Name: Isadora Alvarez
Current City: Los Angeles
Hometown: Palawan, an island town in the Philippines
Occupation: Boss, designer, and all around gal at BackBeatRags :)
My name is Isadora and I run the clothing line BackBeatRags. I'm originally from the Philippines and moved to the U.S. 9 years ago. I attended in San Francisco and moved down here to LA 5 years ago. I worked the corporate life for a while before saying fuck it and starting my own thing. After running an indie clothing shop back in the Phillippine, I've always wanted to return to being my own boss. For the past three years, I've pursued the dream of having my own line.
What's the origin story of BackBeatRags, and what are some of your plans for the future?
I started selling vintage when I quit my job; did the whole selling at flea markets thing! I already knew that I wanted to start my own line, but didn't quite know what type of clothing I wanted to make. So, I sold vintage first (also because I am a huge vintage fan) and slowly realized that I was specializing in vintage tees and sweatshirts. This kind of planted the seed of making a basics line. I still wanted to be a bit different and I wanted the line to have a sustainable aspect. As I researched what was needed, or what was lacking in the market, I discovered we didn't have that many options when it came to sustainable clothing that is cool, uses eco-friendly fabrics and is not insanely expensive. I figured I could try to hit that criteria and throw in some vintage details to freshen the designs up. That's basically how the line came about!
What's your favorite design to date? Favorite thrifted tee?
I would say all the tie-dyes we've done! I think they are so fun and not your typical tie-dye. Plus they were supposed to look completely different but we ended up using the "wrong" pattern instead!
Man, I have so many favorite thrifted tees. I have two super thin 50/50 shirts that are in heavy rotation – one has a Beach Bum graphic and one says Life's A Beach. Obviously, chilling on an island is always on my mind!
How does living in Los Angeles fuel your creativity?
I think LA has so much diversity that going from one neighborhood to the next is very different and that is definitely inspiring as we get exposed to a lot of different ways of thinking and doing. We also got a lot of sick street art- from the well-known street artists to the random street tags or even the old school signs that are literally everywhere. Plus, our golden hour can't be beat! Everything just looks so goddamn beautiful when its that time of the day that. It's hard not to feel inspired.
Do you have any other projects/collaborations on the books you'd like the readers to know about?
We're planning a week-long pop-up in NYC around the 4/20 weekend! We are also slowly getting more into natural dye's, and more little things.
Tell us about the greatest challenge/success you've thus far in your career?
Every day as an entrepreneur with very little funds is a challenge! It's really hard to run a business BUT I feel like every day and every new season that I still get to do this is a success on its own. It's never easy so to be able to be here doing this for another day is definitely a success in my book and also a blessing!
If you hadn't launched BackBeatRags, what profession would you have pursued?
I always said I'd be in the food business if I weren't in fashion- as a professional food taster haha!
What's one piece of advice you can offer to aspiring designers/entrepreneurs?
Connect with someone in the industry and ask all the questions, even the silliest one you can think of! Work for smaller labels if you can, because that's how you see first hand how the business works. Intern as much as you can while in school- experience is the best teacher and I wish I did more to learn before starting my own thing. Knowledge is power, and when you add a "fuck it" attitude (you'll need that when things get really tough) you'll be good to go!
Discuss the importance of female friendships in your life.
I had always been a loner, and a little socially awkward. So, when I started the business, I made it a point to face fears. This included reaching out to people, especially females in my industry because it just made life (especially entrepreneurial life) less lonely. We all need some support! I would definitely not be here if it weren't for the support of my lady friends in and out of the industry! They are my greatest cheerleaders.
Who are some of your greatest influences?
My parents. They've taught me to do good work, be humble, and enjoy life. Also, my husband is the biggest influence on me on how to run my life. He's organized AF and gets shit done without getting distracted which I'm very prone to do hahaha!
If you could have dinner with any woman in history, dead or alive, who would it be and why?
I'd love to be at a dinner party with Patti Smith. I loved her book Just Kids and I'd love to hear those stories firsthand. I'd also love to drill about personal style, New York during that time and how to be an overall badass.
What are you grateful for?
Every day I am alive, I am grateful for. We aspire to be so many things, to have certain things that we often forget the simple things like waking up and being able to do things and to live a life with a roof on our heads and food on our table is something to be hugely grateful for.
Do you have a personal mantra or quote that inspires you?
Don't fucking give up, everything takes time.