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Designer Spotlight: The Art of Fashion With artTECA
Claudia and Flavia Giardinella are sisters who took diverging paths in life before coming together to create artTECA, a Miami-based women’s ready-to-wear apparel and accessory brand that combines art and fashion to create unique, wearable art.
Art is rooted in the sisters’ culture – they grew up in a family of art collectors. They have lived in many different cities – among them, Miami, New York, Los Angeles and Caracas, Venezuela, where art is an important part of the culture.
I had a chance to interview Claudia and Flavia and find out more about them, artTECA and how they are helping to expand the opportunity for art development in their local community.
I’m always been curious as to how people find their niche in life, and the path they took to get there. Give me a peek into your backgrounds and how you collectively came to create artTECA.
CLAUDIA: I graduated in Broadcast Journalism from the University of Miami. After working in a local TV station for a short while, I worked in the non-profit world as a Fundraising Director for Education Programs in Latin America.
FLAVIA: I went to college in Connecticut and got my master’s in visual arts administration from New York University. I’ve worked in art galleries and art museums.
artTECA came from the idea of mixing two creative fields: art and fashion. Besides being very much involved with art all our lives, fashion has always been one of our passions. For us, the idea was very organic. We wanted to fuse art and fashion in a different, creative way by uniting our backgrounds of art and non-profit and creating a brand that gives back to the community.
When blending art and fashion, what is artTECA’s vision?
Our name artTECA is a combination of two words: art and “teca” which, in ancient Latin, means gallery. Our vision is for your closet to look like a gallery of wearable art that inspires, personally resonate with you, and offers you a sense of confidence and empowerment.
Your Athena Capsule Collection featuring designs by Carolina Gómez is captivating. What inspired you to create the collection and what does it represent?
We felt very inspired by the recent women’s movement towards gender equality and rights. As female entrepreneurs, we have felt the discrepancy between the genders and can identify with all these women brave enough to speak out and foster change. Their actions inspired us to create the Athena Capsule Collection to help women in a more direct way.
We found artist Carolina Gomez Diaz, who is a very talented Colombian artist and has exhibited in the U.S. and Latin America. Her work paired perfectly with our concept. She paints portraits of famous women and hides their face with a jewel. By covering their faces, she hides their true identity, touching upon many subjects women deal with: beauty, trust identity, self-worth and, most importantly, empowering women to have a voice no matter who you are. You don’t have to be known to make a statement. We paired these images with phrases that identify all women: Beautiful Soul, Born Wise, and Conquer the World. These phrases come from quotes of these famous ladies, to unite and empower us.
A percentage of sales from the collection is donated to Lotus House, a Miami Organization that has a beautiful mission to provide shelter, education, and food to women who have gone through domestic violence. We love their work in the community, so we felt it was the perfect organization to partner with.
I’m sure a lot of planning and work goes into your design process to get the look and pieces you envision. What is that process like?
First, we design our collection and the fabrics we want to use in that particular collection. Then we look at the artists we have on our roster and contact them about a possible collaboration. After we have the artist on board, we start designing the print of the fabric.
We decide which designs and prints go with each piece and make the final round. Once we have this, we start sampling the fabric until we get the perfect details, colors, and quality. Once the sample prices are approved, we go into production. We start with our fabrics. Once we have the fabrics in-house, we move on to the production of our collection.
It’s a very lengthy process with many creative stages, but we’re very proud of our accomplishments with each collection and we love our designing process. Thanks to our process, we can achieve the best results and offer women something truly special, unique and of high quality.
You mentioned the artists on your roster. How do you select them, and what is the process like from inception to completion?
We’re very much in tune with the art scene and we curate the artists and the artwork very carefully. We attend art fairs, galleries, and museums along with following art publications and visiting artists’ studios. We collaborate with artists from all over the world including the United States, Latin America and Europe. It’s a very diverse group and artwork.
We have a set of criteria for selecting our artist partners. We look for established and emerging artists who have serious and promising careers. So far, we’ve collaborated with 16 artists and we’re constantly sourcing new artists for future collections. Once we find an artist we’re interested in, we contact him or her and we start the collaboration process. We then look at their roster of images and works and pick the ones we feel go best with each collection.
Who do you design for? Who are the women that shop at artTECA?
We design for all women who are juggling life: motherhood, a career, family, etc. We make our clothes with her in mind, to provide her the perfect piece that represents who she is. With artTECA, she doesn’t have to waste time in the morning thinking about what to wear. She can pair our pieces with any basic and walk out the door looking chic, sophisticated and most importantly, confident and comfortable. Our pieces give her the flexibility to go throughout her day ready for whatever it brings her, whether it’s a meeting, business dinner or date night.
The woman that shops at artTECA doesn’t want to sacrifice comfort for style; she wants both! She’s also concerned about giving back and making her community a better place. What is a better combination?
Are you strictly an online boutique or can people shop in a brick and mortar store?
We have an amazing online boutique and work very hard to offer a user-friendly buying experience. We are available in many boutiques around Miami and are constantly expanding our specialty boutique list.
We also welcome anyone to stop by our showroom in Miami to look at our collection and try-on a few pieces!
Miami is an energetic and pulsating city, and there are a lot of boutiques. What makes artTECA stand out from the crowd?
We’re very proud of our city. It’s vibrant and diverse with so many talented and unique designers from all over the world, especially Latin American designers.
What makes us stand out is our wearable art concept and the collaboration with our artists. We’re not only one designer, we’re are a team of creative people that come together to create unique styles. We offer something unique and exclusive that you can’t find anywhere else. We want women to express themselves through their clothes so that they embrace themselves and feel confident.
Earlier, you spoke about donating proceeds of sales to Lotus House. It’s wonderful to see companies give back to their communities. Tell me more about artTECA’s social initiative and community involvement.
From the beginning, we knew we wanted to build a company that would make an impact on our community considering Claudia’s background with non-profit organizations.
That is why, as part of our mission, artTECA is committed to assisting art educational programs to expand the opportunity for art development in our local community. We want to offer children of low-income communities and public schools the opportunity to benefit from learning art. To achieve this, artTECA has partnered with Miami-based non-profit organization Bakehouse Art Complex (BAC) to support the organization’s art education programs for children by annually donating a percentage of sales.
As we grow, we not only have plans to increase our support to BAC, but also other organizations, like the collaboration we are currently working with Lotus House.
artTECA combines art with fashion and classic with modern. The result is timeless pieces to fill your closet and tell a story. artTECA is not just wearable art – they are a company with a conscious on a mission to help women feel unique and fashionable.
artTECA, 6300 NE 4th Ct., Miami, FL 33138
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About The Author
Valerie Albarda is a Women’s Empowerment & Transformation Coach, author, midlife blogger and creator of Midlife-A-Go-Go. In her everyday life, she’s wife to Maarten, mom to dog Chaka and active in and around her community. Follow Valerie on Twitter @MidlifeAGoGo