Designer Isabella BrandaoIsabella Brandao was initially directed towards fashion design by her mother, but she wouldn’t have had it any other way. Her clothing brand Alleb Asor demonstrates her love for her family and celebrates the many strong women in her life. The name is a tribute to the strong bond between Isabella and her mother, Rosa, combining both of their names into one. While it is not a “mother-daughter” brand, Isabella’s goal is to reach a broader market of customers with her minimalist contemporary collections specifically geared toward the “young and the young at heart.”  Her fashion icons include Tracee Ellis Ross, Rachel Roy, and Solange. We chat with Isabella about getting started young, the important women in her life and getting inspired by great movies.

You mentioned your mom – how has she played a role in your brand development?

I began designing when I was fourteen years old. I learned to sew at the Bird Street Community Center in my neighborhood. They offered a girl’s fashion entrepreneurship summer program that continued into the school year. After some convincing from my mother, I joined the program. After my first year, I had gained basic sewing and entrepreneurship skills. I was a part of the program for about 3 years, first as a student, then later as an assistant teacher. I used the skills I learned in the program to showcase my own designs. Between the ages of 15-18, my designs were featured in more than 20 local fashion shows and between the ages of 18-20, I was creating custom garments for my own clientele. I was able to this with my mother’s help. She would take me to local fabric stores around Boston and I would create a collection to showcase. She is the person who gave me the courage and the belief that I could do anything I put my mind, heart, and soul into. With Rosa’s encouragement and motivation, Alleb Asor transpired and I have my mom to thank for that.

You’ve been a part of the Nineteenth Amendment community for a while now – what made you get started?

I first heard of Nineteenth Amendment from a friend. I reached out to the founders to get a better understanding of the platform and thought it would be a perfect fit. I have been making it my mission to launch my collection with them since 2013.

You’re finally launching your collection with your new brand – can you tell us a bit more about the inspiration (especially the connection between the two decades that inspire you)?

The 1920s and 1970s are the inspiration for the 140 collection. We felt during these eras women were true to themselves and felt free to do whatever they pleased. Women were a part of many changes at these times. They fought for what they believed in. While developing the designs, we paid attention to what the women were wearing, reading, listened to music, and watched such as The Great Gatsby and Scarface.

What is your fashion philosophy?

I believe in being yourself and letting your fashion choices speak to who you are. The values my family has instilled in me also influence my clothing decisions. I believe in quality over quantity. I didn’t grow up with a lot of resources so I made use of what I had. I usually shop at bargain stores that have high-quality garments. I believe that less is more and I try to be as versatile as possible when styling my daily looks.

How has your design changed over time?

Before introducing Alleb Asor, our designs weren’t true to the brand we have today. They were very trend based and weren’t mindful of versatility and quality. Now we design with our customer in mind. The fashionable busy working women in their late 20s or early 30s knows what she wants. By having a better understanding of our customer, we keep her needs in mind while staying true to our aesthetic when designing.

What is your biggest hurdle in building a brand today?

Keeping our clothing distinctive. It is easy to get lost amongst the many other fashion brands in the world. Social media and fashion technology are giving people more ways to access to a variety of brands. We always try to think of ways to make us different. We do that mainly by promoting our values: being authentic, focusing on yourself, and empowering other women.

What do you think about fashion today?

Living in the world of fast fashion, I am highly against staying on trend or following the numerous amounts of seasons in the fashion industry. We want to take Alleb Asor slow. Our goal is to release four collections per year. Because of the rise of social media, fashion today is more accessible than it has ever been. You can easily track data and feedback in order to better understand your customer and your brand. Overall, I feel the fashion industry today is becoming more mindful of its effect on the world, It is changing into something better.

Where do you go and what do you do for inspiration?

Gather inspiration usually involves a lot of research both online and at the library. Staying up to date with fashion influencers and other artists is also important.

Any tips and tricks of the trade?

For anybody aspiring to be something great in the fashion industry, keep going, surround yourself with people who support you, and stay true to yourself. I have no idea where I would be without my determination and the encouragement of my family and friends. Being a business women in itself is a lot of work. I have been working towards my dreams and goals for almost 10 years now and it’s been a long journey but I am just getting started. I never am going to give up. Finally, be sure to build amazing relationships within your network. There are people that I connected with at 15 that I can still contact for support at the age of 23.

Behind every powerful woman…there’s a sewing machine 🙂 See what Isabella just launched: