LAFS: changing Fashion in Latin America

Latin American Fashion Summit (LAFS)

Latin American Fashion Summit (LAFS) will take place from November 11 to 16, 2019 in Cartagena, Colombia. LAFS is a yearly conference of retail that gives opportunities to all entrepreneurs, designers, stylists, editors, students, top executives in the retail industry in Latin America and the Hispanics living in the USA to give them real opportunities to grow their businesses, the platform offers inspirational panels where attendees hear success stories from the most top designers and CEO´s in the retail industry all over the world, through workshops extremely tailor to people's needs and to amazing activations where people get to network not only with all these leaders but with their peers, attendees can potentially create amazing collaborations.

Our editor Lizet Esquivel had the opportunity to talk with one of the founders Estefania Lacayo to know more details about the event.

What activities will the attendees find?

You will find amazing activities this year, we have curated 2 days of panels  that will be at El Teatro de Heredia it is beautiful theater en la Ciudad Amurallada in Cartagena, you will find 2 parties, the first one that is on Tuesday, the theme of the party is El Amor en Los Tiempos del Cólera by Gabriel García Márquez, we are telling to all attendees  to be inspired by this the era  for the dress code you can network with a lot of people, the second day is a free night, people can explore Cartagena, but the whole day will be panels and the end of the day  from 6:30 to 7:30 we will  end the day with a networking activation at Casa 1537, which is a house we decided to rent for all our sponsors, activations, showroom in our Boho store.

"We´ll be doing a networking lunch in one of the days will be about females supporting females, while you are having lunch, there will be different entrepreneurs where we will be highlighting ways how we can all support each other more"

What we are doing different this year,  we will be having our first LAFS showroom, this is a showroom where over a hundred designers from all Latin America applied,  and 40 designers will exhibit their products inside the showroom, we invited 30 international buyers from the top retailers from all over the world to come to discover and network with these 40 designers, to come to discover  some of the best, beautiful and unique brands that we have to show them from Latin America. This year we also continue to have a store in partnership with  the store Boho Hunter that promotes Latin America design, you will find on the third day the tradeshow Coterie  is hosting a party for our 600 attendees which will be the end of the day on Thursday night, on Friday we are doing our closing party, that the theme of the party is glamour, think of 1950´s beautiful  countries like Cuba, Venezuela, those countries that women were extremely glamorous before these countries were affected by communist governments.

We will also find a pitch to LAFS where 108 designers from all Latin America, applied and we have 10 finalists this year, we have 20 judges from all over the world, that will decide who the winner is, last year was Kika Vargas from Colombia.

Finally many activations this year, Michael Kors is hosting a lunch on how to work with influencers, then we will have Farfetch is hosting an intimate conversation as a workshop, where Daniel Funis the head of Latin America speaking of Latin America challenges on e-commerce and also solutions and we have a partner with Tiffany that is giving us breakfast for Wednesday and Thursday at Teatro Heredia for all attendees.

There are a lot of fashion events in Latin America, what does LAFS make unique?

I think what LAFS is, we´re reuniting all of these events, I think it is amazing to see how many platforms like ours have the same mission what we do, that is empowering our community, but what LAFS is doing differently is that we  are collaborating with absolutely all of them, we are telling them once a year we need to come, exchange ideas, network with each other and create  a much more big impact at LAFS,  we collaborate with:  INEXMODA in Colombia, Procolombia, Mercedes Benz Fashion Week in Costa Rica, organizations in Peru, Ecuador, Bolivia, Argentina, this is not a competitive platform, this is just  a platform where we are uniting all of them together for once a year, all come together, we try to create change, we exchange ideas about the changes that are happening in retail and fashion, to find ways how we can make this industry much better, healthier and more sustainable place.

Why did you decide to organize the event in Cartagena, Colombia?

Colombia was obviously in our radar, in recent years, we have seen amazing designs coming from Colombia, I see Cartagena as a city so much to offer in a cultural aspect  that shows a lot of what Latin America is all about, so we decided to choose a city that we can show the world all these beautiful culture aspects that we have as a region, we thought Cartagena was the perfect a place for that, so we are very excited.

I had the opportunity to attend last year and I notice the majority of the attendees were women,  during the event there were very inspirational speeches given by talented leaders as  Eva Hughes and Alyse Nelson, how can LAFS support Women's empowerment?

Even though LAFS is not a women empowerment platform, Samantha and I are big supporters of Women empowerment, the way we are trying to make us as natural as possible is instead of talking in it, I continue to find this the division is to start talking more natural, just highlighting all those women that are creating changes, so stead of speaking so much about it how we need to create that change, we do it through giving them access to mentors, mentoring networking opportunities, giving access to all those women that  are starting their business, to give them access to women leaders that have already successful business giving them advice. We will have most women that are creating changes around the world, one of the biggest examples is Carolina Herrera, one of our panelist, she is one of the women who inspire us the most, she put Latin America on the radar in Fashion.

We are doing a panel on the big topic culture appropriation VS culture celebration in that the panel you will find mostly females, we have Rocio Arias  journalist from Spain, Ana Fries from Artesanias of Colombia, Nina Farran that has a retailer that only sells sustainable and social impact designers and so on. We'll be doing a networking lunch in one of the days will be about females supporting females, while you are having lunch, there will be different entrepreneurs where we will be highlighting ways how we can all support each other more.

Both of you are married and have kids, still, you organized a summit  with the highest quality and good taste,  how do you balance their personal and professional lives?

For myself, it is very challenging  I am still finding the way, but  I think, something I have been learning to do lately, I put my task of the day, I take my son to school in the morning at 8:15, unfortunately, I don´t drop off my daughter, because of I wouldn't have the chance to do both, so I go to the office and I organize myself, I do block times  where I respond emails, I do proposals, I follow up on things need to be done, I take conversations and I always at 5:30 I am back at home, I put my phone aside I leave it inside my bedroom, I give quality versus quantity time to my kids from 5:30 to 7:30, yes, unfortunately, I am not in there to be in tennis class, or karate class like I used to be before, but I give them quality time, we do homework, we play monopoly as a family, we have dinner together, I read them, the books before they go to bed.

I don't care anything can be potential happening in LAFS in those 2 hours, I will not find out what's happening because I don't have my phone with me, I do the same for the weekends, we spend the weekend out of East, in Bridgehampton where we go everything Friday afternoon we pick my son at school and my daughter, where is completely wild where we have a farm house, we have time in the natural space and outdoors, I dedicate those two days to them. As a woman entrepreneur you are constantly feeling guilty, I think  we all do but I think I finally got into a place where I am giving them a great example one day they will be thank for this.

Who can attend and why should they participate in this event?

Anybody that wants to be inspired by entrepreneurs, that are creating great changes in the world or have built an amazing business, or if you are an entrepreneur who started your business or have your business and you want to find ways how you can create changes in the business because so many changes are in retail, with all omnichannel marketing now, you have to focus on so many things, retail is still important, online and social media are important, working with influencers is important, regular media as well,  learning and adapting that to your business.

Students being inspired for coming because they could be inspired in something they maybe even know that about careers that exist. This event is great for learning, for yourself but also for networking, this is the new way of doing business, the most unique way to meet new people that have the same type of interest than you, it is this type of the platform,  so I think anybody can attend, anybody interested in wanting to network with people in  the retail industry in Latin America or  the international space, or you just a person that loves fashion. Students, entrepreneurs, designers, stylists, editors, CEOs, PR´s should attend, teachers of fashion to get content for their colleges.

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