As we start moving into sunny weather, I am just dying to find the perfect swimsuit for lounging in the sun or that go-to athleisure set for working out. Trying to find the perfect fit can be hard, but with a brand like Port de Bras, you can’t go wrong! Port de Bras is a family-owned business, based out of Venezuela, producing everything from stylish swimwear pieces and essentials, to the “safe for skin” athleisure line. The boss lady behind it all, Clarissa Egaña, makes sure that she is creating a line that is both sustainably sourced and ethically made. Whether it’s a trip to the beach or a quick sweat sesh, the fabrics you’re wearing are important (and looking cute while you are doing it is a plus!) During a time like this, athleisure wear is becoming a big part of the fashion industry, and this brand is growing in the blink of an eye – you don’t wanna miss it!
Keep reading to hear how the brand has evolved through Clarissa’s eyes, and hear her story…
Tell us a little bit of your background and how you began Port de Bras, making it the success story it is today?
I was raised in Caracas, Venezuela where I attended Law School. During that time, I started my first swimwear company using the same Brazilian fabrics we use now, which was a big hit since we would customize and create made-to-order pieces for our local market. By the age of 23, I returned to the States where I started a corporate career within big companies like History Channel, Cartier and a very lucrative job in Luxury Real Estate. I had a well-off life that kept me content but did not give me a feeling of success or accomplishment, and I began searching for that sense of happiness I remembered having on many days as a swimsuit designer. I realized how much I needed to create something, a movement of some sort. I needed to create change, live up to my full potential and search for the fulfillment I once felt. So, we decided to give life to Port de Bras, move back to Venezuela, and make it as meaningful and sustainable as possible.
As a designer myself, getting inspired is the key element to a successful collection. What types of things inspire you when beginning a new collection?
The pieces I design are a reflection of my life and style. The brand and I have evolved together, when I first started Port de Bras, I had just had a baby, was working from home, and my main social event of the day was barre class. That’s why activewear became my main need. Little by little, my older kid started growing up, I had school meetings (not an event suited for leggings), I had to travel constantly for work, attend multiple fashion events as a speaker and special guest, and none of these situations were activewear friendly. That is why we started evolving our athleisure line. This brand has my soul, and I like to wear my soul everywhere I go.
With sustainability on the rise for the fashion industry, you mentioned keeping your brand as sustainable as possible. What is your take on creating sustainable actions for your brand?
My idea of sustainability doesn’t rely on where and how we can do LESS damage… but where or how we can create MORE positive impact. My team and I are always in a constant search for initiatives that will allow us to be an agent of change with added value and we thrive for creative ideas that will inspire others around us to do the same. The latter being the most important as we are all connected and real evolution can only happen as a collective force and not only individually.
What makes Port de Bras stand out against all of the other athleisure companies on the market?
Our mission, our passion and how genuine we are. I had no experience in the fashion industry, and that made me a rebel. I focused on selling direct to consumer, ignored the fashion calendar, underestimated big retailers and created a fashion universe of my own. Without raising capital, hiring third parties for sourcing, consulting, nor manufacturing, and working without a PR firm and sales rep, we embarked on this journey listening only to our clients and my intuition. That’s why Port de Bras fits so well, cares so much, feels so different and creates such a huge wow factor.
Can you describe how you start designing a collection?
It happens very spontaneously, usually a need of my own to wear something for a specific place, occasion or simply a whim. I create a figure in my head, draw, search for pictures that illustrate different parts of the piece and make a collage out of it. I do it for every piece and then I hang those on the wall. It allows me to remove, add or make changes as a whole. I never stop creating, I don’t wait for the season or market to dictate the beginning of a collection, we just flow with our own rhythm.
For anyone who wants to pursue a career in fashion, what advice can you give?
To dream big but start small, that’s the advice I received from Carmen Busquets a few of years ago and I had trouble understanding why this super powerful woman would tell me to start small, instead of talking about seeking funding, advising on how to value our company and partner our way to success. Today, I not only thank her for giving us that piece of advice, I take the liberty of advising the same to younger designers. There is nothing more genuine, satisfying, liberating and successful than making it without foreign capital and without paying a huge PR firm to make you stand out from the beginning. Nothing beats the satisfaction of seeing your brand grow and sustain its own growth organically. It’s the only way to really embark on the journey to understand your consumer, test your product, your strategy, your resources, your own drive and capacity to run a bigger business later on. Those are the best tools and the real value you bring to the table in a later stage. At this point, I have no business partners other than my own husband with whom I share the most important things in my life. So for now we still dream big, very big, but we are fine with the time it takes to grow!
At BELLA, our tagline is “Beauty Defined by You,” so how would you define beauty?
Belleza… As a Venezuelan, the concept of beauty has been a big part of my life growing up. It’s funny how maturing and growing changes all perspectives, today I find beauty in a person’s eyes, what they hold inside. Is she beautiful? Look at her in the eye, that will tell, the rest is just makeup and you can’t put make up on someone’s soul.
Lastly, where can everyone follow you for more upcoming information on any new projects, releases, etc.?
Follow us on Instagram @portdebras
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