Flor de María Rivera has been a shoe lover since before she was even old enough to step foot in a kindergarten classroom.
“My mom says when I was about three years old, I used to walk around the house wearing her heels,” Rivera tells Bustle.
Rivera was born in Peru and moved to the United States when she was 14. After working as a sports journalist for 12 years, she started a bilingual style blog to share her love of fashion. And in 2019, she launched her namesake shoe brand Flor de María, which includes just about every style you can imagine: sandals, pumps, mules, and boots.
“After I figure out what story I want to tell, I create a mood board with all the pictures that inspire me, and while surrounded with music and candles, I start sketching away,” she shares. “Sometimes inspiration can kick in at any time, such was the case with Elva. I sketched her on a napkin at a restaurant in less than five minutes. I was inspired by the chandelier at the bar.”
In just two years, Flor de María has garnered a serious celebrity following, with the likes of Kylie Jenner, Normani, and Thalía sporting her red carpet-ready designs. “It’s so surreal,” Rivera says. “Especially because I’m a new brand and I know what it took to get here. It’s when you realize that all the hard work, sacrifices, and endless hours have paid off.”
Ahead, she walks Bustle through her journey as a Latina entrepreneur in the fashion industry, how quarantine has impacted her personal style, and her go-to look for a last-minute Zoom call.
How would you assess the state of Latinx representation in fashion?
We face a lack of representation, even when the economic power of Latinos is one of the largest in this country. Fashion lacks diversity overall, but lately the industry seems to have become more aware of the problem. As time goes on, I truly hope it becomes more inclusive.
On the other hand, the support I’ve received from the Latinx community has been unmatched. I’ve been blessed to have been featured in magazines, newspapers, websites, and TV. Many Latinx celebrity stylists often pick my shoes for red carpets. But it’s definitely been a little harder to break into the U.S. market.
What was it like making the transition from a career in TV to a career in fashion?
I’ve never really stopped doing TV. I transitioned from being a sports anchor to a fashion and beauty expert, and I’ve been doing that for the past 10 years, besides other things. Once the blog took off, that’s when a lot of brands started reaching out to work with me. I always knew deep down that my blog was going to be my platform and stepping stone for everything I wanted to accomplish.
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Which Latinx-owned small businesses are you shopping from these days?
I love Welcome All Beauty. It’s a hair extension line, and it allows me to create fast looks and be camera-ready in less than five minutes. I’m also loving AndyO Organics deodorant. It’s made with clean ingredients, but best of all, it actually works. And last but not least, Queen’s Shoes & More — I got a couple handmade masks and they are so cute and reversible.
How have these months in quarantine affected your personal style?
I used to be on a plane at least three times a month before the pandemic. Now, I have been at home for several months, so my style has definitely changed. It depends on the day and what I have to do. Sometimes, I’m wearing sweats. Other days, you find me in my heels and hair all done. But regardless of what I’m wearing, I’m always in my Flor de María's. As soon as I put them on, they change my mood and make me feel like I can conquer the world.
What’s your go-to look whenever you need to be put-together quickly, say for a last-minute Zoom call?
I love wearing bright tops, concealer, good mascara, lipstick, blush, and voilà. If I have more time, lashes.
How are you staying creatively motivated during this tumultuous time in our history?
It has been hard to watch everything going on in the world. My heart goes out to everyone affected by it. I’m a very positive person, but it takes work to stay positive during these dark times. As soon as I wake up, I pray. Then, I like to repeat positive mantras. I tell myself that no matter what, everything will be OK. It helps.
I’m the type of person who sees the glass half full, so I tend to focus on all the amazing things happening. It puts everything into perspective. I honestly keep things very simple. I love to listen to music, go out for long walks, and meditate.
This interview has been edited and condensed.