We had the good fortune of connecting with Paola Aleman and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Paola, what led you to pursuing a creative path professionally?
I was that high school girl who wore thrift store clothing because I came from humble beginnings. Being an immigrant and from a working-class family, my parents taught me that in life “It’s not about what you don’t have, but about what you can do with what you already have”. So, at the beginning of every school year, I was given a very small allowance to buy clothing for the year and I knew I had to be creative in order to make it last. I always loved fashion and design, so buying my outfits for school was always an event. I eventually got the idea to start shopping in thrift stores because I knew it would allow me to stretch my budget. Back then, thrift store shopping was NOT a trend, it was considered a means to an end and most people didn’t talk about it. I was never shy about it though, I LOVED showing off a new find and how people were genuinely curious about a dress or handbag I wore because they made a statement. I was a Latin Andie Walsh rummaging through bargain bins in my leopard wedges, Spice Girls T-shirt and Jeans just praying I would find something amazing to wear for the weekend. Though I have found many treasures over the years, there were still many items I dreamt about owning. When I realized that I may never really find them, I decided to start designing them myself. I never actively pursued a creative career; I just followed my love for vintage glamour and THAT lead me to Deco Dama.
Alright, so let’s move onto what keeps you busy professionally?
I first thought about Deco Dama being a cosmetics brand that could bring beautiful vintage looking makeup to life, but I had no idea how to run a business or even how to start one. The only thing I had was a vision and a true curiosity that led me into action. Ultimately, the brand transitioned into a lifestyle brand with my first product being a sparkly makeup mixing palette called Fancy Fan, named after all the women I grew up watching and admiring for their elegance and glamour. These women kept it fancy! The hardest part about starting a business in my opinion is believing in yourself. If you do not believe in your product or service, people will most likely not believe in it either. This has been the most challenging aspect for me, and I am starting to realize that these insecurities never really go away. Once you finally get warmed up, the insecurities shift into a different department of your business, especially if you have tasks you’ve never done before. One thing that has helped me overcome a lot of self-doubt is not being afraid to fail. I’m so excited for the future of Deco Dama. I’m currently working on new designs and launching clothing this upcoming year. I can’t wait for growth and to be able to connect with other ladies who love vintage glamour as much as I do.
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.
I really love going to places that can transport me. I enjoy going to Le Chat Noir or Lagniappe for a good glass of wine and low key live music. If I’m in the mood for something fancy, I prefer the Faena Hotel for a Cabaret Show as they are amazing! Or a drink at their Saxony Bar engulfed in 1920s glamour! It’s beautiful!
Who else deserves some credit and recognition?
My mother is my fashion Icon. I grew up completely bedazzled by her glamour and creative talent. She used to tell me a story about how she needed to make her own dresses because they didn’t have trendy clothing stores in her town. So, one evening a woman bought the dress she was wearing (that she made) at a cocktail party because she loved it so much. I tell everyone that story! I love it so much! I owe everything I know about style to her. She is and always will be my inspiration. So, shout out to my mom for always encouraging and supporting my vision! I love you forever.