On March 14 to 16, 2022 at Jungle Plaza in Miami took place the fourth edition of Latin American Fashion Summit (LAFS) a multiplatform created by businesswomen Estefanía Lacayo and Samantha Tams with the mission of elevating and enriching the Latin American fashion and design industry, aiming to make it more relevant.
Although the purpose of LAFS is to reunite the fashion community of the region, the founders of LAFS, Estefania Lacayo and Samantha Tams support strongly women´s empowerment, it is seen by the curated content addressed mainly for women. The majority of its attendees are women, it is clear that during the event, some leader’s speakers in the fashion, retail, and beauty industry were highlighted as models of inspiration for the younger entrepreneurs.
The event started with a conversation with the founders, they shared the growth of the event from 350 people in Rivera Maya in 2018, until this 2022 edition where the figure of attendees has increased dramatically. LAFS is a platform with several vehicles, one of them is the summit, plus TRIBU a professional networking network, among others.
They remarked that LAFS offers learning, new contacts, business opportunities, some of the tips they shared with the audience were to collaborate among creatives, professionalize the industry, be a creative but also a businessperson, to keep learning constantly, be persistent and keep dreaming.
An amazing panel for empowering entrepreneurs was: TAKING YOUR BUSINESS TO THE NEXT LEVEL, WITH THE PITCH TO LAFS WINNERS, moderated by Estefania Lacayo, where Kika Vargas, and Maygel Coronel, two successful Colombian designers, talked with their mentors Ramya Giangola, Founder of Gogoluxe and Stacey Caldwell, Founder of Caldwell Creative who helped them to take their business to the next level. From the victory of the Pitch to LAFS to making it to the most prestigious retail stores in the fashion industry, the Creative Directors shared all the details of their long but rewarding journey. Kika mentioned that the keys to her success are consistency, and perseverance to manage well the production and distribution of her company. Maygel pointed out that in her case, the key to success was to organize her production team, meet the needs of the market, to stick to her DNA.
Following the line of role models, Aerin Lauder, Founder & Creative Director of AERIN and Style & Image Director of Estée Lauder, had an intimate and inspiring conversation with Estefania Lacayo. Where she talked about the legacy of her grandma Estée Lauder and the challenges she faced when she founded her own brand AERIN.
During the panel: WHAT IT TAKES TO MAKE THE LEAP TO INTERNATIONAL SUCCESS. The entrepreneurs Catalina Álvarez & Mariana Hinestroza, Co-founders of Agua Bendita, a Latin American firm that succeeded locally to become an international success shared their exciting story, her learnings, and failures during their path to becoming of the most important Colombian brands globally.
The second day there was a panel: EVOLVING WITH THE TIMES WHILE PRESERVING YOUR DNA. Which was about the Experiential and influencer marketing are uprising, new generations are becoming fashion consumers, and market trends are changing at the pace of technologies, demanding us to structure a business plan aligned to the new era. In this conversation moderated by Donata Minelli, speakers Beth Buccini, Owner of Kirna Zabete - Sofía Tcherassi, Director of Ready-To-Wear at Silvia Tcherassi - Divya Mathur, Chief Merchant at Intermix discussed how to evolve with the times while preserving your DNA.
One of the most expected panels was HOW LAUREN SANTO DOMINGO AND JOHANNA ORTIZ INFLUENCED LATIN AMERICA AND FASHION AROUND THE GLOBE. Lauren Santo Domingo, co-founder and Chief Brand Officer of Moda Operandi - Johanna Ortiz - Founder & Creative Director of Johanna Ortiz. Both speakers with an unmatched charisma and warm attitude shared the fascinating story of how Lauren discovered Colombian designer Johanna Ortiz and how this relationship flourished over time. A tale that inspired Latin America and made the global fashion industry take a closer look into the region's talent and craftsmanship. Johanna advised that we do things right and with passion, that is important to be creative but also know about business. Lauren mentioned that Johanna is one of the best sellers of Moda Operandi.
Finally, in the last panel with the focus of women empowerment was a charge of Eva Hughes, Founder of Adira Consulting, she had a conversation with three powerful women on how leaders need to stay ahead of the game. Alexandra Wilkis Wilson, Co-founder of Clerisy Capital, Gilt & Glamsquad - Adriana Cisneros, CEO Cisneros - Sahra-Josephine Hjorth, Founder & CEO of CanopyLAB gathered on stage, discussed which were the most powerful tools to thrive in times of uncertainty, how leadership can be reshaped through authenticity, and the solutions to manage unstable markets. They also talked about adaptability and the "stress effect," about the subtle art of communicating under pressure, and explained why vulnerability is not a weakness but a golden strength.
These women highlighted what they have done to lead successfully: Be practical, have a vision, inspire your team, give a shot to prove what a member of your team can do, work with determination and be disciplined, love to learn, don't be afraid to ask, communicate clearly and finally being vulnerable as a leader makes you authentic.
During the event took place PITCH TO LAFS, the annual competition in search of the next great talents of Latin American fashion, in which five finalists by category (Latin American Designer of the Year, Latin American Accessories Designer of the Year, Positive Impact Project of the Year) present their marks or projects before a jury composed of twenty eminences of the category. During the pitch development process, participants receive in-depth consultancy to refine their proposals from outstanding teachers at Istituto Marangoni.
A funny fact is that all winners of this contest until this edition have been women: in 2018, Kika Vargas, in 2019, Maygel Coronel both, Colombians. 2022 was not the exception:
- In the category of Latin American Designer of the Year: Port de Bras by Clarissa Egaña, from Venezuela.
- In the category of Latin American Accessories Designer of the Year, Susana Vega Jewelry by Susana Vega, from Venezuela.
- In the category of Positive Impact Project of the Year:Annaiss Yucra, by Annaiss Yucra, from Peru.
During the three days of the summit, women were the stars. LAFS 2022 showed many stories of successful and powerful women in fashion, retail, and beauty, life stories that will surely mark the lives of the attendees and that will push them to fulfill their dreams and be like the panelists of this magnificent platform.