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Conversations with the Inspiring Rosanna Ortiz

Today we’d like to introduce you to Rosanna Ortiz.

So, before we jump into specific questions about the business, why don’t you give us some details about you and your story.
I moved to Providence from Boston in 2009 and started developing STYLEWEEK in June 2009. In Boston, I was a shoe rep for six years and that allowed me to moonlight for a couple of Boston magazines and attend Boston Fashion Week events. These two endeavors provided me the insight that I needed to create fashion week, STYLEWEEK.

I felt that the proximity of Providence to NYC and Boston was indeed a plus to have a fashion week that would attract those from both areas. I didn’t ever want it to be a fashion week dedicated only to Rhode Island designers, we always had the mission to incorporate designers from all over the U.S. and beyond. Our first STYLEWEEK was June 2010 and we opened with NYC designer, Karen Sebag and had a full roster of 12 including Project Runway alum and established designers. After our first season, I realized we really had something here.

STYLEWEEK Northeast is a fashion week that is dedicated to the business of fashion where we look at the designers who participate as our clients and we want them to leave with materials that will help them propel their collections and brand to the next level. Hence, why production value is so important to me so the pictures, videos, etc are key quality.

Great, so let’s dig a little deeper into the story – has it been an easy path overall and if not, what were the challenges you’ve had to overcome?
It is rarely a smooth road when you work for yourself. Actually, I always state I don’t work for myself, I have many people to answer to!

The struggles, in the beginning, are always selling the idea and it was very important to me that I was doing the legwork as well as the conceptualization. Laziness has never been a characteristic of mine (thank you to my hardworking father) so I lived and breathed the STYLEWEEK idea and ensured that every time I was out networking I was a reflection of that brand. I was never home in the beginning years, always having meetings, networking events, social meetings and promoting the next season of STYLEWEEK. I have to admit, it was entirely exhausting!

STYLEWEEK is also the most expensive endeavor next to university I have endured. I used my life savings to create this brand in its early years and it was an investment. I feel that if I were to have done things differently I would have made decisions based on the business, not for personal reasons.

The biggest piece of advice I can provide to young women is: always trust your gut because the gut always has the right answer. People pleasing will always hold your business back, I, unfortunately, learned that the hard way because I wanted to make everyone happy but that is impossible and can be a detriment to making your business successful.

What should we know about STYLEWEEK Northeast? What do you guys do best? What sets you apart from the competition?
My background is public relations and I really didn’t know a lot about fashion until I started STYLEWEEK. I was always intrigued by how public relations and word of mouth can make or break a brand. I never truly realized how imperative a positive reputation is for an organization. STYLEWEEK allowed me to optimize pr for our designers, partners, and sponsors. This event is truly a PR campaign for everyone involved.

When we started, I ultimately wanted to help designers as I felt a lot of the fashion events in the New England region were not providing these designers with a professional platform to showcase their collections. I wanted to make sure the production was executed properly. I wanted to ensure that the press, media, bloggers anyone who could help amplify their brand were in attendance. It has always been about the designers at STYLEWEEK, no one else. I am proud that we have followed our ethos of giving these designers a fashion week that parallels the quality and production of other serious fashion weeks.

I think one thing that really sets us apart is STYLEWEEK prides itself on garnering national press exposure and being a professional fashion week. From beginning to end we act as a concierge for the designer providing everything they need for a successful show. We are not a glorified cocktail party, this is our business and we get down and dirty if we have to, to ensure the event goes on perfectly. There are no egos at STYLEWEEK and work very hard to make sure we keep it that way!

Who do you look up to? How have they inspired you?
The women in my life who have inspired me are all incredibly hard workers. I never feel like I am working hard enough! But a few of the women are my stepmother, Ruth Laursen who always has a positive look on life and the right answers on how to handle everything. My board member, Susan Keller who has been in CEO and CFO positions all her life and her pragmatic way of thinking has taught me so much and how to lead with a business mind, not an emotional one.

Contact Info:

Image Credit:
Myke Yeager Photography, Zoo Media, Angela Wood Photography

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