We had the good fortune of connecting with Isabella Montoya Paz and we’ve shared our conversation below.

Hi Isabella, what was your thought process behind starting your own business?
After graduating from FIT and learning about the impact the fashion industry has on all of us, my love for fashion felt bittersweet; I kept asking myself how can we do better?

I built a career in luxury retail for 10+ years working at Elie Tahari, Prada, and Dior. I’m not going to lie, it drove me nuts, but I learned all the essential skills I would later need. Most importantly, I became more familiar with the incoherences of the industry from the inside.

What I was truly craving was meaning and purpose. I wanted to reunite fashion with ethics. I envisioned sustainable supply chains where artisans are respected and their ancestral tradition was celebrated.

Can you give our readers an introduction to your business? Maybe you can share a bit about what you do and what sets you apart from others?
What sets you apart from others: What sets Paz Lifestyle apart is our sense of aesthetics, commitment to quality, and careful curation of the best up-and-coming sustainable brands out there. We use business as a force of good. Ensuring that our partners; artisans, farmers, and garment workers are earning sustainable livelihoods.

What you are most proud of or excited about:
I am most proud of how far we have made it and surviving the past year in NYC. It was a challenging time as an entrepreneur navigating the unknown and overcoming so many obstacles. We still accomplished so much against the odds. We launched our first pop-up with Olowo, an emerging studio, whose mission is to foster a space for creatives to manifest their ideas. Our most recent milestone was participating in our biggest pop-up to date in Houston, TX. We opened on Earth Day with 25+ Paz Lifestyle brands. It was a dream come true. We were in a 5,400 square feet boutique in the heart of Montrose, where American Apparel once use to be. (An iconic place for Houstonians). We partnered with Nutu, a moringa fair trade brand, and Lich Goods, a collection of beautiful vintage goods to bring this massive space to life overnight.

We are so excited about the next steps Paz Lifestyle is taking. We are launching Girlfriend Collective, an ethical and sustainable activewear brand. Collaborating with Marina Testino, an activist who is raising awareness on conscious consumerism. And launching our own private label of accessories! So much in store for all of us! Stay tuned (sign up to our newsletter)!

How did you get to where you are today business-wise?
It was a mix of studies; fashion design, marketing, and economics with 10 + years of working in luxury retail. It’s also our commitment to organic growth, steadily making progress, and most importantly never missing the lessons hidden behind every mistake we make.

Was it easy? If not, how did you overcome the challenges?
It was hard. I was working full time, going to school full time, and planning the birth of Paz Lifestyle for 4 years. I officially launched in NYC on March 9, 2020. It is a hard journey to fulfill what feels like a vocation. Overcoming the challenges is very rewarding but also very nerve-wracking. I am solution-oriented, mindful of waste, and passionate about human rights. I think my passion and grit always get me through the storms, I just persevere.

What lessons have you learned along the way?
The best lessons were the hardest ones, learning to say no, learning to let go, learning to find a balance between work and work :p

What do you want the world to know about you or your brand and story?

Paz means peace in Spanish. It is a special name that is behind our business philosophy, it is our core principle. Approaching business in an altruistic manner. Paz Lifestyle is engaged in a great restorative process that aims to foster greater care for our environment by empowering its greatest wardens with every purchase.

The name Paz was inspired by my mother’s maiden name. Her birthday is on Earth Day and it always reminds me that business without ethics is simply toxic.
Paz is a lifestyle which celebrates nature through art; born out of curiosity to find solutions for the fashion industry, and out of respect and awe for the natural world and its amazing diversity.

Fun fact: 90% of our brands are woman-founded companies and 75% of our brands are BIPOC.

If you had a friend visiting you, what are some of the local spots you’d want to take them around to?
Favorite Spots: •Smoothies: Green Planet in Clinton Hill, Brooklyn
•For bagels: Russ & Daughters in LES & Black Seed Bagels in SoHo
•Italian: Lil’ Frankies in LES, The lemon pasta!
•Olive pizza: Tailfeather in Clinton Hill, Brooklyn
•Greek food: Kiki’s in the heart of LES and Chinatown
•Israeli food: Silvana’s in Harlem
•Ice cream & popsicles: La Newyorkina in West Village
•Babka: The Breads Bakery in Union Square. The best chocolate Babka ever!
•Peruvian food: Pio Pio in Hell’s Kitchen
•Cookies: Levain cookies

Chelsea for art galleries

Beach day at Rockaway and eat at Rockaway Beach Surf Club for the best tacos of your life!

•Back room: Vintage room. Prohibition-esque vibe. Cocktails in teacups
•Wine store: Drink PLG, you can find the best artisanal Georgian wine there

And make sure to experience a farmer’s market!

Who else deserves some credit and recognition?
A big shout out to one of my former bosses Maribel Britton, a phenomenal hard working woman, who I really looked up to. She believed in me long before my journey at Paz Lifestyle, at 20 years old. She hired me for a part-time opportunity at Elie Tahari and gave me the chance to perform at my full potential with little retail experience. At 23 I became Assistant Manager of a 3 million dollar store for Elie Tahari. She rewarded my hard work and gave me my entry into luxury fashion.

A big thank you for the team that we built along the way: our first intern Michele Carrol for all of the amazing work she puts in; our brilliant newsletter content writer, Natalia Trejo; Vanessa Vila from Lima Sagrada and Adriana Cachay Anardo from Ayni, for their encouragement and mentorship.

I am so grateful for all of the brands that have joined the Paz Lifestyle platform and the beautiful partnerships that have blossomed from this journey like meeting my partner Antoine Desjonquères, founder of Nutu, I am so thankful for his unconditional love and support.

And of course shoutout to my family for keeping me grounded and proud of my Peruvian roots. Special mention for my grandmother who introduced me to the world of design and nurtured my creative spirit.

Website: https://www.pazlifestyle.com/

Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/pazlifestyle/

Linkedin: https://www.linkedin.com/in/isabellamontoya/

Twitter: https://twitter.com/PAZLIFESTYLE

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/PAZLIFESTYLE/

Youtube: https://www.facebook.com/PAZLIFESTYLE/

Other: https://www.tiktok.com/@pazlifestyle https://www.linkedin.com/company/pazlifestyle

Please hyperlink all brands:

Lima Sagrada https://www.pazlifestyle.com/collections/about-lima-sagrada

Nutu https://www.nutu.net/

Lich goods https://lichgoods.com/

Ayni https://www.pazlifestyle.com/collections/about-ayni

Image Credits:
All pictures are by Ricardo Ramirez (https://www.instagram.com/diabloricardo/) with the exception of the table picture, is by Tamara Lichtenstein Basket with pillow picture by, Isabella Montoya (Paz Lifestyle) Nature picture is home, Arequipa Perú by me

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