“You can always take something positive out a negative experience.” With Dr. Ely Weinschneider & Cenia Paredes

You can always take something positive out a negative experience: Despite the fear and anxiety caused by effect of the situation towards my business, I have enjoyed working from home, spending more time with my loved ones and not having to do my daily commute to the city. Difficult situations help you become more creative […]

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You can always take something positive out a negative experience: Despite the fear and anxiety caused by effect of the situation towards my business, I have enjoyed working from home, spending more time with my loved ones and not having to do my daily commute to the city. Difficult situations help you become more creative

As a part of my series about the things we can do to remain hopeful and support each other during anxious times, I had the pleasure of interviewing Cenia Paredes.

Cenia Paredes grew up in a family dedicated entirely to dress making in her native Dominican Republic. From an early age she helped her mother choose fabrics, participated in fittings and sketched designs for her mother’s clients. By age 11, Cenia was fully immersed into the custom-made dress business to help her family.

After immigrating to the USA in 1990, Cenia graduated Summa cum Laude from the prestigious Fashion Institute of Technology in 2004. She then worked in New York’s competitive fashion district for various renowned brands, but always kept her dream of designing her own line as her ultimate goal. In 2009, Cenia launched her first ready-to-wear collection, Cenia New York®. The initial collection was a line of day-to-evening dresses with a revolutionary fit concept. The collection consisted of offering four distinctive fits for that catered to the most predominant female body types. Cenia New York was the first and only designer in fashion history to implement this concept and bring it to a major department store in the USA. Cenia caters to the woman who embraces her curves, is sassy, self secure and wants to look tastefully sexy and radiant no matter what size or body shape.

In 2011, Cenia was chosen among 900 companies as one of the 22 participants of TheWorkshop At Macy’s, and she was one of 4 vendors chosen to launch her product in selected stores in the June 2012 season. Since then, Cenia has expanded her distribution to specialty stores globally and has expanded her line to include plus sizes. Cenia’s dresses were sold on HSN and Shopping Life 24 in Russia in 2016. In 2019, Cenia was one of the winners of “The Big Find,” a reality competition for inventors launched by QVC/HSN, propelling Cenia to launch her patent-pending Cenia Convi Jean on HSN in the Spring of 2020.

In 2016, Cenia was one of the design entrepreneurs chosen from over 200 applicants to participate in the mini Fashion Business MBA FITDE, sponsored by FIT and industry leaders such as GIII, and has been invited as a mentor and speaker to subsequent FITDE classes. Cenia is proud to give back and support her beloved alma mater by teaching Tools Of The Trade to the new generation of Fashion Designers.

Cenia has been featured in major media outlets such as The Today Show, CNN, Telemundo, Univision,The Style Network, El Diario La Prensa, The New York Times, Huffington Post Voces, WWD, Bloomberg News Week, La Nueva Voz Latina, NY Daily News, Glamure, Buzz Feed, Latina, Siempre Mujer, Oh Magazine, People En Espanol, Pop Sugar and many others. In addition, Cenia’s dresses are often wore by celebrities including Lin-Manuel Miranda’s wife and mom Vanessa Nadal and Luz Towns -Miranda, Gloria Estefan, Dascha Polanco, Evette Rios, Julissa Bermudez, Adrienne Bailon, Alejandra Ora, amongst others.

Thank you so much for doing this with us! Our readers would love to “get to know you” a bit better. Can you share with us the backstory about what brought you to your specific career path?

Igrew up in a family dedicated entirely to dress making in my native country, the Dominican Republic. I studied at the Fashion Institute of Technology and graduated with my degree in 2004.

From there, I went on to work for various prestigious designers and eventually launched my first ready-to-wear collection, Cenia New York, in 2009.

Is there a particular book that made a significant impact on you? Can you share a story or explain why it resonated with you so much?

Yes. The Alchemist by Paulo Coelho. It resonated with me because it told the a story about the importance of following one’s dreams and destiny and the importance of perseverance.

Ok, thank you for all that. Now let’s move to the main focus of our interview. Many people have become anxious from the dramatic jolts of the news cycle. The fears related to the coronavirus pandemic have heightened a sense of uncertainty, fear, and loneliness. From your perspective can you help our readers to see the “Light at the End of the Tunnel”? Can you share your “5 Reasons To Be Hopeful During this Corona Crisis”? If you can, please share a story or example for each.

  1. You can always take something positive out a negative experience: Despite the fear and anxiety caused by effect of the situation towards my business, I have enjoyed working from home, spending more time with my loved ones and not having to do my daily commute to the city.
  2. Difficult situations help you become more creative; the current situation has forced me find new alternatives when it comes to logistics to get my goods to my customers, to be more pragmatic and more efficient and proactive.
  3. You can always learn new lessons and evolve by going through a hardship: In my case, the current situation has helped to improve my digital marketing skills. I have had to make videos showing my line to store buyers because the most important markets were cancelled. I have dedicated more time to social media marketing and blast email campaigns.
  4. Going into difficult situations makes you appreciate the blessings you already have more. This situation has made me reflect on how lucky I am to be healthy, to have loving and supportive family and friends.
  5. Difficult situations can also help you see the bigger picture. For me, this situation has made me feel a sense of community and purpose bigger than myself. And the importance of caring and helping each other for the common good.

From your experience or research what are five steps that each of us can take to effectively offer support to those around us who are feeling anxious? Can you explain?

  1. Staying in touch and making sure we maintain communication with our loved ones, especially those who are elderly or have special needs is of utmost importance.
  2. Being supportive and open to listen: Be willing to be there or run and errand for those who are in need or most vulnerable or just simply being open to listening and offering words of hope.
  3. Also, staying at home, of course, helps slow down the curve of contagion.
  4. Donating to your favorite charity or hospital helps other in need.
  5. And finally, being respectful and considerate of others needs.

What are the best resources you would suggest to a person who is feeling anxious?

Talking to a friend or relative that cares has helped me tremendously. Also, filtering information received through media outlets to make sure information comes from trusted sources and authorities.

If you are a spiritual person, reach out to your pastor, reverend, priest.

Can you please give us your favorite “Life Lesson Quote”? Do you have a story about how that was relevant in your life?

“Never give up. You only get one life. Go for it”.

I’ve dreamt of being a fashion designer and launching my own line ever since I was a little girl living in the middle of no where in a small village of the Dominican Republic, where I had to shower outside and walk 4 miles to go the nearest school. Coming from a very humble family, it seamed almost impossible to accomplish my dream. But through relentless persistence, believing in myself no matter what and working my butt off, I made it happen. I came to NYC, put myself through college while working full-time, graduated Summa Cum Laude from FIT, worked in NYC’s competitive Fashion Industry, and launched my own brand and company. Today, despite many setbacks and failures, my line is sold at specialty stores nationwide and internationally, and my denim line will be launching at HSN this spring after winning the QVC/HSN’s national open call for new products The Big Find. So, take risks, believe in yourself and go for it.

You are a person of great influence. If you could start a movement that would bring the most amount of good to the most amount of people, what would that be? You never know what your idea can trigger. 🙂

I grew in a community where the lack of education caused a lot of underage marriages and unwanted pregnancies in girls. My idea is to start a foundation to educate girls in developing countries on family planning and implement programs to enable them to be financially independent.

What is the best way our readers can follow you online?

Instagram/Facebook: @ceniany

Thank you for these fantastic insights. We wish you only continued success in your great work!

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