After two years in footwear, Alejandra Gastelum is making a name for herself.
The spunky 32-year-old, who founded her eponymous line in 2011, has spent the last year developing her business with top retailers such as Shopbop.com and expanding her namesake line, Alejandra G.
She also recently took home a “Latin Trendsetter Award” from Latin Trends, a media company based in New York. “Not everyone is going to be the superstar like Jennifer Lopez or Eva Longoria,” Gastelum said, “but people can be designers and make a difference. I was so happy to know [the award] is about inspiring people.”
Here, Gastelum sounds off on her path so far.
1. What have you learned about the design industry in your first two years?
AG: As a designer, you can’t always have it in your head and bring it to life in person. It may look great in your head, but it may be hard to put together with an outfit. A magazine might shoot it, but buyers would tell me it would be hard for a woman to wear. I had to find the right place where it was the crazy side of Alejandra, but also wearable for the real woman. I had to find the middle.
2. How did your background shape the road to becoming a shoe designer?
AG: When I graduated high school, I became a teacher to a disabled kindergarten art class. I have been a real estate agent. I was a TV producer and in music. I didn’t know I was going to eventually end up in shoes, but all these jobs led up to it. They all had a creative element. I went to school in Italy for this at 29.
3. Do you plan to move beyond shoes?
AG: I’m aiming to release handbags by 2015. Then I would look toward launching other accessories. Once shoes are mastered, I’m excited to keeping growing.