We had the good fortune of connecting with Nadjhla Gracia and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Nadjhla, we’d love to hear about how you approach risk and risk-taking
Taking risks has always fueled my creative process; remaining consistent helps bring about the best possible outcome. Maya Angelou often inspired me growing up. Especially her quote saying she believes that the most important single thing, beyond discipline and creativity, is daring to dare. That always stuck with me, giving me the courage I need to tackle what may seem impossible to achieve. Not having a support system meant it was a risk for me to study fine arts and fashion design as a young girl from Miami, then an even riskier undertaking by opening a fashion boutique in South Beach. Dreaming of taking that risk inspired me to continue pursuing my education, learn as much as possible as an entrepreneur instead of simply hoping. Taking risks can be a good thing. To evolve as a fashion designer, I knew I would have to take risks to craft unique designs, so I took the risk of adding excessively long straps to my swimwear designs, which evolved to our signature style of body-hugging ribbons. Taking risks helps me grow creatively and personally over time. So I keep daring to dare as I continue my journey as a fashion designer.
Can you open up a bit about your work and career? We’re big fans and we’d love for our community to learn more about your work.
The tagline for NADJEA is Exclusivity is The Vision because that is the essence of it all for me as a designer. It is not simply about producing clothes and going to market. It is about crafting designs and colors that people will love and enjoy wearing, and why every collection from NADJEA is manufactured by hand in limited quantity, remaining exclusive to those who love the brand. It is very demanding to grow a fashion label over time, but I know what I want to accomplish. Having clear foresight helps me persevere. And maintain control of the design and manufacturing process, from raw textiles to completed Swim and Resort wear collections.
I initially started designing gowns and ready-to-wear, but trends are ever changing, and I no longer wanted to chase the industry to compete. I started designing swim and resort wear for fun, and then I became passionate about a great deal of creative freedom that I felt. So I contemplated the various ways swimsuit designs can be worn, inverted, then crisscrossing the straps to provide extra support and body-hugging comfort while remaining sexy, which is what differentiates us from other brands. Women often have to change after leaving the water. Swimwear designs from NADJEA are chic and incorporable into a post-swim look that is fashionable.
Let’s say your best friend was visiting the area and you wanted to show them the best time ever. Where would you take them? Give us a little itinerary – say it was a week long trip, where would you eat, drink, visit, hang out, etc.
We would start the day at the Richmond Hotel with mimosas by the pool, followed by a relaxing siesta on the beach, tastefully provided by the Boucher Brothers. Brunch from Rosetta Bakery and croquettes from Las Olas Café are a must. After visiting the Art Deco District, it would be time for dinner at one of my favorite restaurants, Kiki On The River, some of the best fare in Miami. Visiting Miami Design District and Miami Sea Aquarium are ideal trips when you think of visiting the city. But for something a little more refined, a trip to the Fontaine Bleau Hotel is necessary, for Amazing Italian cuisine at Scarpetta, the best way to end the night.
Shoutout is all about shouting out others who you feel deserve additional recognition and exposure. Who would you like to shoutout?
I want to dedicate a shout-out to Ms. Charlene Parson, Director of the Fashion Department at Miami International University of Art and Design. When I first started studying at the university, she was one of the first faculty members to connect with me. She was always so elegant and beautifully dressed. During one of my many trips to her office searching for inspiration, she taught me about Picasso’s story, we talked about his paintings and watercolor techniques, and she lent me a book about his life story. I was so afraid of losing it. She always gave me helpful advice on my coursework, along with encouragement as a budding fashion designer, one of my fondest moments while attending MIU. I hope she catches sight of this article and knows how much that meant to me.
I also want to give a special shout-out to Patty and Alan Herbert. They believed in me as a fashion designer and entrepreneur, along with a great business opportunity, they provided mentorship. Having the opportunity to work with them personally provided great insight that I will always cherish. They got married around the same age my husband and I did. Hearing stories about 60 plus years of marriage is truly inspirational.
NADJEA, Ray Kay, Natalia Aguilera