We had the good fortune of connecting with Vanessa Acosta and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Vanessa, can you tell us more about your background and the role it’s played in shaping who you are today?
I’m Bolivian-American. Growing up as a hyphenated first gen definitely came with identity issues. I never felt like I belonged here nor there. And I think that’s the story for a lot of first gen kids. But as I grew older I began to know more and show more interest in my ancestry, in the culture of Bolivia. My parents are very proud Bolivians, they always were and they would always say I should design clothing in Bolivia blah blah blah. That’s what it sounded like to me. Being a teen, I didn’t want to listen to my parents, I wanted to find that journey myself as a designer. And fast forward through my journey of studying fashion design and designing my first aguayo pieces, I finally found my aesthetic. A balance of what my parents were always proud of but also included is my own identity. All that impact who I am today, how I run my business, what my business stands for. It’s a Bolivian-American brand, but it’s not literal Bolivian which a lot of people would assume. It’s a brand run by a Bolivian-American gal who finds inspiration through her ancestors and culture while living in modern day America. I feel like I found that ever-changing balance of being part of two cultures. It’s still an ongoing journey but understanding that I am not alone on this as a first gen makes it easier to continually discover my identity.
Alright, so let’s move onto what keeps you busy professionally?
I’ve always been a very artistic person. I come from a family of two accountants as parents, so I definitely didn’t get it from them. But they saw I had an interest in it and put their hard earned money towards my love for art. That I will never forget, my parents embraced my artistic side and gave me the proper tools and opportunities to expand that skill. I started oil painting, charcoal drawing, watercolor, acrylic painting at the age of 10 and continued into high school. I was a very quiet kid, filled with severe social anxiety, so art was my safe place. I was a strange kid who was cooped up in her cottage core room painting Monet’s at the age of 12 while listening to swing music. I would watch other kids play outside my window and had no interest in doing those things. I was truly an old soul and that love for art never went away, if anything it uncontrollably grew into my love for fashion. Since the age of 11-12 my love for fashion became somewhat of an obsession. I cut pieces of clothing from everyone’s closets(got me in trouble) so I could design original outfits for my dolls, I sketched my own designs, collected every issue of Vogue and it never went away. This journey has been a life journey, and I know that this is a rare occurrence because I envy the people who venture and try to discover multiple interests and careers to figure out what they want. For me, fashion was my first and last love and I never strayed. From age 11 to 31 fashion has been my life and I am happy to say that at age 31 I run my own clothing business and create my own illustrations, my own designs and more. 11 year old me would be proud.
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 live in Los Angeles but I’ve only lived in the east side of LA so I would definitely stick around a certain area if I were to show my friend around. I would take them to Echo Park, get some elotes and ride the swan boats. Then I would take them to Elysian Park down the road and up the hill to show them a view of the city. We would definitely eat at places like Donut Friend in Highland Park and eat at Hippo for a fancy type vibe. We would definitely take some time to vintage shop as well like Iguana Vintage in Hollywood. I also love being a good host so I would cook dinner and have movie nights and wine with my friend. This is pretty much my life without a friend visiting, having picnics in the park, eating, drinking wine and shopping. So I would just do all those things with a friend.
Who else deserves some credit and recognition?
The community! When I started my business, I was pretty alone in it. It wasn’t until I started to meet other small business creators, other Latina brands, other woman of color entrepreneurs that I finally felt like I had the support and love to continue to pursue what I wanted to create. I now had a community and a handful of friends I could vent to that could relate. I had a community I built that loyally supports businesses like mine in any way they can and they deserve the credit. It’s not lonely at the top. It’s filled with a community of people who want to see you succeed and vice versa.
all images were taken by me. Proper credits are @wasiclothing