How She Got There: Naíra Fragoso da Costa and her Fashion-Only PR Firm, The Exclusives

Stressed but well-dressed is a good way to describe Naíra Fragoso da Costa, the founder of the fashion-only PR firm The Exclusives. From the start of her infatuation with fashion at 12, to modelling at 15, to starting a PR firm of her own at 20, Naíra’s life has been characterized by her passion for fashion and the industry surrounding it. With a little inspiration from her idol, PR fashion maven Kelly Cutrone, Naíra has gone full-force into not only creating her own PR firm, but creating one that gives other university students a foot into the stylishly stubborn door of the industry. In an interview HCuO squeezed in between her many meetings, Naíra tells us how she got to where she is, what she does, how she balances school and work, and some major advice for anyone wanting to jump feet first into the fashion industry.

About Naíra:
Apart from building her own PR Empire, Naíra is 20 years old and currently finishing up her last semester at Carleton University (we will look past it) in the School of Journalism and Communication. During her time at Carleton, she started the Portuguese Speaking Student Association, and became its director of communications. This position gave her the hands-on experience that has been fundamental in the development of The Exclusives. Throughout all of this, her passion for the fashion industry remained ever present. Since the age of 12, all Naíra wanted to do was Fashion PR and Journalism. Everything she did, read and watched was with the goal of achieving that dream. At 15 she began modeling and this experience gave her insight and contacts to the fashion industry. It gave her a full look at what goes in to this world; a world that she says isn’t always so perfect.

HC: What made Naíra want to start a fashion only PR firm?
This continuous, self-proclaimed obsession with fashion is the driving force behind The Exclusives. This has been her goal and dream for almost a decade. Having done some freelance fashion PR work starting when she was 18, Naíra never saw herself starting a firm on her own. It was an interview done with Kelly Cutrone that sparked her journey. In the interview, Cutrone said “if you know the industry like the back of your hand, start one on your own.” Knowing she knew the ins and outs of the industry, and only moments after hearing these words, Naíra took them to heart and ran; and so The Exclusives was born.

HC: How did the Exclusives team all come together?
The team is made up of people Naíra knows not necessarily for a long time but that share similar connections and interactions. Despite having a lot of friends within the fashion industry, Naíra chose a different path when creating the team. She wanted to choose people still in school, in their third or fourth year in communications. Naíra understands how hard this industry can be to get into and as she said “fashion is the most brutal industry and it’s all about who you know.” It was a chance to give hardworking and passionate people an opportunity to get their foot in the door.

HC: What services do you provide and to who?
PR is essential to any company at any size and in any industry. “PR makes people care about what they think they don’t care about” says Naíra. This rings especially true in the fashion industry. Fashion PR is implemented at every level of the industry. The Exclusives embody that plurality of PR and provide brands, designers and boutiques a multitude of services such as: media relations, production, event planning, social media and publications (press releases).  For local fashion players, The Exclusives is a one stop shop and a chance to regenerate the fashion scene in Ottawa.

HC: Ottawa has the misconception of being a boring town, with the furthest thing from fashion sense, how do you feel about this perception and how do you plan on changing it?
Naíra moved here from New York and still has family in New York. When setting up The Exclusives she says that she “could have gone to Toronto and NYC, but it wouldn’t be smart to go there with nothing to show.” She knew people wouldn’t take her seriously without something in hand. For her, “it is smarter to do it here in Ottawa, because there is zero competition.” She can slowly grow and establish herself and her brand, and in turn pave the way for other people to do similar ventures. Kelly Cutrone started in LA back when fashion wasn’t so big there; and now Naíra is taking the same logic and applying it here in Ottawa.
Being from out of town for Naíra it is “sad to see a capital city not on the map.” When her family comes to visit they are tempted to believe that the capital city is Montreal or Toronto. Accounting a potential excuse to it being a small city, Naíra and The Exclusives are here to uplift the local fashion businesses and boutiques, who according to Naíra feel trapped because no one is prioritizing them. She believes that this city is capable of achieving a higher standing on the global stage and Naíra wants to use PR to achieve that.

HC: What is one piece of clothing or an accessory advice essential for a fashion-savvy business wardrobe?
As a business woman it is all about being comfortably in style for Naíra; “whatever makes you feel stylish.” When you are working 24 hours a day, you want to feel comfortable and confident throughout. In Naíra’s case, everyone knows her as the girl that makes menswear into womenswear with the help of her dad’s closet (cue HCuOttawa’s Tamia Thompson’s amazing article on menswear for women).

HC: What advice does Naíra have for aspiring entrepreneurs in the fashion world?
“Never wait for tomorrow, because tomorrow never comes,” Naíra says without hesitation. From the minute she saw the interview with Kelly Cutrone, Naíra started planning The Exclusives. She didn’t miss a beat. “People often wait until next week, next month or next year” and Naíra didn’t. She says “it really doesn’t take much to start a business.” In fact, you only need to register with the government to start one. For Naíra, “it takes a person who is willing to carry on.” This resilience and motivation has been essential in the building of The Exclusives and it is for anybody who wants to achieve their dreams of starting a business in the fashion industry or elsewhere.

There are two major lessons Naíra hopes to leave Her Campus readers with:

  1. Do not get into the industry with high expectation: At all levels of the fashion industry, there is a requirement for sacrifice and hard work and the glamorous lifestyle isn’t just there nor is it always possible.
  2. Don’t let yourself be persuaded by the flawless façade the fashion industry sometimes puts off: It may look effortless, but behind the wall at the back of the runway, there is much work that goes into getting the models down the runway. “In order for something to be perfect, blood, sweat and tears has to go into it” she sums up perfectly.

The Exclusives is launching on January 29th at 7pm! Be there to see what this innovative firm is all about and to see Naíra in action. You can check out the event here. You can also check out their Facebook to stay updated on all their ventures.

 

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