options and my corporate credit card and started knocking on doors to get into fashion.

ME: You worked your way up at Hickey Freeman? How was that experience and how do you think it helped you in your career? 

FR: It was a rude awakening when I started knocking on doors at 40 years old, trying to find an entry level job that someone who just graduated from Parsons could do for far less money than I would've. I already had a big career behind me in the corporate world which is why nobody wanted to employ me. They told me that I was too old and that I didn't have the skills, but I just kept networking and reaching out to people through LinkedIn and to friends that I had in New York and someone finally gave me a chance.

This is when I started working at Hickey Freeman. They had a new brand that they were bringing out to the market and they gave me the opportunity of opening their new store in SOHO. I basically said 'I'll take it! I'll do whatever I have to do'. So as I opened the store they realized I had style and a huge business background. I did really well and they quickly promoted me to Brand Director. So in a matter of two years I went from Ugly Betty and The Devil Wears Prada into running a brand and going to Florence and working with designers.

It was kind of my dream come true... I was super happy and finally doing what I wanted and then the recession came into New York and the brand closed. Then I started working at Joseph Abboud as their Brand Director, where I worked on everything that had to do with branding and showing the brand to the market, except design. 

ME: Tell me about your experience as Regional Manager and then General Manager at women's fashion giant, Tory Burch?

FR: After Joseph Abboud I went to Tory Burch and stayed with them for about two and a half years. That was a great opportunity going from men's to women's and getting to do both and learn that market with a completely different pace and different demographic. It was super fun and super challenging running 13 stores all over the Northeast. Now Tory is opening a store here at The Mall of San Juan and the Regional Director came to the store the other day where we sat down for an hour just talking about the market.

It's funny how things come full circle. I always say you have to be good and make an impact with people in a positive way because you never know when they will come back to your life. That says a lot about yourself and your personality. It's really easy to reject something and leave it behind, but when you take the bull by the horns, that's when you develop character as an individual. You need to finish everything in good terms. 

ME: Tell me about your experience at MANHATTAN Magazine?

FR: After Tory Burch, a fashion lifestyle magazine asked me to be their Fashion Director and run every ad that went into those magazines. I was in charge of making all the relations on all marketing events and getting brands to advertise with us. Brands like Prada, Miu Miu, Louis Vuitton, Chloe, Stella McCartney and Chanel.

I'm very blessed because I was able to do things that people dream of and I don't take it for granted because it's part of what has brought me here. Part of the success of my brand is due to the fact that I've been exposed to all the big brands.

ME: Do you think these experiences in the fashion world helped you open your store? 

FR: The skill that I mostly developed from being in the fashion world was creativeness. I've always had it (being creative), but I think it allowed me to become more in tune with those things. Living in New York and working in fashion is a schooling by itself... walking by the street everyday and seeing the diversity of people, the way that people dress, the way that people shop, the way that people enjoy life. Everything is schooling.

I think the store is a mixture of Aaron and myself being able to travel the world for work and for pleasure and being exposed to many things that are now part of our DNA. That's what really helped us do something special here. Most of these products are things that we used in New York or our friends' own the brands. And we love helping our friends come to a new market!

ME: How did you meet Aaron and how long have you been together as life and business partners?

FR: Aaron used to work for a bedding company called SFERRA as the Creative Director and I was the Brand Director at Hickey at the time. We shared the same vendor (a girl also from Puerto Rico) at a sample sale in New York. She was always telling Aaron about this guy from Hickey and telling me about this guy in SFERRA because she thought it would be really nice if we met. I was like 'yeah, yeah yeah. No, no, no'.

So like six months went by and we were in the Hamptons and I saw him at a party. The next day I stopped him because I saw him walking down the street and I told him 'Hey I saw you yesterday at the party!' and he told me 'Yeah I saw you too!'. I thought he was lying until he told me 'you were wearing a Yankees t-shirt and aviator sunglasses' and then I asked him to buy me a drink and we started going out since that day.

We actually met on our own... It was serendipity, it was meant to be. If we had not met that summer on our own, we were still going to be introduced by our friend in common. We've been together for eight years now. 

ME: How's been the experience working together? 

FR: We went from partners to business partners when we moved here (Puerto Rico). We went from having different jobs, responsibilities, categories and fields to all of the sudden doing everything together. It's been a really cool ride.

I think that when you're meant to be with someone, life molds you in a way that it becomes really organic and we quickly realized what were my strengths and what were his strengths. We don't step on each others toes... when I'm down his up, when I'm up, he's down. We are never down at the same time.

It's very Ying and Yang, and I think that the attraction of human and spirit when to people are meant to be together created this really great formula for us. When you have this type of bonding, it sheds all the bad stuff away and you can focus on many other things.

ME: How did Aaron and yourself decided to open the store?

FR:  Aaron and I decided to 'close shop' and come to Puerto Rico to open this brand (Aaron Stewart Home). We made the decision on January 2013 and opened our store doors in November 2013. We came to Puerto Rico without really knowing the market, but we just knew we had a great idea. It's tough, but when you have a point of view and a clear vision of who you are, it makes it much easier to maximize efforts since it's part of your DNA. We knew we had something very special.

ME: Why open Aaron Stewart Home in Puerto Rico?

FR: I left and amazing job to move back here in a time of financial crisis in the Island, not knowing the market, but we took a big risk. I think life pays off when you take risks, because they allow you to generate new experiences in your life. Fear can be very decrementing to your life and it will hold you from experiencing many things.

I grew up around famous stores in the Island like González Padín and Velasco and there was so much elegance in these stores. I remember that the way they packed their stuff was very beautiful. From the way they packed with paper to the little presentation cards. It wasn't that it was expensive, it's just that it was special and that was my inspiration when opening this type of store in Puerto Rico.

After those stores closed, there was nothing like that here. So we started working on our packaging and making sure that everything looks really pristine and beautiful all the time. The packaging has a ribbon that wherever you go with that silver and blue ribbon present, they know it's from Aaron Stewart Home. We used Puertorrican luxury in those days (1970's-1980's) as the inspiration to open this store.

It's nothing new, we just want to bring back that customer service; if you can't come to our store, we'll deliver it to your home. It's very personal. This is not a place where you come in a rush. You can even drink champagne or juice!

ME: What is the hardest part of owning a business? 

FR: The most challenging part is that you know what needs to happen, but you don't have enough time in the day to get it done. Having people around you that don't completely understand what you are trying to do is kind of difficult too. Sometimes there's a lot of growing pains, but its part of the journey of having your own business and I don't see it as a mistake. I see it as an opportunity to learn something new so I don't do it again and I find a solution to the problem.

There's not a lot of things I don't like about owning my own business. The freedom of doing things at my own pace is the thing that I most like about it.

ME: In this economy, why do you think you have a successful business?

FR: By finding opportunities everywhere. I think our success has to do with that we came from the States and we had a very different way of looking at things. When you come from a different place you don't see things the same way. It doesn't matter if it was Puerto Rico or Miami, you always find that your way of doing things is different than what all the people are doing.

That's how we saw an opportunity of something that was not here and we marketed this store true to what we are. We haven't changed, we are who we are and I think that having the right products, something different and having amazing customer service are all part of the success.

There's no room for failing. Like, there's no crying in baseball! I root for myself. Some people used to tell me to not rent this space because there is a sewer in the front and it may cause the store to flood if it rains. And I was like, why am I going to stop getting an amazing space because somebody is telling me this? Let's fix the sewer!

The thing is to follow your instinct and ignore the rest.

ME: What advice would you give someone trying to get into the fashion and luxury industry?

FR: You have to stay up with it because it changes all the time. You can't rely in just what you know. You have to keep learning and reading and look at things with a different eye. You don't have to love it, but you have to appreciate it because it's part of your world. I think fashion and luxury evolve all the time and you have to be on top of that and you need to appreciate it so you can keep evolving with your brand in tough times.

You have to put your time and effort to learn the industry in order to be successful. Be humble and do whatever you need to do to develop the skills you need to become a master at what you are working on. Just because you planted that seed in the soil and the plant is not yet on the surface, doesn't mean that it is not starting to create roots.

When you have a vision or a virtue, you can't let it go. I think that when you have a desire of doing something you just have to really do it.. there's no room for fear. Fear is your worst enemy... you just have to keep trying until it works. As long as you know that you have that skill in you and you just need somebody to give you an opportunity. But once you get that opportunity you have to work really hard. It's not just going to come to you and that's it.

ME: Talk to me about wonderful Clooney

FR:He's human! I wanted a dog forever and since we used to live on a tiny apartment in New York, Aaron never agreed. But I kept asking him and sending him dog pics until one day I found a dog breeder online. That is how I found Clooney who is half cocker spaniel/ half poodle and I sent the picture to Aaron and he was like "when do we pick him up?!".

Clooney has become a beautiful part of our lives. He can do no wrong.

And last, but not least... Fun Facts about Fernando!

  • Favorite scent: Gardenia
  • Favorite music: 80's music
  • Favorite book: The Alchemist by Paulo Coelho 
  • Favorite way to unwind: Playing tennis
  • Favorite restaurant: Santaella and Yamburger (both in San Juan)
  • Favorite social media: Pinterest 
  • Favorite coffee shop: At home from my Nespresso
  • Favorite beverage: White Tequila
  • Must have home decoration piece: Good sheets/ good bedding
  • Most proud of: Having no fear and doing what we did. I am really proud of being where I am right now. 
  • Necessary luxury: A good watch. You can be in jeans and t-shirt but the watch says a lot about you.
  • What's at the top of your bucket list: Taking a vacation for 14 days. Excluding the flying and coming back and forth! Two full weeks of vacation.
  • Best place you've ever visited: Florence, the Amalfi Coast and Capri. I love Italy!

So if you live in Puerto Rico or are just visiting and you still haven't come around this store, make sure you give it a try. I assure you'll be in for a treat. ;)

Mother's Day Gift Guide | 2015

Fashion, Beauty, LifestyleMaría ElenaComment

I love spoiling my mom and I have a feeling you do too. As well as many of you, my mom is the most important person in my life and even if I like giving her really nice gifts, I find that the simplest and well thought gifts are the best. This is why I didn't just want to list a couple of things for you to buy for your mom, but instead I went to the most thoughtful person I know: my trusty friend/ co-worker, Valerie. I like calling her the "thoughtful queen" because she is the kind of person that remembers every occasion (big or small) and gives you a little something just to bring a smile to your face. She definitely takes the "it's the thought that counts" saying to a whole new level. I wish I was more like her. Don't you? 

Earlier this week she told me about this awesome idea of making care packages as gifts. She explained to me that she buys a cute little bag and gathers 3-5 things that she knows the person receiving the gift will actually use. How thoughtful and creative is that?! So, you guessed it! This Mother's Day gift guide is inspired by Valerie and her thoughtful gifts.

But before we get any further, here's a simple 3 step system you can use:

  1. One Bag
  2. One splurge item
  3. Two to three cute thoughtful items

Ok, now we're ready. Here are 5 examples that hopefully will inspire you to create the perfect gift set for the moms of your life:

As you can see, I left it pretty open so you can mix and match your mom's style. If you end up doing any of these gift bags please send me your pictures! I would love to see them. :)

XO, Elena

Fall 2013 Haul

Beauty, FashionMaría ElenaComment

I am starting a new job tomorrow, so I decided that I would reward myself with a little shopping in some of my favorite stores: Forever 21, Bath & Body Works and Sephora. Here is the end result of my (very fun) credit card damage adventure: