Uptown Fashion Week: How One Woman Created A Local Global Movement
Written by: Pana
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When Albania Rosario arrived to the United States from the Dominican Republic at age 18, she came alone. She did not speak a word of English. Not one word. But sometimes, vision speaks louder than words. Sometimes not even a basic lingusitic understanding is needed to achieve greatness. Albania is a perfect example.

Albania Rosario is the founder and creator of Uptown Fashion Week, a fashion company that provides designers from Latin America an opportunity to showcase their talent during the infamous New York City Fashion Week. Four years ago, she started with a one day show and six designers. Last week, she brought 32 designers from all over Latin America for a week long exhibition. She works with the most talented designers in the world who would otherwise not have access to NYC Fashion week. She finds them, calls them, sponsors them, and brings them to New York City. Then magic happens. Dreams come true. She shared her story of success and key learnings with me. They are both insightful and inspiring.




Most people think it is impossible to start a global company, so they never begin. But Albania shows us the best way to start a worldwide movement is to start in your own backyard, with people who believe in what you are trying to do. Since Uptown Fashion Week’s focus is to bring global designers “Uptown” Manhattan, she first sought help from the City Councilman of Northern Mahattan’s neighborhood of Washington Heights, Ydanis Rodriguez. Ydanis connected Albania to funding and sponsors. He helped secure the illustrious United Palace for last three seasons. He also advises Albania on the implementation of her biggest vision of all, the Uptown Fashion Institute, a local non-profit which will allow students to enroll in fashion-related courses, events and trainings. Her institute will teach topics like photography, makeup, styling, modeling, entrepreneurship, event production, backstage directing, and sponsorship proposals. When you find a local politician who is truly committed to serving their community, that is a perfect partner. Your company grows and vision comes to light thanks to relationships you would otherwise not be able to access.But local help is not limited to politicians. The Washington Heights and Inwood Chamber of Commerce has been an important partnership that enlists other local businesses as sponsors. Thanks to the Chamber of Commerce, local organizations like the New York Presbyterian Hospital and the City University of New York sponsored Uptown Fashion Week. Once word spread, other companies like Snapple and JPlaza Productions came forward to support and expand Uptown Fashion’s Week’s success and reach. Albania told me it is key to find the local bridge building organizations in your neighborhood, and build together.

Albania knew that her global vision required more than local help, so she sought additional sponsorship. Major companies like Ford Motors Company and Delta Airlines saw the opportunity to serve Latin American communities in new ways. Ford Motors Company and Delta Airlines currently serve as Uptown Fashion Week’s largest sponsors. Both companies have a long history of supporting local communities and creating platforms that allow creative cultures to thrive. These companies are instrumental in the production of the fashion week. She is currently in communication with other global leaders looking to reach the Latin American community. And other key organizations and influencers are taking note of the important work Albania is doing. She was recently commissioned to produce a fashion show for the United Nations. During our interview, her phone rang non-stop. She probably received 100 messages. People want to be a part of her work. The possibilities are endless. She has a brilliant road ahead.

And then at the end of my conversation with Albania, I realized why she cares so deeply about Uptown Fashion Week, and her work in general. She shared a story with me about her upbringing in the Dominican Republic. The risks she took to start her own company. She did not want the life that she was told she must live. She works hard. Every day, all day. But she has a mission. She believes that fashion is much more than dresses and hair and make-up. It is about opportunity. It is about expression. It is about freedom and second chances. It is about creativity and love and detail. It is about confidence and beauty and striving to be a little more comfortable in our own skin.It’s a global language that unifies us all, but only if we have the chance to share our story. From the stage. From the expression of what we wear that starts with our shirt but extends to our soul. From the glow of our light and acceptance of our darkness. The revelation of our flaws and the shine of our brilliance that makes up our story. One that makes sense of our past and paves the way for our future. That gives us some meaning to this thing we call life.

Albania’s purpose on this Earth is to share your story. This woman from the Dominican Republic with no English and no family and no connections in the United States is now living her dream. And her dream is to bring you, from wherever you are today, and elevate you to wherever you want to be tomorrow. She has set your stage in New York City. Because she knows that from that stage, you may just be able to change. To change your world. To change someone else’s world. To change the whole wide world. What a gift.

See you uptown.


via  Forbes Brian Rashid is an international speaker and coach.

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