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|Written by Kelsa Staffa|
|Monday, 06 June 2011 00:00|
The first thing I noticed about Aida Flores was her huge smile. Bubbling over with enthusiasm and welcome, she invited me to Tim Hortons and treated me to an iced cappuccino, easily chatting with me about the heat, current news, and local construction. Within seconds I feel like I've known Aida for years. But as I'm a great lover of fashion, I soon turned to the topic at hand -- how Aida got into the fashion design business, what made her choose Ottawa, and what inspires her.
One of the first things I asked her was whether her upbringing in the Dominican Republic (she moved to Canada only three years ago) influenced her designs. "Probably," Aida told me. "Because, in front of my house when I was a kid there was a fabric [store] where they used to make kid's shirts. And sometimes they used to throw out little pieces of fabric. I always used to go there and grab some. And I was making clothes." So whence does she draw her inspiration now in her new homeland? "Mostly what I do is to see the people in the street. I don't decide what I see. To see the people makes me extrapolate what will be in the future. They are walking this way. So I go a little bit further. That's how I do my designs."Like so many of us, Aida didn't originally plan to settle in Ottawa. "We came to Montreal. I was planning to live there. But my husband got a job in Ottawa, so we moved. We couldn't say no because we didn't know if we'd find another."
Breaking into Ottawa's fashion world was another coincidence for Aida. "I didn't start to look for it. I saw an advertisement about the first Ottawa Fashion Week, so then I sent my resume and a copy of my works and asked them to include me."I attended Ottawa Fashion Week 2011 and was blown away by the talent, so I wondered if Aida felt the same. She perceives the fashion industry in Canada as "very strong. Mostly in Toronto, Montreal, and Vancouver. I think Ottawa has to work on it a little bit, but what I find is that Ottawa, or Ottawaian designers, are very, very good." So good that she "made some friends, and I started [in the Ottawa fashion industry] that way."
There were several young designers at Ottawa Fashion Week, so I asked Aida what advice she would have for a young Canadian designer just starting out. "You have to try. Because everyone says I'm foreign, I'm just three years in Canada [...] and I already have a little name. So you just have to try. Because if you want to do something good, you really have to bet. Sometimes it's hard, but you still have to do it."
Aida also has one of the most refreshing and realistic views on making a name for yourself in the fashion industry. "You don't have to think about that, as a fashion designer. I was a professor, maybe that's why I know this so well. The fashion industry is so big. It's like for the actors. Not everybody will be Tom Cruise. There are so many actors who are very good and very happy. There are so many fashion designers; not everybody will be top of the top and the richest. But you can be a good fashion designer and be happy and have a good income, and you don't have to appear every day in the magazines. If you are thinking you will be Oscar de la Renta, forget about it! How many fashion designers are there, and how many Oscar de la Rentas? You can do many things, many, many things as a fashion designer and be happy."
Aida Flores can be found at her business, Downtown Cobbler, located at 174 Gloucester (Bank and Gloucester).
Photos courtesy of Tony Ottaviani Photography.
Tags: aida flores, culture, fashion, go a little bit further, not everyone will be tom cruise, ottawa fashion week, possibility, tony ottaviati. how many oscar de la rentas