Hispanic Heritage Month icons are all around us. They can be legendary musicians like Sergio Mendes, Supreme Court Justices like Sonia Sotomayor or, in the case of Zoe Damacela, teenaged college students running their own business. Though she’s still not old enough to legally drink, Zoe is already an in-demand fashion designer who has mingled with Oprah Winfrey, Tyra Banks, and even President Barack Obama!
Part of what makes Damacela’s story so inspiring is her humble upbringing. Raised by an Ecuadorian single mom in a low-income Chicago community, she was always encouraged to follow her dreams. And for Zoe, that meant diving head first into the world of art, painting, and design. "When I was younger, I was always creative," she said. "I was always trying out arts and crafts. I found a lot of comfort and I found a lot of happiness in drawing things, painting things, and creating things myself."
Interestingly, Damacela wasn’t just interested in the creative side of the fashion world. She also had a knack for business and worked hard to educate herself on how to properly finance and market her own line of clothes. Amazingly, she started her first fashion "corporation" at the age of 14! "The biggest challenge in starting my business was getting the recognition," Zoe explained. "My family had been very supportive of the fact that I wanted to do fashion and become an entrepreneur. But at the same time, they gave me a lot of responsibility and had me take on everything that goes along with running a business."
And just like any startup company, Damacela’s line took a while to catch on. Her first dresses sold for roughly $13. But keep in mind, that was in her early teen years. Now at the ripe old age of 19, Zoe’s selling gowns for as much as $300 a pop. And to help seal the deal, she actually models each piece of outerwear herself.
Damacela’s successful designs are now commonplace at Chicago proms, quinceañeras, and even weddings. In fact, Zoe has even captured the attention of President Obama (who has strong Chi-town roots himself). She was recently invited to the White House for a meet and greet with the First Family.
When asked about the secret of her success, Damacela openly highlighted a strong work ethic and plenty of diversity on the clothing rack. "I think the reason I’ve had success is because I work nonstop," she said. "My clothes are really encompassing of so many different types of people. I try to incorporate a lot of different styles into everything I do. I love diversity."
You can check out all of Zoe’s different designs (and get her latest blog updates) by visiting her site, ZoeDamacela.com.
Have you ever wanted to start your own business? Sound off in the comments or @MTV3. Sound off in the comments or @MTV3.
Copyright : Tr3s