Sometimes you stumble across someone in life who truly takes you by surprise: this is the case with Alicia Sanchez. I met her approximately 6 years ago in South Florida when I was introduced to her clothing brand: FAVALA. I remember the first thought that came to mind when meeting this individual was: happy. The smile on her face pierced through me and no matter the mood I was in, always put one on my face as well.

A year into our working relationship, I met with her to discuss a celebrity outreach project when she informed me that she was diagnosed with late stage breast cancer. I couldn’t believe it because as she said the news to me and I did what anyone else would’ve done – panicked, she kept a smile on her face & assured me that all would be “alright”. To see such strength and courage in such a young woman was something that I’ll hold with me for life.

The odds were against her and she was told numerous times she only had a few months left – she opted for natural treatment when there was nothing left for the doctors to do, and returned to her hometown of the Dominican Republic. Amazingly, everyday from when she was diagnosed to when she thought the end was near, she kept her dreams alive with FAVALA. New collections were constantly being showcased and she never quit on her dream.

It’s now been years and Alicia Sanchez is making a splash worldwide. FAVALA – the brand – is stronger than ever along with many projects that have come to life in the last year, including a published book – as you’ll read in the amazing interview I had the pleasure of assembling. I don’t know about you guys but to me, this woman is the real deal and we can all learn a thing or two about not giving up on dreams. Nothing is impossible when you really believe and  persevere.

[separator type=”double”]

WBM: How did your background lead you to where you are today as a woman?

ALICIA: As a Latina, our culture has evolved tremendously and being a statistic is something I refused to be identified with. I was brought up in a very strict household but again very loving , traditional and supportive. I knew as a child that whatever I wanted to do in life, the end goal was to encourage inspire and motivate others to not let their cultures or traditions become who they are but to embrace and be proud and let their individuality and personal beliefs make a way for them in life through the passions they empathize with – whether in fashion , art , music or sports.

WBM: Tell me a bit about where you were raised?

ALICIA: I was born in Lynn, Mass and spent most of my childhood in Delray Beach, FL. Since I am from Dominican Republic, we often visited there as well as made several trips to NYC to visit family.

WBM: What led you to the FAVALA brand?

ALICIA: Wow ! I would have to say my vision and passion for design started in High school. I attended a performing arts school where costume design , dance and theater were my focus. I had a way with expressing what I loved through fabric . After that in college I made that reality come true and gave it a name when i started in my dorm room making outfits for college kids to go dancing. My recent book “Climbing the Fence : A journey of traveling words” reflects on how it all really started and how my hunger for living my dream was always my focus.

WBM: What is a key lesson you’ve learned along the way?

ALICIA: I have 3 major ones 1.Learning is growing- you can never know too much so don’t ever act like a know it all or as if though you don’t need help from others 2. Confidence & Faith – if you don’t believe in god then believe in something positive that will pick you back up when things get rough and have the confidence that no matter what you will succeed 3. Do good and Good will come : Its a small world afterall and everything we do gets noticed. Give from the heart , do things with love and treat others with respect even if they treat you bad because the fruits of your labor will never go in vain.

WBM: Think of these four characteristics of entrepreneurs: heart, smart, guts, luck. Which one were you?

ALICIA: I would say heart and guts for me because everything i do is done with love and guts because I don’t think about it twice and I don’t second guess the outcome . If I fall I rise up and work at it and if I fly then i take a glass of wine and cheers to the world. Fear is non existent in my book because sometimes we think about things too much and never do it . Whats the worst that can happen? and who cares because once done, that energy will just keep you wanting more :)

WBM: What has been your highest moment in the fashion industry and your lowest?

ALICIA: My highest moment was being on the same stage where Oscar De la Renta showcased at Dominican Republic Fashion Week. Being in my home country and really seeing my final production fulfill the sweat and tears i put into Favala.

My lowest would have to be when I was at chemotherapy and glanced over the time at one point – the thought that I did not have the energy to create, to sew, to design, to be inspired killed me. All the air I breathed in fashion was taken from me and I thought I would never see that again.

WBM: Where do you see yourself in five years?

ALICIA: The Favala brand has grown so much and is no longer just a clothing line. We now do brand management for independent designers and retailers. We have a network of bloggers called Blog City – an audience of fashion enthusiasts who support “The Dream Project” in the Dominican Republic – a company providing tools to those who want a chance to learn how to read and write. Alicia and her team will be assembling their first trip to deliver goods on March 2013. On January, 2013 she has plans on launching: La Sewing Café in South Florida – a place where kids from the ages of 7 to 16 are invited to come in and design/sew & let their imaginations soar.

FAVALA is not just fashion – It’s a Lifestyle.

I focus on the present but in 5 years ideally FAVALA will be an avenue where other designers can build an empire and help others.

WBM: Who currently is your style icon?

ALICIA: I have many that range from high fashion to a mom blogger who is just killing it with personal style. Personal style and personalities captivate me. “I love love love Betsy Johnson and J-LO. Both very different but fierce wardrobe!”. Marilyn Monroe, Donna Summers and the list goes on…

WBM: Fashion item you can’t live without?

ALICIA: Pink lipstick and any sexy 5 inch heeled shoes!

Favala

[separator type=”thin”]

FOR MORE ON ALICIA SANCHEZ AND FAVALA:

WEBSITE: www.favaladesigns.com