Designer Dreams

They live and thrive about us — women intent on reinventing, reinvigorating and re-empowering others through their bold and bombastic vision.
Text by Hugh Marchand Photos courtesy of Respective Designers | May 8, 2018 | Fashion

Daniella Kronfle
4141 NE 2nd Ave., Ste. 203-D

“My primary goal has always been to have all of my pieces and collections enjoyed and worn by my customers, not locked up in a safe or in a museum!”

Enmeshed as we are in an international society preeminently concerned with the concept of borders, it’s refreshing to note that, whatever the national temper, the sweeping winds of globally-influenced inspiration are still blowing strong down our city’s byways and avenues. Born in Ecuador to a family of Italians, Lebanese and Syrians, educated in Paris and New York, and settling (sunnily) in Miami, few women represent the benefits and creative accomplishment intrinsic in such cross-cultural exchange as Jewelry Maven & Design Icon Daniella Kronfle.
Seemingly born to the world of top-tier jewel and gem design — she first began attending industry trade shows with her mother, a jeweler, at age 11 — Kronfle seems little intimidated by the titanic monikers that seem to dominate her field. “When I began, the jewelry market seemed dominated by a handful of established makers and fashion houses, leading to products being regarded as investments rather than expressions of individual style,” she says. “I decided to address this by offering a fresh new proposal: Creating jewelry that has a direct emotional impact on the women who appreciate the craft.”
Making serpentine, sophisticated pieces evocative of the ornate coral lining our shores, Kronfle faultlessly imbues each article of her jewelcraft with an undeniable sense of place, midwifing a transformation from raw rock into autobiographical object in a process much more art than artisanry. “I can’t point to a single influence but certainly my love for color and texture comes from a lifetime of experiences traveling, studying history, discovering different cultures and appreciating art in its many forms,” she says. “My line was founded upon a genuine love that does not only seek to create beautiful jewelry, but to lure and seduce through an endless journey of self-discovery.”
Only recently opening a boutique in the ever-emergent Miami Design District and soon to feature pieces in New York’s Bergdorf Goodman, we predict a long and lasting contribution to the jewelry world from this most accomplished of artists.

Erika Boom
Fit Mama Apparel
238 SW 8th St.

“I think my pieces perfectly reflect the nature of our city: Plenty of color with form-fitting, sexy cuts guaranteed to catch the eye!”

More than an entrepreneur; more than an industrial textiles expert; more than a fitness nut; more than a devoted wife & mother; more than a trendsetter; and more than a children’s book author — to categorize Erika Boom, Founder & Principal of hit Miami-based athletiwear and accessory line Fit Mama Apparel into even a dozen classifications is to do a disservice to this ever-expanding fashionista furiously invested in helping herself and others maximize every ounce of their prospective potential.
Born and raised in Barranquilla, Colombia, Boom’s journey to our vaulted metropolis began while pursuing her Master’s in Business Administration at the University of Miami. Always enthusiastic in her zeal for life lived in our engaging city, Boom’s fantastically ferocious and ceaselessly staggering product line is belied by the simple mission she attaches to her brand. “I love pretty things,” she says. “I love to help people get fit and I love people getting fit in pretty clothing! The international nature of Miami allows me to have a very open mind when I design my collections.”
Establishing Fit Mama after dabbling in a number of careers, the designer’s near-legendary line has grown in leaps and bounds since its inception in 2013. “At the beginning, I started marketing the brand specifically to mothers,” says Boom, who first conceived the brand after the birth of her son, Oliver. “Over time, the company has really evolved — currently, the Fit Mama name describes not only my own original product line but an interest geared toward all women., The brand launched as a product but has since evolved into an entire lifestyle brand!”

Viviana Gabeiras
Petit Pois
2202 West 78th St.

“You have to find your own message and style — don’t try to be someone else. Unleash your strength, and then be the best you you can be!”

Matriarch of a masterly line of quirky and colorful collections boldly injecting fun back into the feminine sphere, Venezuelan ex-pat Viviana Gabeiras, belying the playful tone inherent in her works, knows that operating a top label like Petit Pois is very serious business, a business she and her husband have been tirelessly engaged in for the past 17 years.

Arriving in Miami in 1990 after a stint educating herself in the top echelon of the fashion world — she graduated from the Parson School of Design with such notable contemporaries as Marc Jacobs and has studied Contemporary Fashion at the Louvre — barely a moment has passed by in the designer’s life that wasn’t ultimately purposed to achieving her goal of owning and operating her own business devoted to clothes women wear and love. “I haven’t just studied fashion, I haven’t just worked in fashion, I’ve lived fashion,” says Gabeiras, who also offers a brand devoted to custom-crafting dresses for special occasions. “I haven’t done anything in my life except for fashion, from my days at school to today, where Petit Pois is a non-stop, double full-time job.”

Although deeply in love with the city in which she’s launched her empire, Gabeiras will admit that she’s faced some small challenges gaining respect from industry professionals staunch and staid in their outlooks. “Keep in mind, when I was first starting out, I had to face not only being a woman, but being a Latina woman and a designer based out of Miami, a totally different animal than New York,” she says. “We’re carrying on our shoulders a lot of pressure, and that makes everything that much more challenging which is why we are so proud of what we have accomplished!”

Eliana & Andrea Salazar
Seta Apparel
3535 NW 83rd Ave., Ste. 121

“Fashion is all about being a visionary — it’s about venturing into new elements!”

Sure, you could have the contacts; you could have the funding and a keen technical knowledge of fabrics and their fabricators. You could even have the devastating charisma necessary to formulate faultless stratagems in any environ designed from boardroom to runway. In short, you could be the bearer of every modern business gift possible, and still fall short in the intrinsically instinct-driven world of fashion. In this world, if you don’t have style, you don’t have anything.
Fortunately for Colombian-bred sisters Eliana & Andrea Salazar, Founders of Seta Apparel, style is precisely the gift graced to them in amounts almost inequitable. Each sanguinely sensual piece that rolls out of their studio further underscores the fact that these peerless partners were destined for their trade. “Our professional background is distinct from fashion, but we’ve had a sense of styling and fashion since we were kids,” says Eliana, who, along with her sister, was so noticed for her distinctive dress that she began personal shopping and styling in high school. “It was only natural that we began designing our first collection not long after.” When pressed, the Salazar sisters cite two prime differences setting Seta Apparel apart from the competition. “First, our pieces are 100% handmade,” says Andrea, mentioning the influence her mother, a couture seamstress in their native Medellin, plays on the line. “We don’t like to be limited by season — you can wear our pieces all the year-round.”
Only in business a few short years, the sisters are already savvy in the fickle nature of the industry and careful to maintain a calm and cool plan sure to pay big dividends. “We’re so fortunate to have great teams both in Miami and Colombia,” they say. “We’ve made sure to grow at a pace we can handle. It’s essential our brand maintain its image and recognition everywhere it’s seen!”

Ximena Kavalekas
40 SW 13th St., Ste. 601

“Inspiration comes from many different sources, but my time in Italy and the magic of Miami has definitely had a huge influence on my work!”

With designs that are both undeniably international and undoubtedly domestic, pieces patterned after the artisanal craft of Florentine tanners, yet endowed with a sizzle found only on this side of the world — if you find these concepts confusing, don’t. It’s only in a city such as ours that panoptic paradoxes are the only things that make good sense. What cosmopolitan product are we speaking of? Accessories by Ximena Kavalekas, of course. The Creator, Principal & Owner of a line who draws from a well of inspiration that stretches from the mist-enshrouded Andean highlands to the decadent deco-esque landscape of our own city was raised in South America and trained in the highest halls of Italian fashion. Kavalekas has, in all her glory, consistently wowed not only Miami but the enitre fashion world with her one-of-a-kind python skin handbags. “People always ask me if I’m worried about others copying my designs,” says Kavalekas, whose catalog contains a dizzying array of chic and stately handbags, clutches and wallets. “But there’s no faking quality!”
Launching her brand in 2015, Kavalekas has already been blessed with a number of notable successes, not the least of which includes penetrating that most coveted of clothingmarkets, New York. “The brand has evolved to the point where I’m lucky enough to see my line in one of my all-time favorite department stores, Bergdorf Goodman, and in many boutiques across Miami,” she says. “I’m just amazed that we’ve managed to transform a homegrown business designing bags for my friends into a proper wholesale concern.”
Already making significant inroads advertising her jaw-dropping pieces, Kavalekas’ plans for the future include keeping her options open. “I try to stay away from any one specific master plan,” she says. “I’d rather go with the flow. Obviously on the business side, we’re always planning our next step and improving production capacity, but personally, I’m just excited and prepared for whatever the future brings!”