Speak about your business to everyone and anyone, you never know how that person might be able to help you. I mention it as many times as possible, and great advice and connections came through that.
The COVID19 pandemic has disrupted all of our lives. But sometimes disruptions can be times of opportunity. Many people’s livelihoods have been hurt by the pandemic. But some saw this as an opportune time to take their lives in a new direction.
As a part of this series called “How I Was Able To Pivot To A New Exciting Opportunity Because Of The Pandemic”, I had the pleasure of interviewing Luciana Rozenberg, an Argentinian born, Brooklyn NY based fashion designer turned handbag designer. After being furloughed from her job in March, she was able to fully immerse herself In creating Naissant, a modular and consciously produced handbag collection designed for women who want both style and functionality. Fittingly, the word Naissant which means ‘rebirth’ as well as ‘evolution’ in French, gave Luciana the opportunity to evolve her career into her true passion.
Thank you so much for doing this with us! Before we start, our readers would love to “get to know you” a bit better. Can you tell us a bit about your childhood backstory?
I was born and raised in Argentina. My parents and my eldest sister are all architects, so I was exposed from a very young age to the design and building process. Watching it evolve from the ground up to the final stages of painting and interior design was always fascinating to me. At the age of 15 I started buying plain clothes and embroidering them because I wanted to have something that no one else would! I enjoyed it so much that I started sewing classes where I would design and make my own clothes. That’s when I knew I wanted to become a Fashion Designer.
Can you please give us your favorite “Life Lesson Quote”? Can you share how that was relevant to you in your life?
“Pedes in terra ad sidera visus” is one of my favorite quotes, as it is the essence of how I always want to be: “With my feet on the ground, but my eyes on the sky.” I strongly believe that no matter what we must stay humble and grateful for every little accomplishment while at the same staying focused on our goals and dreams.
Is there a particular book, podcast, or film that made a significant impact on you? Can you share a story or explain why it resonated with you so much?
Overdressed: The Shockingly High Cost of Cheap Fashion by Elizabeth C. Cline, was a book that changed the way I approached my fashion design process, it was truly eye opening. Working for larger corporate companies, I didn’t have much control over the raw materials or production process and I saw first hand the excess that the fashion industry was creating. I knew when I launched my line, I would design with a conscious mindset. Ensuring the raw materials, processes and production were done in a way that minimized the environmental impact and carbon footprint was a top priority.
Let’s now shift to the main part of our discussion. Can you tell our readers about your career experience before the Pandemic began?
I knew from a young age that I wanted to pursue fashion design, so in 2015 I moved from Argentina to NYC to attend The Fashion Institute of Technology. I graduated with a degree in Fashion Business Management and immediately landed an internship at Zac Posen. I then went on to work for the luxury eveningwear brand Marchesa as an Embroidery and Textile Designer followed by a position at the eveningwear and bridal brand THEIA, where I worked until the pandemic hit in March.
What did you do to pivot as a result of the Pandemic?
A week after the country went on lock down, THEIA furloughed all of their employees. For years I had been spending my days working for a paycheck and my nights were spent working on Naissant. For the first time since I conceived the idea of launching this handbag brand, I was actually able to work fulltime on it. Despite all the risks of starting a new business, during a pandemic no less, I decided to keep moving forward, and 7 months later, I launched it!
Can you tell us about the specific “Aha moment” that gave you the idea to start this new path?
One morning, back in 2017, my French roommate Kelly and I were preparing breakfast in the kitchen of our apartment. At the time, Kelly was a consultant working on a project at the Condé Nast offices downtown. That morning, she was carrying her worn-out simple, basic black tote and a reusable tote she got with a purchase from a store. With her eyes on the clock, Kelly explained the large black tote was full of workplace essentials, and she still needed space for her lunch and the rest of her belongings, so she had to take a second bag. Kelly is the type of girl that is fearless, smart, and very successful for her young age. She wants to look stylish and needs her accessories to go with her look. She mentioned she didn’t want to pay the high price of a designer bag, and that the rest of the products out there weren’t stylish enough nor functional. That is when I started researching the market thoroughly and realized that there was a void. There were many women like Kelly out there, wanting accessories that could be both functional and fashionable. Little by little I began working on Naissant…which means ‘rebirth’ as well as ‘evolution’ in French. The name was just perfect for what I aspire my line of handbags to be: in constant evolution.
While the idea of Naissant wasn’t new, the pandemic enabled me to pursue it and make the brand a reality.
How are things going with this new initiative?
I only launched less than three months ago, so it’s too soon to tell, but so far I’ve had several returning customers, so that’s already a great sign!
Is there a particular person who you are grateful towards who helped get you to where you are? Can you share a story about that?
My family, especially my parents. Both of them have been a great support since I decided to pursue my dreams. They have accompanied me every step of the way, being my number one fans and biggest supporters. But it wasn’t always like that… When I finished high school, I wanted to study Fashion Design but they weren’t completely convinced. They wanted me to study architecture and follow their steps, so I had to enroll in Fine Arts, and on the weekends attend a small Fashion School because they wanted me “to be sure that it was what I really wanted”. Two years later, and after a ton of hard work I completed the higher education course at the Red Millenium Fashion School. By then it reaffirmed what I knew all along…that I really wanted to pursue a Bachelor’s in Fashion Design, so I stopped studying Fine Arts and moved to Buenos Aires to pursue a Bachelor’s Degree in Fashion Design at Universidad de Palermo. From then on, they were supportive of my passion for fashion design.
Can you share the most interesting story that happened to you since you started in this new direction?
Over the holidays, I traveled home to Argentina. After landing back in NY, I was waiting to get off the plane and the woman behind me started telling how much she needed a bag like mine. I was carrying the Mina Tote which has tons of interior pockets and a sleeve on the outside of the bag that allows you to slide it on the handle of your carry-on. It’s perfect for traveling. As soon as I told her that I was the founder and designer of Naissant, she brought her whole family over to tell them about my products and show them all the features. It was a really cool experience to have a total stranger fall in love with my brand and tell others about it.
What are your “5 things I wish someone told me before I started leading my organization” and why. Please share a story or example for each.
Many of these I was told, but hearing them and living them are two different things:
- It will be the biggest and longest roller coaster you have ever been on. Being a solo founder can be a great and scary experience at the same time. There is so much risk, but so much reward. Every day is different and that is the most fascinating part of it.
- Don’t wait until it is perfect, go for it and then correct it. I waited a long time until I launched. I analyzed every single aspect of the business and the products, and that delayed my launch far too long. For designers like me, it’s difficult to not want your products to be perfect.
- Partners: Don’t choose your partners out of desperation, choose wisely as those relationships will impact your whole life.
- Have a network of founders that you can rely on: Your mental health is as important as your company’s numbers. Due to the everyday hustle, we tend to ignore what our body and mind need, but it’s very important to take a break, learn, reflect and then keep going.
- Speak about your business to everyone and anyone, you never know how that person might be able to help you. I mention it as many times as possible, and great advice and connections came through that.
So many of us have become anxious from the dramatic jolts of the news cycle. Can you share the strategies that you have used to optimize your mental wellness during this stressful period?
I have a great network of other founders that I reach out to when I feel very stressed. They are all amazing and generous people that would always calm me down and offer their help and expertise. I don’t know what I would do without them.
You are a person of great influence. If you could inspire a movement that would bring the most amount of good to the most amount of people, what would that be?
An environmental movement is the obvious one. According to The United Nations Environment Programme “The fashion industry is responsible for 10 % of annual global carbon emissions, more than all international flights and maritime shipping combined. At this pace, the fashion industry’s greenhouse gas emissions will surge more than 50 % by 2030.” If businesses would all take small steps towards becoming more sustainable the environment would reap huge benefits.
Another movement that I would love to inspire is one where fair labor practices and better working conditions are mandated across the supply chain. Growing up in a third world country like Argentina, I saw a lot of poverty and I can’t bear to see how little money all the people involved in the actual production of fashion goods make and the conditions they work in. On top of that, designers, atelier seamstresses, and patternmakers are also not remunerated for the hard work, and the long hours involved in the process. This needs to change.
Is there a person in the world whom you would love to have lunch with, and why? Maybe we can tag them and see what happens!
I would love to have lunch with Emily Weiss, founder of Glossier. I’ve followed her career since she started. She’s built an incredible business and is an amazing disruptor of the beauty industry. She inspires me and I would love to change the accessories market the way she revolutionized the beauty industry.
How can our readers follow you online?
They can follow me personally on Instagram at @lulurozenberg and Naissant at @naissantnyc
Thank you so much for sharing these important insights. We wish you continued success and good health!