Ottawa, the beautiful city I call home, has a reputation for being a little stuffy and conservative but thankfully, that reputation is changing slowly but surely.
Our fashion scene is growing steadily with the opening of such stores as Nordstrom and Stuart Weitzman, and amazing independent boutique options such as Wunderkammer, Viens Avec Moi Boutique and Twiss & Weber.
Something that I notice about Ottawa is its lack of public relations (PR) firms that aren’t geared towards government agencies. Most of my beauty and fashion PR dealings are with large agencies based in Montreal, Toronto and the US, and I always wondered why there wasn’t an agency in Ottawa. Well, I think someone was eavesdropping on my thoughts.
I recently received an invitation to the launch of The Exclusives PR – a PR company completely devoted to fashion. Words can’t express how badly our city needs this.
I had the opportunity to interview the lady at the helm of this new company, the ambitious Naíra Fragoso da Costa. A dynamo already at the tender age of 20, Naíra is in the midst of completing her Bachelor’s degree, has years of modelling experience under her belt including walking shows during Montreal Fashion Week and speaks five languages fluently including French, Italian, Portuguese and Spanish.
This confident young woman looks up to PR maven and general bad-ass Kelly Cutrone as her idol and mentor, and has a fresh, modern view on fashion.
Read on to learn about this mogul in the making…
Naíra, this is the start of this interview, and I’m already impressed. Tell me about yourself.
I’m a student at Carleton University currently completing my third year in Media and Communications. I am Angolan and Brazilian and my family and I have lived in New York City before moving to Ottawa.
Ahhh New York. That explains the love of fashion!
Yes! I live, breathe and eat fashion! As a highschool student, I started a page devoted to fashion in my school’s yearbook. I’d interview stylish students and that’s how I left my mark at school. I also come from a very fashionable family, so it’s in the blood.
I’ve also been modelling since I was 15-16 years of age, but I always considered modelling a stepping stone to opening my own PR firm. Through modelling, I connected with clothing designers, makeup artists, photographers, etc. While I still model now and then, finishing school and growing my business is my ultimate focus.
Was there a main inspiration or event that inspired you to start your own company?
When I was 17, I founded the first Portuguese-speaking student association and was the Director of Public Relations. Unfortunately, I felt that I wasn’t learning PR activities such as drafting press releases and proposal letters.
I befriended some fellow Ottawans that worked in PR and got the opportunity to work in a PR capacity for Ottawa’s Latin Film Festival. I was also presented with a PR opportunity to work with Bohten Eyewear which was featured on Dragon’s Den.
In addition, I worked several different jobs that I didn’t like such as reception within government. I’m a people person, I like to be energized – I can’t sit in a cubicle all day. I also don’t like working for others. I want to be my own boss. Life is valuable! You need to live it to the fullest!
I agree completely. So, you’ve experienced firsthand what you don’t want out of a job. What can you offer your own clients to ensure a great working experience?
People in Ottawa want change, want options that weren’t present before. I love producing fashion shows, for instance. I want to provide designers and boutique owners a fashion show experience that is different from your usual straight runway with a curtain at one end that models emerge from – more original, out-of-the-box ideas. There are so many cool, fresh venues in Ottawa to stage a runway show. A great venue would be the Carleton University tunnels. How cool would it be to stage a fashion show there? I want to offer people a fresh perspective.
Now, how about diversity? Do you plan on being a more inclusive type of company recognizing the different cultures and languages in our area?
Yes! I want to cater to the francophone population equally too as there is a large French presence in Ottawa.
After stalking your Instagram and Facebook accounts, it’s fair to say that you have a ton of style! Who inspires you, style-wise?
I love Diane Von Furstenberg. She is one of my favourite designers.
I also love Diana Ross! Diana Ross originally wanted to be a clothing designer and designed many costumes for the Supremes. She starred in the film Mahogany as an aspiring clothing designer. The fashion in that film was incredible.
Being a young woman starting out, you must get a ton of advice. Want to share the best piece of advice you’ve ever received?
“No benefits without sacrifices.” When I work up the courage, I’ll have that tattooed on me!
The Exclusives PR Launch will be held on Friday, January 29th, 2016 at My Byward Office located at 78 George Street, Ottawa, Ontario at 7pm. For more information, please visit The Exclusives PR’s website, Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.