Woman in control is the underlying vision and inspiration behind the designs of LIA LARREA, but who is the woman behind these designs and how is she embodying this vision for herself?
Lia Larrea, the creative mind behind the LIA LARREA brand, whose passion for design started with coloring books and drawing shoes for characters that were commonly brought to life without any (think The Flintstones), began exploring her own imagination and desire to create things that were not just beautiful, but also practical at a young age. She quickly moved on from those early years of coloring books to free sketches inspired by people she encountered everyday. This encouraged her to design for a purpose combining practicality, carefully picked materials, and aesthetic beauty to solve problems. Through these creations she hopes to serve a greater cause inspiring women everywhere to ask the question, “What does a women in control mean to me, and how can I emulate that in my life making it my own through self expression?”
We sat down with Lia to get to the bottom of this exact question as it resonates within her, getting to know “The Woman In Control” that is Lia Larrea.
What does a Woman in Control mean to you personally?
“It is about being in charge of your own life, making your own choices, and being accountable for your own failures and successes. Ultimately, it is about your own freedom.”
What makes you a Woman in Control?
“Lately, I feel like it has been finding that control within the uncontrollable. It is a lot about growth and learning from mistakes, whether I like it or not. I am in control of my own life and the choices I make.
Before starting my own brand I chose to move to San Francisco and go to art school. After finishing I chose to quit my job and build my own business. I have been very lucky in that I have an amazing family and people that have helped me along the way, but it has also been my choice to let go of relationships that have hindered me and strived to surround myself with energy that fuels my life. I’m still learning everyday.”
What qualities/obstacles promote/hinder being a women in control?
“Confidence. Strength. Trusting in yourself. These qualities aren’t often associated with women. A woman in control carries herself confidently in a world where promoting these qualities isn’t a high priority. It's not about physical strength or how much money someone has, but about owning who you are, not being afraid to be yourself and being heard.
In many ways milestones have been made for women over the last few decades, but we still have a long way to go, especially when it comes to promoting confidence and self love in women. Two of my favorite quotes from Sheryl Sandberg’s book Lean In, “Motivation comes from working on things we care about. It also comes from working with people we care about,” and “What would you do if you weren’t afraid?” really resonate with me. Seeing women, like Sheryl, out there in the world being successful, confident, and hard working, are qualities in women I look up to and the kind of woman I want to encourage through my designs.
To me, a woman can be confident, smart, and capable of having a conversation in a variety of subjects. A woman in control is successful in her own way, and focused on living a happy life. She encourages herself to feel beautiful and confident in her own skin, and respects herself, whatever that may mean to her. She is a woman who is in control by choosing to be so.”
What was your first inspiration into fashion?
“Being confined to uniforms in school in Ecuador, I had to find ways to express myself and not feel like everyone else. I would do subtle things like rolling my sleeves or wearing a tighter fit polo shirt under the baggy sweaters, it had to be almost hidden, though, so that we wouldn't get called out by our teachers. I was also very much into 90s fashion. I would find ways to watch MTV music videos whenever I could just so that I could see what the American artists were wearing, crop tops with bell bottoms, chokers, platform shoes, etc.”
What inspired you to start designing?
“It was during one of my summer breaks, I was in second or third grade. In Ecuador, our teachers would give us notebooks to work on that we would turn in the following year. I think this was their way of ensuring we wouldn’t forget what they worked so hard on teaching us the year before. My parents supported this a lot, and they didn’t want us to be inside the house watching TV all day, so they bought us books and encouraged us to read. I didn’t really enjoy reading much, so I started going through Disney books and just looked at all the pictures. I would trace the cartoons, and then started drawing even more. I then realized I could change their clothes, and that’s when my imagination started coming up with all sorts of ideas. The first thing I drew were shoes, the Flintstones didn’t have any so I thought I’d design some for them. They were ugly shoe drawings, but it became something I loved doing, an outlet, my own creation.”
What do you love most about fashion and designing?
“The ability to make an idea, or anything that we imagine, tangible. I love the process! It could start with a dream, then a drawing, and then figuring out the puzzle of how to make it, choosing the right materials, going through many samples, and, finally, getting to be the first one that sees it. That’s my moment, I can touch it and see why that whole process was worth it.”
What does fashion mean to you?
“Fashion gives you the ability to express yourself in a world where sometimes not everyone is noticed or listened to. It is about being able to live your own lifestyle whether it is comfortable or edgy, whether it is about looking your best everyday or not caring at all. Fashion is not just in magazines and catwalks, it’s everywhere, and it has evolved so much over time. Today, we have more freedom as women to dress the way we want, and that is empowering. Therefore, fashion shows evolution, and a change in people’s mindset. The beauty of it for me, is that I get to make choices, exercising my freedom of expression, and also helping people to feel great and look their best at the same time.”
If you could say one thing to a young girl encouraging her to be a woman in control, what would you say?
“Take risks. By being uncomfortable we challenge ourselves to find new ways to achieve balance. When we don’t let our fears get the best of us, we may see that maybe things aren’t as bad as we had anticipated, and if they are then by embracing these challenges we give ourselves the opportunity to grow. So take risks, fail at something, learn and get back up again.”
Who are some of the people in the fashion and design industry who you admire/inspire you?
- Jean Paul Gaultier, he made himself be heard, and he wasn’t afraid to do so.
- Jack McCollough and Lazaro Hernandez of Proenza Schouler, who changed their careers, took risks, and despite being young proved themselves talented.
- Frida Kahlo because she was a fighter, and despite her physical condition, she took control of what she wanted to do. She was beautiful and sexy through her confidence, and she was not afraid to take risks and be different.”
"My leather bags, and midi rings."
Piece you can't live without?
"'En el pais del ciego el tuerto es rey,' It means that in the country of the blind, the one-eyed is the king."
One thing you can’t live without?
"My pencil and/or sketchbook"
Who is your hero? Why?
"My mom. Yes it’s cheesy but why not!
She always found ways to take care of us and make things happen.
By - Ashley Tateo | Photography - Ashley Tateo