CHICA Boss: How Paola Estefania Is Building an Empire
As part of People CHICA's celebration of Hispanic Heritage Month, each week we'll be spotlighting Latinas who've founded their own visionary companies without compromising their beliefs — CHICA Bosses. This week, we speak to Venezuelan fashion designer Paola Estefania.
After immigrating to Florida from Venezuela as a young girl, Paola Estefania worked hard to make her dreams of building her own fashion empire come true. The designer is now at the helm of own haute couture label, Paola Estefania, as well as the Humble Hustler brand, with collections for both men and women in activewear, streetwear, and ready-to-wear lines.
Attention to detail is everything, and she makes custom handmade pieces. Paola's designs include eveningwear couture jumpsuits and bridal gowns. She also has a "mommy and me" collection of bathing suits. "My mom and my daughter motivate me," she tells People CHICA. Her two-year-old daughter, Sofia Anaya, is her little muse. "She is the light of my life. To leave a legacy for her is my biggest drive and motivation."
Helping others and not forgetting her origins are an essential part of her story. "I take pride in my heritage," she says. When she visited Venezuela a few years ago, Estefania was crushed by the humanitarian crisis in her native country. "It made me more aware of the struggles that everyone goes through on a daily basis just to buy simple necessities like medicine," she says. That life-changing trip inspired her to create the Your Guardian Angel Foundation. "I wanted to do something that made a difference," she explains, adding that she donates part of the proceeds of her fashion collections to her charity. The foundation receives donations of medicine, clothes, food, and many other essential products and ships them to those in need in Venezuela.
Having the support of her mom, who helps take care of her daughter while she goes to work every day, means the world to her. "It's the biggest blessing," she says. "Being my own boss is a dream come true."
Her path to success came with lots of work and sacrifice. "The journey has been a learning experience. When I first started I had no clue what I was getting myself into," she recalls. "It takes perseverance and discipline — you really have to be dedicated even when it gets hard. You have to do your research and set realistic goals for yourself." Another piece of advice for future CHICA Bosses? "Try to learn as much as you can. Keep focused on what your goals are and go for them no matter what people say."