Name: Vanessa Acosta
Current City: Los Angeles, CA
Hometown: Orange County, CA
LA Fashion Designer and Photographer Vanessa Acosta sees the world as a canvas for her creativity because she firmly believes that if everything doesn’t influence you, then nothing will.
"I need to let everything inspire me, even the unlikeliest details can push my creativity,” she says. “Whether it’s the Latina grandmother grocery shopping in Boyle Heights or the kids on their iPads in Westwood, it’s all material for my art.”
This mentality motivated her to quit her 9 to 5 so she could focus all her energy her creative passions. While it’s only been three months since, Vanessa is already photographing women all over Los Angeles while simultaneously creating new designs and building a name for herself in the fashion industry.
In a few sentences, please tell us about yourself:
I am a 27-year-old Latina of Bolivian and Argentine descent living in Los Angeles. I am founder and designer behind Paragon Desert, and am also known for my freelance photography on social media and branding. I am a first generation kid of South American immigrant parents, which is why I have created a clothing business that sheds more light on my culture. I am a Libra extrovert. I love dogs. I love traveling and I’m just a girl hustling in a city filled with talented folks.
When did you decide to pursue your current career path?
I attended an art academy as a preteen and advanced into freestyle oil painting, which in turn led to my intrigue with fashion design. I geared towards Monet paintings and simply loved their clothing and romanticized about their lives. The garments, the silks, the way the clothing draped on the body always caught my eye. I started to paint and draw the ripples and wrinkles on these women and that is where the domino effect began. I purchased my first “Vogue” magazine in seventh grade and would rip out the pages with the latest trends and paid close attention to the fabrics, etc. Then I began sketching my own designs and it has stuck with me since I was 13.
My photography on the other hand is a different story. I started two years ago when I craved a more creative life. Photography peaked my interest for I had always wanted to pursue it. Plus, photography and fashion go hand in hand and I realized it was better for me to know everything there is to know about photography so I could grow my business with my new acquired skills. Just anything involving the arts and creating puts me at ease.
How did you go from idea to execution?
My two skills that bring in my income are my designs and photography. For starters, design is a waiting game that requires patience and building from the ground up. I worked in the fashion industry for 7 years before letting go and becoming my own boss. I worked a full-time design job while simultaneously managing my side hustles after hours. You have to make sacrifices and it’s not easy, but if you have the passion and the drive for them then you’ll make it happen. I think a lot of people fail to share that you are a one-person team in the beginning, and you don’t start making a profit till later. But it’s worth it if you really love what you do. Additionally, it took years for me to find my aesthetic, to know what I wanted to design, and since I’m a Libra you could guess it was an indecisive game before I finally found my aesthetic.
Now, when it comes to my photography, the best advice I could give is you can do anything you want, you don’t have to fit yourself into a box. For years I thought I had to stick to one passion and only focus on one thing, but you can be many things. You can pick more than one career path, we don’t have to be so one-dimensional as humans. Do as much as you can, practice, work, put yourself out there. I did that with photography and in the last year, I’ve built a client base of hundreds of women because I was fearless, practiced and wasn’t apologetic about not going to school for it. You just need to trust that you have the eye and talent for it. You have to be confident!
Has rejection ever affected your creative process?
No, I don’t let rejection bother me or stop me from doing what I’m doing. I’m stubborn with my art. I stick with it even if rejection happens. I keep moving forward because someone out there will appreciate it. Just because rejection may come your way doesn’t mean you should give up. It’s just one person’s opinion and there are billions in this world who have yet to discover your art. I have never let rejection bother me, and if it did I wouldn’t be where I am.
Name 3 lessons you’ve learned from building your business:
1. Always stay organized. Have a planner! (I’m a planner girl.)
2. You have to put in three times the work to receive back just one fraction of success.
3. Patience is key.
What advice would you give to someone who wanted to pursue the same career as you?
Know how to do it all. Have a do-it-yourself personality. If you want to pursue design you should know Photoshop, Illustrator, Lightroom, sewing, pattern making, fabric sourcing. It is important to know everything because when you start your own business or launch your career, you should have an idea of all the steps that go into creating these products. From graphic designing your own business card and clothing tags, to knowing how to finish and stitch the hem of a pair of pants. From the littlest detail to the biggest, simply know it all.
What has been the pit and peak of your week so far?
Hmm pit and peak all happened within one hour yesterday when my scheduled photo shoots consumed me and I forgot about the deadline I had for an advertisement promoting my own designs. I somehow needed to come up with a full page design ad in under 24 hours, which I managed to finish within an hour. Yes, it was stressful, but I was very proud of myself when I finished and it got approved!
In your words, what does it mean to be a “creative”?
To create, being creative is creating.
What are your top resources for creatives and why?
I love Ted Talks! Sometimes I’ll listen to a Ted Talk and become so inspired I will have a completely new look on life. I can confidently say a handful of Ted Talks are the reason I do what I do for they have changed my life.
What are you working on that we should know about?
My clothing line Paragon Desert is growing rapidly. I have my popular in demand Frida Kahlo sets and of course my photography. I photograph women all over Los Angeles for social media and branding!
Finish this sentence:
I want people to remember me as: A good human being
If I only had 24 more hours to live I would do: Spend it with family and eat lots of ice cream and spaghetti.
If I had to choose a theme song to represent me it would be: “Antrozous” by Andrew Bird
Where can we find you?
Recently published on BUNCH Magazine