Alessandra Perez-Rubio and Louisa Rechter Takacs’s story began many years ago. Having met in college, they immediately bonded over their familial parallels, particularly their tie to the Philippines. In 2014, the duo was living in New York when all of their friends started hosting engagement parties, weddings, and eventually baby showers. Constantly trying to find the perfect dresses, they realized that everything they liked was designed by brands that had hefty price tags, with no altruistic mission or customer service perks attached to them. They yearned for something affordable yet high-quality and timeless. They created Mestiza with hopes to give both women and their dresses the spotlight they deserved. We caught up with the founders to learn more about their brand, and how they strive to inspire women to live their best and most authentic lives. In their words, “when you purchase a Mestiza Item, you leave a legacy by supporting a brand that pays it forward to past and future generations of women.”
Tell us about your journey to starting Mestiza.
Louisa: After having worked in fashion for several years, we had the entrepreneurial bug. It all started one night over drinks in Manhattan where we were commiserating over the fact that we had so many black tie weddings to attend and “nothing to wear.” The dresses in the market were overpriced designer gowns or fast-fashion quality that wouldn’t stand the test of time and risked us looking like everyone else. We wanted to create thoughtful and ethical designs that give you a polished, timeless and bold look. It all started with cocktail and evening and now we’ve expanded into daytime, lounge, and accessories so you can get the Mestiza polish no matter the occasion!
What inspires you both? Many of Pam’s designs are inspired by childhood travel memories and time with her family, do you have a go-to source of inspiration?
Alessandra: So much of our inspiration comes from vintage photographs of our mothers and grandmothers in the Philippines in the 1960’s. Whenever designing a collection I always love going back to these photos, and I always try and imbue this sense of vintage glamour into our collections season after season.
Do you have any treasured travel memories with your family? Or destinations you keep going back to? Where do you go and what is one of your favorite memories?
Louisa: Every year, my family escapes the New York cold and ventures to Palm Beach, Florida where my parents reside during the winter. When I was sans kids, my husband and I would go to parties, meet up with friends in Jupiter, go out for romantic dinners…but now that we have kids, it’s actually even more fun. We spend the day at the beach, take naps in the afternoon, drink margaritas, and drive my dad’s vintage 1957 thunderbird convertible to get ice cream, enjoying the honks and cat calls from passing pedestrians!
Alessandra: Some of my favorite vacations are when my whole family gets together. I am the youngest of 5 children, so these gatherings are always so much fun, although these days they are few and far between since my siblings and I are scattered. Some of my favorite memories are when we would be back in the Philippines over the holidays and go to the beach for new years!
Can you share with us one of your family travel traditions? What puts you at ease and ready to relax?
Alessandra: Now that it is difficult to get back to South East Asia, we have made it a tradition for the whole family to get together on a big trip every two years. My mother usually picks the destination and all five children fly out from all over the globe to be together. A nice glass of cab is definitely my go-to to relax!
We have to ask: what’s in your bag? Tell us about your everyday essentials in your Pamela Munson bag.
Louisa: I always laugh about this because I’m just like my mom … I’m polished and put together on the outside, but my bag is usually a jumble of lip gloss, an assortment of receipts, head phones, and nowadays, usually a spare diaper and some plastic baby toy! I think having this new Pamela Munson bag will inspire me to pare down and curate a better assortment. I’ll report back!
How has your style changed over the years?
Alessandra: From my early 20’s to my mid 30’s I think my style has become a lot less trend driven and more classic. I used to wear a lot of leather jackets and monochromatic hues, and now I embrace bright colors and silhouettes that are bold yet versatile. I think Mestiza has evolved in that way too. Looking back at my earlier designs I definitely see creative choices of a more naïve designer, and it is so cool to see this growth over the years.
You both have impeccable taste with the most refined eye. What is your favorite style from our Resort '22 Collection?
Louisa: What’s not to love! Pamela has the best taste. She’s one of those designers you can always trust to make you look stylish and chic. I love my Mixed Media Bow Bag but I also can’t stop gushing over La Fleur Fringe Clutch. They both add a sense of easy glamour to any look.
Straw isn’t solely reserved for summer or beach getaways – how will you be styling your Pamela Munson handbag for the winter months?
Louisa: I completely agree – straw is not just for summer or the beach. It’s a unique, seasonless texture that adds interest to any outfit! I love my Mixed Media Bow Bag. Bows for one are always a Mestiza favorite…and being in a dark navy makes it a great transitional piece. I’m wearing mine as an accoutrement to our Martina Mini Dress.
If you could take your new Pamela Munson handbag anywhere in the world, where would you go and why?
Alessandra: I have been to Italy many times but I’ve never been to Positano. I have been daydreaming of visiting for the past two years. Now that travel has gotten easier I am hoping to visit this summer! And why? The picturesque views and colorful architecture, it’s right on the water, the incredible seafood, and lastly because it’s equal parts glamorous and romantic. I can picture myself wearing our Natalia dress with our Pamela Munson’s mixed media bow bag, exploring the city and eating tons of pasta!
As a fellow female founded brand, what do you feel as helped shape your brand the most in the fashion space especially during the uncertain times of 2020 – 2021 and/or any advice you have taken that has helped you build Mestiza?
Alessandra: In March of 2020 Lou and I went into damage control, doing whatever we could to salvage our business. But the effects of the pandemic were far too great, so we had to come to terms with the hand we were delt. It was in that very moment we chose to embrace e-commerce and broaden our product assortment. Mestiza’s big pivot was a response to the change in the market and category, and while we were forced into it, we still saw the opportunity. We inherently knew the world was changing, we couldn’t keep up with the status quo if we were going to survive as a business. All the things that were inevitably going to happen did, they just happened faster. But now, more than ever, we see more light at the end of the tunnel than we had before- more control over our business and more Mestiza products out in the world for more people to enjoy!