"We were taught that we can be mad at each other for five minutes," Valerie explains. "After that, we deal with it and everything is fine. We're family; we tell it like it is. But our father would say, 'You guys have five minutes. After five minutes, it's over. You're family. Move on.'"
The time limit has kept the sisters close. In the conference room of co-working space 360 Spaces, their base of operations for the past two months, they talk excitedly about bringing their line to Miami from their native San Juan, Puerto Rico, nodding enthusiastically at each other and interjecting their thoughts in the middle of each other's sentences. They're the yin to the other's yang, Verónika explains: "I'm the creative, the dreamer, the la-la-la," she laughs, twirling her hands around her head like metaphorical clouds. "And because of [Valerie]'s organizational skills and her law background, she's able to see things with another mentality."
Verónika left Puerto Rico in 2003 to attend the Miami International University of Art & Design, graduating from there to internships and jobs with boutique fashion lines in Italy before returning to launch her own atelier in San Juan. Meanwhile, Valerie stayed in San Juan, attended law school, and began working at her father's litigation firm. But shortly after Verónika moved her business to Miami this past January, Valerie realized she needed a change.
"Verónika would always say, 'For me, it always feels like Friday,'" Valerie remembers. "And when I was practicing law, I was like, I don't feel that way at all. By Sunday, I'm already depressed because it's going to be Monday. So I started thinking, I want to feel that way."
Valerie joined her sister in Miami in March. Since then, the two have gone from pitching swimwear to boutiques and keeping inventory in their car to setting up headquarters in Wynwood and working with a factory in Hialeah to produce their designs. Though they still sell online, primarily to clients in Puerto Rico, they've also been carried in several boutiques around Miami. And they have big plans to expand. "We want to develop all of what we did in Puerto Rico: intimates, evening, ready-to-wear, men's," Verónika says.
It's a huge undertaking, but together, the sisters feel capable of just about anything, including their dream of turning their small business into a brand recognized around the world.
"We're proud to be here," Verónika says of their Miami operation. "We never imagined we'd be here this fast."
Keep Miami New Times Free... Since we started Miami New Times, it has been defined as the free, independent voice of Miami, and we would like to keep it that way. Offering our readers free access to incisive coverage of local news, food and culture. Producing stories on everything from political scandals to the hottest new bands, with gutsy reporting, stylish writing, and staffers who've won everything from the Society of Professional Journalists' Sigma Delta Chi feature-writing award to the Casey Medal for Meritorious Journalism. But with local journalism's existence under siege and advertising revenue setbacks having a larger impact, it is important now more than ever for us to rally support behind funding our local journalism. You can help by participating in our "I Support" membership program, allowing us to keep covering Miami with no paywalls.