You can't go wrong with a clothing line whose sole purpose is to spread a positive message of peace, love, and happiness. When Cuban-born creator and visionary, Alina Villasante, started hosting a 'Love Party' for friends in her living room just for the sheer pleasure of getting friends together to swap her trademark symbol t-shirts, she never imagined that a side hobby would become a global fashion phenomenon.
At the intersection of glamour and comfort, Peace Love World is not just about clothes, it's a way of life- one that is always inspiring the modern day woman to give back while looking incredibly chic in the process. And it's not just Miami locals sporting her inspirational threads. Celebrities from Oprah to Jennifer Lopez and even the Kardashian clan, have been spotted donning some of the line's comfy zip up hoodies and cotton tanks. One of her pieces even made it all the way to the Oscars, when host Ellen de Generes, kicked back in her very own 'Happy' hoodie.
Now with a Pharrell (the king of Happy) collaboration and a newly inked NBA deal to design womenswear for all 30 teams, Alina and her 'little passion project that could' are ready to take over the world. This very savvy and talented business woman took time from her work travels to dish on how her love of Miami and family continue to be the driving force behind her hard-working success. Oh, and she mentions some big names too.
FSF: First off, I want to say Congrats on your success and being able to bring a positive message of love into people's closets. And to think this all evolved from a party in your own living room! When did this idea become bigger than just something you shared with close friends and family?
PLW: I’ve always loved fashion but Peace Love World began as a hobby. I wanted to make gifts for my closest friends and the special women in my life. While I was still working in the aviation industry my children went out and sold Peace Love World and their sales surpassed any expectations I had. From there we opened our first store with the help of my best friend, Alex Abril, in 2009.
FSF: How much does Miami influence your style and the pieces in your line?
PLW: I love living in Miami. My style and designs are influenced by a lot of things such as people and growing up as a Latin woman in New York, but my life in Miami is a key influence. One of my favorite styles, “I love Sundays”, was inspired by spending time outside and on the water with my family. Even our NBA collection is inspired by Miami! The success of our first designs for the Miami HEAT last year were what inspired us to apply for an NBA license. Now we’re designing women’s apparel for all 30 NBA teams! Everything we design for Peace Love World is about spreading peace, love and happiness and creating clothing that people can feel chic, comfortable and relaxed in.
FSF: Countless celebs like the Kardashians, Jennifer Lopez, and Sofia Vergara have been seen sporting the brand. Talk about a surreal moment! Describe the feeling of seeing something you created make it's way to mainstream fashion?
PLW: Every time I see someone wearing Peace Love World, whether it’s a celebrity like Jennifer or Oprah or just someone I see across the street, it feels really special. I honestly am still excited every time I see someone wearing our brand.
FSF: Do you remember the first celeb that wore your brand?
PLW: The first celebrities to wear Peace Love World were Jeanine Mason when she was on So You Think You Can Dance and Jennifer Lopez.
FSF: You have collaboration with Pharrell and also with the NBA. How did that come about?
PLW: Our collaboration with Pharrell and decision to design NBA-licensed apparel were both very organic. Pharrell discovered our “Happy” hoodie through Ellen. He ended up taking hers and we sent her a new one that she ended up wearing at The Oscars. That was a huge moment for us! Pharrell and I collaborated after he came out with his hit “Happy.” It was such a natural fit and we were able to debut them on the United Nations’ International Day of Happiness.
As far as the NBA, I’ve always viewed female professional sports fans as important customers. Before we signed our NBA license we had already been successful with collections for the Miami HEAT and the Dallas Cowboys. It’s really exciting to take that aspect of our business to the next level and I’m looking forward to debuting designs for the other teams for next season.
FSF: Looking back at your career, what has been the biggest learning lesson in your journey?
PLW: Every day is a learning experience. When Peace Love World started I had no experience in the fashion industry. We learned about dying fabrics and the right threads to use and we definitely made mistakes here and there. We’ve come a long way in five years and I attribute that to our team. It’s not about being an expert in everything. I work alongside the best people and trust our team.
FSF: What do your kids think of your positive success? Do they love wearing mom's designs?
PLW: My kids are amazing. They wear Peace Love World as much as I do and I’m blessed to work with them. We are very proud of how far we’ve come as a family and as a business. They were the ones who inspired me to pursue this business; I really couldn't be doing it without them.
FSF: When you aren't designing, what do you love to do on your downtime in the Magic City?
PLW: To be honest, I am always designing. I come up with ideas in the car, on planes, it never stops. I lead a healthy lifestyle, both physically and mentally. I like to exercise in the morning and for fun I love having my whole family over or going out for dinners. One of the best things about Miami is the weather so we love being outside. A good run is fun and I love paddle boarding.
** To shop the latest Fall collection, visit the site at www.peaceloveworld.com **