Francisca Pineda recognized her calling at a very young age. "I always knew I would be a designer in New York," she said, adding that her earliest creation was her own first communion dress, right down to detailed pleats and ribbons. But she didn't know that she'd also grow up to be a big-time mover and shaker in the world of ethical and eco-friendly fashion.
Not only does Francisca help head up the Ethical Fashion Academy (one of the highlights is its sustainable Soho tour), mentor students through the Fashion Portfolio Academy, and lead an annual sustainable fashion workshop in Costa Rica, but the Parsons and FIT graduate also has her own cruelty-free, eco-friendly footwear label, Bhava, co-founded in 2013 with Rushali A. Sanghani.
Bhava's super-stylish flats, sandals and booties in vibrant colors and rich fabrics like recycled microfiber and reclaimed wood make animal products obsolete.
"Eventually I would love to be recognized as one of the first designers to bring a cruelty-free, conscious approach to fashion accessories to the mainstream, and to change the idea that 'leather is luxury,'" Francisca said.
We're beyond excited about what's next for Bhava -- a fall boot collaboration with Vaute Couture.
Read on for more about that project, as well as Francisca's favorite beauty product, dream haircut and outlook on the future.
How Bhava was born:
We launched last year, but had the idea for vegan footwear for several years. In my case, deciding to do an ethical fashion collection means many things, [and] any fashion item that involves cruelty to me is very difficult to qualify as ethical. After learning firsthand about the toxicity of leather production, and the dead zones being created in the poorest parts of the world, my goal is to provide a high-quality alternative to the current assortment of footwear available.
[Vaute Couture founder] Leanne and I were both speakers at this year's Sustainable Textile Conference hosted by Manufacture New York. That is where we first met. I am a big fan of her product and mission, and the time seemed to be right to make some gorgeous boots for fall without leather.
Go-to clothing item:
So boring, but probably made-in-U.S.A. stretch cotton high-waist jeans from Kaight in Brooklyn.
Vegan beauty secret:
The only lotion I use is pure 100% organic argan oil. One ingredient, no mystery chemicals, and I truly believe this and a daily green smoothie will keep the wrinkles away!
Favorite fashion moment in a film:
I love French New Wave, especially Jean Seberg in Breathless. She is perfect timeless chic, but with a touch of edge. For a long time I had a pixie cut and loved it, but could never get it quite like hers.
I love fashion illustration and like to attend live-model drawing at the Society of Illustrators as often as I can.
Into the future:
I've always liked change and looking forward …After working for over a decade in the [fashion] industry, my goals have expanded beyond my experience, and my passion is working towards a sustainable world beyond just our lifetime.