It is my pleasure to introduce you to Carolina Alvo. Carolina is the founder and CEO of Carolina Alvo, a petite clothing brand. I met Carolina a little while ago through the world wide web. I was working on promoting I'd Rather Be Short as she was working on her petite store, then called Gambita. We became friends and have enjoyed supporting each other in all things girl power, entrepreneurship and of course, petite. Her story inspires me. All little ladies know what a drag shopping can be, but Carolina is one of the few doing something about it. Not only is she empowering women through manufacturing clothes that fit their unique bodies, but her company donates 1% of their profits to Girl Rising, a campaign to keep girls in school around the wold.
How did your clothing line for petites comes about?
I’ve had the idea for Carolina Alvo for several years now. I’ve been a life-long complainer of how terrible it is to shop (I’m 4’9”) and I always believed there must be a better way for petite women to shop. However, I never really believed in my ability to start something off on my own so the idea remained where it started – in my head – for many years.
Then I was unexpectedly laid off in Jan 2013 from a job that I really loved. It was extremely painful (and a major blow to the ego) but I am proud that through that pain I decided to see it as an opportunity to finally make the leap and start my own thing. I had to tell myself that I had nothing to lose and I would regret it much more if I never tried and just went out and looked for another job, than if I started the business and it never went anywhere.
I’m also proud that once I got the first version of the site up (then called Gambita) I actively listened to customer feedback and tried to make adjustments. Ultimately I decided that being a petite retailer wasn’t going to work because I wasn’t able to find enough supply of good petite clothing. So I switched the business model as well as the name and the brand completely. We’ve just relaunched so I don’t know how people will react but so far the reaction has been very positive!
Walk us through your day. Not your greatest day, but not your worst. What does a good-to-ideal day look like for you? I wake up (usually painfully) around 7:30am. Unfortunately the first thing I do is check email, but I force myself to eat breakfast and work out before getting started on any work. I’ve recently become vegan, so breakfast usually consists of a yummy smoothie. I’ll usually read fashion industry publication, Women’s Wear Daily, while eating. Then I either head out to the gym for some sort of weight training or I go for a run outside. I never used to be a runner but I ran my first half-marathon in March so now I’m hooked!
When I get home and get started on work, I’ll take a look at my to-do list. I’m a big list person and I make this the last thing I do everyday so I can hit the ground running the next morning. Since everyday is different, I’ll sometimes have a lot of meetings (coffee with an advisor, meeting with factories, etc) and some days are meeting-free so I can focus on executing on a bunch of things. The fact that everyday is different means things are never boring.
I try to stop around 8pm and cook dinner (but not before writing my to-do list for the next day). When I cook I always have on one of my favorite shows – typically the Daily Show or Colbert Report – and I try to really disconnect from everything else. My husband and I will usually eat dinner together, sometimes while watching a show we both love (or these days a lot of basketball) or sometimes with no TV at all and just talk. We try to head to bed by 11pm (but usually it’s a bit later). I always read before going to bed and am in the midst of shuffling between a few different books depending on my mood.
Do you have any boundaries throughout your day? I probably need to set more boundaries, but one thing I’m pretty good about is that when I’m eating I’ve set a hard boundary that I can’t be working at all. I also make it a point in this time to read subjects in other industries…I have a lot of interests so I like to take this time to make sure I’m up to speed on politics, international news, etc.
What are some influential books or talks that you'd recommend? Ah – this is so hard! But here are some of my favorites on my bookshelf: Delivering Happiness Lean In David and Goliath Born to Run Start with Why And two great Ted Talks that have really stuck with me: Violence against women – it’s a men’s issue The way we think about charity is dead wrong
Thank you, C! I'm excited to see what big things are ahead for you.