Succeeding in the world of fashion is difficult, and even more so if you haven’t studied at the right university and made all the right contacts.
26-year-old Beatriz Peñalver from Granada is the exception. She’s never so much as set foot in a fashion school or rubbed shoulders with big-name designers. Notwithstanding, her innate talent for design and her perseverance for learning to sew and to create speak for themselves.
A little over one year ago she opened an atelier in her hometown of Almuñécar and already she’s about to make the leap to the Big Apple. Until the 27th of September, New Yorkers will be able to enjoy her collections in a pop-up store in the heart of Manhattan.
Her story is one of true passion for the world of fashion, and of course, a well-deserved stroke of luck.
SO CATCHY!: What made you dedicate your work to fashion when you come from a completely different background without any training in the fashion world?
BEATRIZ PEÑALVER: I finished my degree and I started working in what was around, a bank and businesses, so I moved back to my hometown to live.
At the same time, I started to cultivate my hobby more seriously, taking classes in pattern design and getting more into the fashion industry. I’m a curious person by nature and so, the extra time that I had after working in the bank I didn’t dedicate to resting, but to sewing, researching… inventing.
My biggest supporter was my mother-in-law! When I was working in the bank, I used my afternoons to sew with her… Every. Single. Afternoon. I’ve learned a lot more than just how to sew from her; she’s very decisive, fast, efficient and intelligent.
My contract came to an end at the bank and I started to think long and hard [about what to do] until I came to the conclusion that what would really make me happy would be to spend all day creating and running my own business. I suggested doing it at home, I wanted to try it. The unconditional support of my loved ones has, up until now, been the main force behind my achievements.
SC!: What do you want to show with your designs, what do you want to achieve with the kinds of clothing you design?
BP: My mission is for women to always feel beautiful, sure of themselves and to always show a bit of where I come from. I want it so that when a woman wears one of my designs, she does it to look very elegant and spectacular, and flirty, [I want] people to look at her and [I want] here to feel like everyone’s looking at her.
SC!: When and who ordered your first dress, and what did it mean for you?
BP: I had two first-orders. The first [of those was a] friend, which was an experiment and it started to raise suspicions about what I wanted to do. And the second dress I did for my friend Judith, who looked spectacular with the dress. When I saw it on her for the first time, I was blown away.
SC!: How did you get the program from Cuatro [a major TV channel in Spain] to choose one of your dresses for Corina? How has this affected you?
BP: It was pure chance because I’d decided to do an “open day” in Madrid. So I hired a model and we did a photo shoot on the streets of the city, and the stylists for Cuatro TV channel just happened to be passing by and they chose my designs for the program.
Since then, I haven’t stopped, a big part of my success is thanks to those stylists.
SC!: What do you think is the secret of your rapid success? What have you done to become so well-known so quickly?
BP: Success, without a doubt, apart from being on television and trying to stay in the media spotlight, is without question my continual presence on social networks and hard work every single day.
SC!: What has been, up until now, your biggest achievement?
BP: Being able to live from my work and having brides amongst my clientele. It makes me really proud that they think about me on a day that is so special for them.
SC!: In what way do you think you are bringing something different to the Spanish fashion world?
BP: Made-to-order and personalized design online. A new field in the industry, from someone young, with passion and the desire to conquer the world.
SC!: What do you think about, what inspires you when you design?
BP: In a sensual, Andalusian woman, but with style and class. And I’m usually inspired by anything in my daily life, but something trendy.
SC!: Define the type of client who buys your designs. Do you think of someone (a type of woman) when you design or do you think your designs are good for any kind of woman?
BP: I only think about women with a young spirit, who want to feel like the center of attention.
SC!: Who is your point of reference in the fashion world? Someone who you admire, a source of inspiration for you.
BP: Without question Tom Ford, because of his elegance, Marc Jacobs, because he’s fresh and dynamic, and Coco Chanel for what she did in her day.
SC!: What is your next project? Tell us about your leap to New York.
BP: In Septmeber I’ll be in New York with a “pop-up store” to show my collections in the Big Apple..
That also came from the Open Day that I did in Madrid last November. A number of bloggers, stylists and other people from the industry, I don’t know what they do, happened by… Among them, there was a person who took pictures of my clothing down to the last detail… This girl talked to me about her project, that she worked for a business located in New York… something, honestly, unimaginable for me so soon… So I listened to her but I never thought that it as a real possibility.
And time went by, around five months in total and another communication company from New York wanted to introduce my clothing there, but I didn’t really trust them, I decided to take a conservative tack and not do anything.
A few weeks later, the girl who took the pictures wrote me an e-mail with an interesting offer to bring my brand to the Big Apple. I read and re-read the documents and the dossier that they sent me, I thought about it, did the math and, even though it was a big investment, I didn’t think it was impossible. I simply thought that I had to work harder to get the money together and to be there on the trip.
And, well, it’s a pop-up store on Lexington Avenue and 47th, in the shops of a hotel in the center of Manhattan. We’re 7 designers altogether for 20 days (from the 4th to the 27th of September), we’re showing our clothes to the end-consumer or to people in the fashion business so they can reserve collections, or try on the pieces. The purchases will be done through an online shop that will be open at the same time for 6 months.
SC!: And, how do you feel?
BP: My feelings are varied. Apart from not really realizing how amazed I am because I’ve never been in New York, it coincides with Fashion Week! Another part of me, of course, is afraid because I’ve put a lot of effort into this project and I need it to work on a personal level as well as on a professional one. I’ve spent sleepless nights thinking about the risk that I’m taking but I feel confident. I’ll present the clothes that have been the most successful in Spain and some new pieces.
Once again, I’ve got the support and love of my family and the best wishes of my followers. They are the best team.
I only hope that Sarah Jessica Parker runs into a Rouge dress in the store window.
SC!: And after that, what is your dream? Where do you see yourself in 10 years? On different catwalks?
BP: Really, the only thing I want is to continue making a living from fashion design..
SC!: Do you think that it’s an easy world to break into or that Spain is a complicated place for talented young people?
BP: Spain is a complicated country because there isn’t a big market, but we have a lot of potential and are well-recognized abroad.
SC!: Describe in a few words what’s happening now in Spanish fashion, and feel free to make a few predictions about the future.
BP: Without a doubt the present is called Inditex and I hope that in the future people truly realize that quality and design always prevail and they’ll head that way.
From So Catchy! We wish you the best and we’ll keep you up to date on where this promising Spanish designer is heading next.
Translated by: Michael Padilla