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Written by Walter Grio.

Title: Creative Director, Aqua Di Lara
Location: Montréal, (Québec) Canada

Tell us about your work.
I am the creative director of both Aqua Di Lara and Qiss Qiss swimwear. I am also the owner of the company. I am involved in all the processes, from sourcing, designing, to organization of photo shoots and shows. I am a very eclectic person so being involved with all these aspects keeps my life exciting and definitely quite busy. The busiest season for me is from October to August. All those months have something going on that keeps me at work til late in the evenings. I love the excitement, the creativity, the people, the shows and have to say dislike the whole production side of the business and working with contractors. It is a very different experience and something I would have to say I like the least in this business.

What is the experience like when you’re showing a collection in Miami during Mercedes-Benz Fashion Week?
Incredible and crazy. Preparing for that week takes months. Just in organizing this event, we have 2 full time people working on it for 4 months! It’s a twenty minute show but so much goes into it from PR work, to show execution, to conceptualization, to seating, to everything. We always have a vision and ensuring it’s achieved is the part that we work on the hardest – especially when it comes to the selection of the models. It changes every season so sometimes you have to make due with some of the girls. Don’t get me wrong, they are all beautiful it is just that sometimes when you have a theme, they just may not necessarily fit the part. We get to Miami, usually about 3-5 days prior to the show and have our go sees with models set up as well as meetings with our sponsors, photographer, and hair and make up. We also do the tradeshow, so even prepping for that can take quite some time and play its toll on the team. Also on the side of design it’s insane too. Getting the samples all ready and produced, finalizing the collection, establishing direction… you name it, it’s nuts!

Who are some of the people that you have worked with?
We have worked with some great stylists of stars like Keri Hilson, Tyra Banks, Ivanka Trump, to name a few. We have been approached to be a part of the top models from around the world – from the US, Canada to Germany. Seeing our suits in those shows is extremely flattering and really gets all of us super excited. It just feels so amazing to finally get some recognition of your hard work. All these magazines, shows, editors are bombarded with brands all the time, and when they decide to choose yours, it is just the most amazing form of flattery in the world.

How did you evolve from having no fashion background and knowing nobody in the industry — to winning the Fashion Designer of the Year award in 2007 bestowed by the prestigious Institut de Design Montréal?
It was through the support of my family and friends that things materialized the way they did. You need a good group of people around you who motivate and encourage you when you are down and put you in check if you are going the wrong way. Financially too, it is a HUGE investment. People sometimes do not realize this and it’s really something important to understand. I did not have a business plan when I started and this I HIGHLY recommend. I went from pursuing a passion, a hobby, to realizing it’s a business. If you want to make it a success, there are a lot of difficulties you will face and a lot of sacrifices you will make… just try to remember to keep a smile on your face.

What inspires you to do what you do and what inspires you to keep doing it?
I love what I do. I have always believed one should do what they love. We spend most of our lives working that it is important to want to go to work in the morning. I love creating something new, the thrill of putting a new collection together. I love meeting new people, organizing events, it just has everything I love all in one!

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