Valeria del Rey is the founder of La Gotta, a lifestyle brand that designs sustainable swimsuits and organic CBD sun care products. Born and raised in Puerto Rico, Valeria has always been influenced by the sea and nature.
While pursuing her bachelor‘s degree in Washington D.C.., she worked at Oscar de la Renta and Tom Ford, where she cultivated a strong interest in fashion and design. She then ventured off to Italy to earn her master’s in luxury brand management at Polimoda. After having lived in Paris, New York, and Florence, she moved back to Puerto Rico to grow La Gotta by combining her culture, experiences, and style to craft distinctive, meaningful designs.
What was your vision for your brand when you created La Gotta?
Our goal is to cultivate one-of-a-kind, sustainable pieces that express women‘s individuality, elegance, and flair. Using UPF 50+ fabrics and minimizing our ecological footprint, our swimsuits are designed to enhance one’s beauty through our creatively crafted designs while protecting our waters and skin.
Using nature as our inspiration, our team thoroughly researches different natural elements to create innovative designs and prints that each express a unique story. We are on a mission to redefine the swimwear narrative.
What advice can you share with other Latinas that are considering starting their own business?
I encourage you to think about financial planning and funding. As Latina women, it is no secret that we have less access to financial advising, planning, funding, among other fundamental elements of a business. That is due in large part to the fact that the business world is male dominated. That said, there is always someone willing to mentor you or guide you throughout the process. Reach out to people, do not stop networking, and fight to find someone who believes in you and is willing to lend you a hand. Get out of your comfort zone and push yourself to get your voice out there.
Also, think about the longevity of your business model. What do you want your company to contribute to the world 10 years from now? Do not be shortsighted and focus on your business’ potential and not on its present achievements. Only then will you be successful in your business.
Why is it important that your brand/products be eco-conscious?
First, it is a moral responsibility. Every brand should have sustainability as a core pillar. Sustainability is fundamental to the survival of our planet and our species. Rising sea levels, wildfires, droughts, among other environmental issues have caused community displacements, as well as the eradication of once vibrant animal species. We (or at least some of us) now know and understand that we‘ve caused this conundrum. We must work in tandem to find a solution, especially us, entrepreneurs, who are creative thinkers at heart.
What are some of the sustainable practices you have implemented at La Gotta?
As an entrepreneur, La Gotta has been my platform to contribute to the overarching solution by creating meaningful products through the sourcing of environmentally conscious fabrics and by using manufacturing technics geared to reducing pollution, water consumption, while promoting up-cycling.
We treat 100% of the water used and recycle 60% internally. We‘ve decreased water consumption by 8 liters per bikini and 4 liters per one-piece. We use recycled threads and dye our fabrics with nontoxic ingredients. We are working hard every day to eliminate unnecessary waste and decrease our environmental impact.
How are you leveraging La Gotta to make an impact in your community and around the world?
It is our core value to engage with underserved communities such as Venezuelan immigrants in Colombia, that have had to flee their country due to political distress and reintroduce them in a humane way to the workforce. La Gotta recently partnered with the Wellbeing Charity to promote the conservation of Puerto Rican mangroves in the island of Vieques, a place close to my heart, by donating a percentage of the proceeds from the sale of our recycled linen cover-ups to the foundation. At La Gotta, we believe that you should “Raise Your Glass, Not the Sea Level” which is the inspiration behind our whimsical, one-of-a-kind robes.
What message do you have for someone that wants to start being more environmentally conscious in their daily life?
Everyone can make a change, start today. Whether it is acquiring more sustainable pieces, being aware of the food we consume and its sources, energy-water consumption, and so on and so forth, we can all contribute.
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