Racked is no longer publishing. Thank you to everyone who read our work over the years. The archives will remain available here; for new stories, head over to Vox.com, where our staff is covering consumer culture for The Goods by Vox. You can also see what we’re up to by signing up here.Image via Raquel Zaldivar
Sometimes it feels like fashion is a lose-lose situation. High fashion can be absolutely unreachable, lest you forego the month's rent, yet low fashion can leave you looking like, well, everyone else. But what about the girls in between? You know, the ones who covet runway pieces, but aren't into the fast-fashion trends they're modeled after?
Simonett Pereira was one of these ladies, only instead of sticking to the sale rack, she took matters into her own hands. It's been three months since the launch of her clothing brand, Style Mafia, and since then the fashion brand has been picked up by 50 stores in the U.S. and Latin America and can also be found in her own boutique in Wynwood. In addition, she founded Miami Style Mafia, a collective of creative and fashion pros who come together to produce fashion editorials and original content. We caught up with Simonett to see what she has to say about her Mafia mini empire, which is helping give Miami serious sartorial bragging rights.
So tell us a little bit about Miami Style Mafia. What is it and who's involved?
Miami Style Mafia originated with the concept of creating a guild of sorts for creative professionals in the fashion industry to connect and collaborate in one domain. Today, the blog highlights the work of fashion creatives including photographers, stylists, hair and makeup artists, and models in our city by producing original content that we showcase on the blog. Every month we release several photo series' that are very much inspired by Miami culture.
How has it evolved from your initial plan to what it is today?
Originally the idea for the blog was to create a directory where one could browse through the work of Miami fashion influencers and industry insiders. Along the way, we realized that producing content with these creatives that linked back to each participant's individual work was a lot more interesting and engaging than a directory.
What made you want to create Miami Style Mafia, as opposed to a traditional personal style blog?
Prior to MSM, my friend Eugenia and I had a personal style blog called The Goodwill Project where we both embarked on a 365-day journey styling outfits with pieces found at Goodwill stores and posting them on the blog. It was pretty cool to be rewarded for our personal style, but once the project was over and we started to think about our next move, we noticed that there was no real sense of a Miami fashion community. We created Miami Style Mafia with the goal of bringing all the professionals we had met during our time as bloggers and fortifying the Miami fashion industry.
What does it take to be in the "Mafia"?
You have to be passionate about what you do and you have to be really good. Our "Mafia" seeks to inspire others through our work, this means we only work with the best. Usually to participate in a Miami Style Mafia exclusive feature, we reach out to people we notice are doing amazing things. Miami-based photographers, stylists, hair or makeup artists, models, designers, or other creatives can also submit their portfolios to us by emailing us at: email@example.com
What is the coolest opportunity you've had since launching Miami Style Mafia?
So far the coolest has been being flown out to Las Vegas to open a fashion conference for Poshmark App to tell my story on how I started Miami Style Mafia and our clothing brand Style Mafia. Speaking in front of all those people and hopefully inspiring others to pursue their dreams was super rewarding. Oh and being picked up in a limo at the airport and staying in a super luxe hotel for the weekend was not too shabby either.
What has that process of launching your own fashion brand been like? And how is it related to the Miami Style Mafia site?
Launching a clothing brand has been so awesome and scary and crazy! There is a lot of work that goes into the different processes of producing clothing, from the design process to the manufacturing and then distribution of the clothing itself and then there is setting up the showroom and marketing the brand - it's definitely a lot of work. I honestly couldn't be happier with where we are at with the brand and never expected many of the opportunities that we have been awarded only 3 months into our launch.
Let's talk about the clothing. What is the process of making your collections like? Who do you have in mind when you're curating your collections?
Curating the collections is one of the funnest parts of my job. I find most of my inspiration in trends that interest me throughout the tents in February and September as well as in street style from around the globe. The process of creating for the collection starts with me sending inspiration trends, fabric, cut and detail photos to our designer. He then renders 3 sketches per design and I have to pick one. After the design is approved they produce a sample and it is at this point where we decide if the piece goes into the collection or not.
What made you want to create your own clothing line, instead of simply showcasing other brands in your store?
For a long time I found myself dissatisfied by the clothing I was shopping for because the clothes I wanted to wear were either uninteresting or way out of my price range. I wanted to create a brand that targeted people like me, who wanted to dress in different and elaborate clothing that didn't cost more than my rent. I started a virtual store out of my closet on Poshmark reselling other brands that I bought locally. I started a successful business out of doing this and realized after a few months that it was time to take it to the next level and work on my own brand. So last summer I flew out to China with my mom, who is also my business partner, and we went for it.
What's next for the Style Mafia brand? Do you see any collaborations with other Miami bloggers or fashion personalities in the future, and do you have any plans to carry your designs in other stores?
This year we are focusing on getting Style Mafia to as many of our stores of interest as possible. We are currently carried at over 50 stores across the U.S. and Latin America.
Where would you like to see Miami Style Mafia in five years?
In five years, I'd love to see Style Mafia become a successful wholesale business carried by retailers worldwide. I would love to have more international fashion influencers shopping our brand and seeing the culture of our brand expand and evolve.