Maria Cristina, tell us a little about yourself. Where are you from? What do you do? What inspires you?

Gladly! I was born and raised in beautiful Guatemala. Currently I’m Brand and Style Director for Guatemalan luxury women’s-wear brand LIA COHEN. This means I’m the brand keeper. I find inspiration in beauty; its many forms and expressions. I’m also highly motivated by the idea of starting a new creative project. Creation inspires and motivates me. I always say I live for the creation of beautiful imagery. Making things look beautiful is my gift.

How did your path shift towards becoming the Brand Director of LIA COHEN?

Well, before I started working for LIA COHEN I was a freelance producer, stylist, and creative director. One day I had the unique opportunity to meet Lia, she invited me to visit her studio. I must admit I hesitated at first because I was so used to people being very informal about their projects. But a little voice inside my head told me: you need to go visit this girl. And, so I did, and I saw that she had a wonderful space. I saw she was very serious and professional about the things she was doing.
That’s how our relationship started, both as friends and as colleagues. I asked Lia: what do you want to do? she told me her dream, and so I said: let’s do it! For a year I was working with Lia, but I was also involved in other creative projects. At the beginning of 2017, I decided I only wanted to dedicate my time, energy, and creativity to build the LIA COHEN brand. God blessed me with Lia, and with the LIA COHEN lady team. At first, she had a dream, and now we have a collective dream.

What are the biggest challenges when it comes to working with commercial productions within the fashion industry?

Definitely producing visual content that will actually get people’s attention. And also, that at the same time, the content stays true to your brand personality and core values. There’s just too much content out there, and people’s attention spans are getting shorter by the minute. It’s hard to come up with something “different.” Specially when there are big luxury groups with big spending capital producing some of the most amazing content.
What has worked for us is that we do our best, and we stay true to ourselves. We’ve also been blessed with the opportunity to be surrounded by great talent, and people who support our dream. We understand our brand is not for everyone to like. But, as long as we are speaking to the right people, and they get the message, then we’re doing a good job. This, I think, is a challenge.

What is your dream? Where do you see yourself in the future?

Since I was a young girl I dreamt of doing what I’m doing right now. And the fact that I’m doing it in Guatemala is pretty fantastic! I always thought that to have a job like this I had to go someplace else like the US or Europe to find it. Just a couple of years ago doing what I’m doing right now was unimaginable. I had to wait 13 years for this opportunity. Professionally right now, LIA COHEN is my dream. I dream of building, along with my friend Lia, a strong brand. A brand that will provide opportunities, and will make dreams come true for other creative women.
Working for the LIA COHEN brand doesn’t have to be your dream, but it can help you achieve it. I think that graduating with a fashion design degree from the university in Guatemala and actually being able to apply for a job at a company like LIA COHEN is an amazing opportunity. In the future I see myself happy and fulfilled with my family. Traveling the world, representing the LIA COHEN brand, and developing other personal projects. I want to do so many things. I also see myself in a beautiful farm, harvesting my own food and cooking for the people I love; food is my other passion.

How did you begin with the project FEMALE CLASS?

When I started working for LIA COHEN in 2016 I wanted to find a way to portray different women with different style personalities. By wearing the LIA COHEN brand. Then I remembered a book I read a few years ago called “The Rise of The Creative Class” by Richard Florida. One day I sat down with our photographer friend Carmen Maldonado. I told her about this idea that I had, and this is how the Female Class project was born.
Originally, I wanted to name it The Rise of the Creative Female Class, but it was a little bit too long. It finally ended up being Female Class. We talked about the project for so long! It took us a year to get started, until one day I woke up, called Carmen and told her: Let’s do it! I will have 4 women ready for you to photograph next week. And just like that the project was born. We were blessed with the opportunity to photograph so many wonderful women.

What is your biggest achievement as the leading costume designer of the fashion industry?

I still have way too many things to achieve. People like me are never satisfied. Whatever I have achieved right now, I could’ve never done it by myself. Sometimes while I’m working I look around and I think that we have built something beautiful and great. That makes me feel very happy, but we still have to work really hard to keep it going. Building the LIA COHEN team, with my beautiful friend Lia, is one of the things I feel most proud of. The fact that people in Guatemala acknowledge the LIA COHEN brand also fills me with great joy. It means we’ve done a good job.

What is the thing you enjoy the most of your work?

Having the opportunity to create with an amazing group of individuals who happen to be women, and share the same vision and values. I also enjoy traveling to exciting cities and meeting new and interesting people. This part of the job is great, it allows me to expand my mind and grow as a person. I really get to do what I always dreamed of doing, so basically, I’m living my dream.

What is your dream for the world? What message would you like to share to our audience?  

I dream of a world filled with possibilities and opportunities for everyone searching for them. It doesn’t matter where you are in the world, or what your circumstances are; you can find them. To me, one of the best things that we can do is put our talents to work in the service of others, and to give our very best where we have been planted.
Once upon a time, when I was a young and insecure girl, I honestly thought I was good for nothing. I knew I wanted to do things, but I didn’t know how to do them. Then one day I lost one of the most important people in my life, my father, that’s when my life changed. It forced me to put to work the one talent I knew I had in the service of others. All of a sudden, a plethora of talents began to flourish out of me; it was an amazing feeling! I took advantage of every opportunity that was brought to me, even when I had no idea how to do it. Each and every single one of those opportunities has brought me to where I am today.
My message is don’t be afraid. Be courageous, don’t waste time. Believe in yourself and the gifts that you’ve been given, and put those talents to work in the service of others. It will make you a better person and you’ll be making other people happy too. In the end happy people make this world better.

Check out more of our Dream Chasers’ stories!

*images provided by María Cristina

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