Uruguay native Gabi Perezutti Hearst is the designer behind haute bohemian line Candela. The former model founded Candela in Brooklyn in 2004 with a collection of silkscreen shirts before expanding to a full ready-to-wear line and shoes in 2006. Taking its name from the Spanish word for “light,” Candela captures the warmth of Perezutti Hearst’s Latin American roots through flowy, feminine pieces and a curated collection of like-minded labels online.
What did you learn while modeling that you’ve been able to apply to the business side of fashion?
The best lesson I learned while modeling was not to take rejection personally. I guess what attracted me to modeling was the same thing that attracted me to designing and audiovisual school—telling stories with different mediums.
Before launching Candela you were sales director in a showroom – how has the retail end of business evolved since then?
Since I started Candela, the way we do business has changed completely. Today, the most competitive accounts are online. That’s not to say the brick and mortar stores are not necessary, but as a mother of two, I shop everything from my phone.
On your website you feature a “Shop our Guests” section – what inspired this?
We are a still a young designer line and I thought that associating ourselves with brands with which we share an affinity would help drive traffic to our site.
What’s the process behind choosing who is included in this section? Are all the products collaborations?
We have to love the product and it has to be special. Also, it is important that it’s a product that isn’t found everywhere.
How has joining the CFDA affected your vision or long-term opportunities?
The CFDA is an amazing resource for designers. Right now we are participating in the MBA summer internship, interviewing Wharton and Harvard MBA students to intern with us during the summer.
Do you visit Uruguay often?
Yes, I go 4 to 5 times a year. I own the ranch that I inherited from my father where we breed grass fed cattle and merino sheep.
What would surprise people about your hometown?
How easy going Uruguayans are. A very popular artist who is an icon in our country is Carlos Páez Vilaró. He recently passed away and his wake was done in the parliament, where everyone was invited. You had former presidents with the current president. No security present, people just walked in from the streets to pay their respect; everyone together in one room.
Where were your original business partners from? Are they still involved in the company?
One was Argentinian and the other Cuban American–so Latin. No, they sold their shares and now focus mainly on their families.
Is there a children’s line in your future?
We have one that is sold exclusively on our website and other specialty stores called Candelita.
To what extent do your daughters benefit from having a mom that’s a fashion designer?
They will inherit a lot of dresses. I collect my favorite pieces from each of our collections for them. But kidding aside, I think that they see a woman who works in what she loves, and hopefully that will inspire them.