Good evening dapperites,
On January 29, I had a chance to attend a great event, the dawn of a new era in the Ottawa fashion scene. On this night, I attended the official launch party of The Exclusives PR. They are the city’s first PR firm catering to the fashion industry. They offer social media, event planning, production and media relations to magazines, boutiques, stylists, designers, etc.
The night was a great one, characterized by a gathering of a variety of players in the Ottawa fashion scene. There were makeup artists, bloggers, designers, stylists, etc. It was great to meet and mingle with a variety of them. Some of them even recognized me and my flashy custom suit from Instagram. It was definitely flattering!
I had a chance to interview the dynamic young founder of The Exclusives, Naira Fragoso da Costa. Here is how it went:
Tell me a little about yourself:
My name is Naira, I’m 20 years old. I attend the school of Journalism and Communications at Carleton University, which I will be graduating from this December. I have been wanting to be a fashion journalist/PR since I was 12 years old.
What is your experience in the fashion world?
I modeled for almost five years within Montreal, Toronto and Ottawa, doing fashion weeks within those cities and different campaigns such as – Bluesfest and Bayshore mall.
When did you get the idea to open up the Exclusives PR?
I got the idea this past November when, I watched an interview of my idol Kelly Cutrone saying “If you know the in’s and out’s of this industry, eff an internship – do your own thing.”
How long in the making has it been? What were your biggest challenges along the way?
The day after hearing Kelly’s interview on November, 30th I wrote up a business plan, the next day went to register the business with the government, the next day got a staff, then the next day started working on the website. By December, 21st we launched the site and social media accounts. By January, 29th we had our launch. Biggest challenge has been trying to get people to understand what PR even is.
Who has been your inspiration/role model throughout this whole process?
The #1 fashion PR in the world Kelly Cutrone since I was 13 up until now and designer Diane Von Furstenberg since I was 15 up until now. Eleanor Lambert and Anna Wintour have also been tremendous inspirations to me.
What do you hope to accomplish with this venture?
To revolutionalize the Canadian fashion industry, like the fashion publicist Eleanor Lambert did with American fashion back in the WWII era.
How do you balance this with your school and personal life?
The business does take up a lot of my time and school does as well of course. But I’m a believer in the importance of spending time with our loved ones because, you honestly never know when will be the last you’ll see them. So when life hands you three choices of; work, sleep and a social life and you can only pick two. I unfortunately dropped sleep, BUT everything is temporary and like my grandmother would always say in Portuguese “Nao ha beneficios sem sacrificios.” There are “No benefits without sacrifices” so my sleep sacrifice will hopefully come to an end soon.
What are some of the challenges facing the Ottawa fashion industry?
Everything. There’s potential but there’s no knowledge and professionalism, to make it flourish into a well rounded fashion atmosphere – like Toronto or Montreal. The fashion industry in Ottawa has absolutely no value to it, things are done in an unprofessional manner and that is why things remain so mediocre. In order for it to reach a higher level people need to stop treating it as a hobby and as a profession with value. Fashion is culture, fashion is identity but it is also revenue. In New York, London and Paris people in fashion will make more than doctors and lawyers because, it has become a valuable industry. So in order to have value, it must be valuable first. That being said people in the fashion industry in Ottawa no matter what they are; designer, blogger, PR or model. Knowledge is number one and key, this is a complex industry that has a lot of history, background and diversity. If people studied this industry a bit more and tried to understand how the big four capitals do things and have developed through the years, things may unfold in a much different manner. All in all, this isn’t just an Ottawa problem… this is a Canadian problem. Fashion has yet to be incorporated into the cultural policy of this country and progression within industries only occur once it is established within the government aspect and cultural aspect of the country. Which is why getting into the habit of studying this industry is important. People would be extremely surprised at even how behind Toronto is compared to other fashion based cities. Once those challenges and flaws are met and understood – that is when a revolution within the industry becomes a must.
She is definitely an inspiring young woman and I do look forward to working with her in inspiring this revolution for the Canadian fashion industry. She is very determined and there is no doubt she will be successful in this venture.
Last up on the night was a great afterparty held at Mezzanotte Bistro in the Byward Market, a very trendy and stylish location with great cocktails.
-The Don 😉