FASHTALKS WITH SILVIA COBOS

Designer Interview

By: Fashwire
Jun 25, 2020 05:53 PM

What inspired you to pursue a career in fashion and accessory design? 

The need for comfortable footwear that wouldn’t break the bank and would allow me to still feel fashionable. When I became pregnant with my first daughter I couldn’t find a solution that was of good quality, chic and at an affordable price. 

 

What was your previous work experience before launching your brand?

I worked for 12 years with the Colombian Government Trade Office in Miami leading internationalization strategies for Colombian fashion brands interested in entering the US and Caribbean markets. 

 

What was your first job out of college, and how did you land that position?

I was living in Colombia at the time and applied for an international internship with the government trade office in Miami and got it! It ended up being my job for 12 years.

 

If you could do something different before starting your business what would it be?

Learning more about e-commerce strategies to strengthen my B2C business. I started my company focused on selling wholesale which is a hard industry to thrive in.

 

What was the toughest circumstance you overcame when just starting out your business? 

Finding the financing required to grow and invest in marketing strategies like tradeshows and social media advertising.

 

What is one thing you look for when interviewing a potential candidate for your company? 

A winning attitude and the desire to grow and explore.

 

How is working in the fashion industry different today than from when you started out?

Now it is easier to connect with the consumer thanks to social media and marketing materials have become easily accessible through online platforms. 

 

"Fashion is a language that describes you without having to speak."

 

How important is social media to your brand?

Extremely important.  It is our live and ongoing way to transmit our DNA.

 

How do you define fashion?

Fashion is a language that describes you without having to speak.

 

How would you describe your personal style?

My personal style is very eclectic. I like to explore with different styles, materials, and trends. However, I would say I tend to be more classic wearing solid colors because I like my shoes to be the show stopper. 

 

What was your biggest fear when starting your brand?

Being able to sell and to appeal to a broad audience of women that would understand my philosophy. 

 

What are your greatest strengths and weaknesses?

For strengths I would say creativity and resourcefulness. I always look at creative and alternate ways to get around situations. For weaknesses I would say focus. It is hard for me sometimes to focus on individual tasks as I lead the brand from different spectrums at the same time. I also have a family with two small children that demand a lot of my attention, so the work/life balance sometimes makes it challenging when you are trying to focus.

 

What is your favorite part about being a designer?

Being able to see my ideas transitioning to a product and then to people. It gives you a sense of power when you know you could create, produce and actually see those ideas in real life.

 

What does the word “success” mean to you?

Success is a constant. Every time you reach a milestone, a new one follows, and every small step counts!

 

Where do you draw inspiration from for your designs?

From real life situations and from materials that I find. I often start by having interesting materials in my hand and then working around those to finish the design.

 

"I want my customer to feel empowered, free and comfortable." 

 

What other brands inspire you? Why?

Soludos, Paloma Barcelo and Castaner.

 

How do you want your buyer to feel when wearing your accessories?

I want my customer to feel empowered, free and comfortable.

 

Do you see your brand ever expanding into a different avenue? Why or why not?

Yes, I do. I want my brand to eventually be a lifestyle brand. Right now we started growing from shoes to handbags. Next step would be casual everyday apparel.

 

Are you passionate about something other than fashion?

I am very passionate about learning, about finding new creative yet structured ways to communicate ideas! I love studying and that is another passion of mine. 

 

There’s so much pressure for designers to come out with their greatest collection season after season. How do you personally try to achieve this?

I believe is all part of our growing process as designers. Inevitably every collection is better than the previous one because we learn from mistakes and from market response and in my case. I didn’t study design, per se, therefore my approach to the pressure is to put as much love and energy combined with the data we collect from previous collections to refine our ideas and final designs. 

 

What advice would you give to young designers just starting out and hoping to make it in the industry?

To study business management as well. It is so important to treat the fashion industry as a business and not get caught up only in the design aspect of it. Know your costs, your margins, your price and distribution structure while staying true to your value proposition. 

 

If you were not in the fashion industry what other industry/job would you be in?

Probably consulting on business strategies. 

 

What is the vision for your brand in the next 5 years?

To grow into our proposed new categories and be recognized as a lifestyle brand.

 

"Our designs are full of culture, details and handmade heritage."

 

You are currently based in Miami, is that where you are originally from?

I am from Colombia, South America.

 

Has your city and culture impacted on how you design? 

Definitely, our shoes are manufactured in my hometown which is originally known for its artisanal footwear manufacturing tradition. Our designs are full of culture, details and handmade heritage. 

      

What can consumers expect to see next from your brand?

A brand that will surprise with new embellishment techniques while keeping the promise in terms of comfortable footwear that is versatile and sustainable.

 

What makes your brand stand out from others?

Our materials, attention to detail and handcrafted embellishments. 

 

What is the inspiration for your brand’s name?

Well, actually the original name for my brand was VIDA LEATHER, vida is the Spanish word for life. I started the brand inspired by the birth of my first daughter, Martina. However, as we started growing we tried to register the brand name and unfortunately couldn’t. We began thinking of alternate ways to change the brand name and finally decided to name it after me, as the founder and designer. It was a more reasonable name change to communicate and it also gave us a broader opportunity to grow into other categories in the future.

  

What has been your biggest accomplishment as a designer to date? 

Being featured in British Vogue in Summer 2019 and being able to sell wholesale in more than 15 countries. 

 

What has been your biggest accomplishment personally to date? 

Having learned the skills to create and lead a great team of people that make this dream a reality. 

 

How would you define your brands customer?

A woman on the go that wants to be comfortable but chic. Oftentimes, comfort shoes mean boring ugly shoes and we want to challenge that perception.

  

If you could visit one place in the entire world, where would it be and why?

Japan. I would love to go and live the culture for a couple of months. I believe it is forward-thinking yet practical and a culture that embraces futuristic and traditional views.