DCF: So… Who Are You?
Angela Luna, ADIFF, Founder & CEO
Angela Luna is the Founder and CEO of ADIFF. She is a member of the Forbes 30 Under 30 Class of 2017, winner of Parsons‘ 2016 Designer of the Year Award, and winner of the Eyes on Talents Innovation Award. She is a solution-based designer, committed to creating products and services to better the world.
DCF: Why do you love what you do? What makes you funemployment?
AL: This might sound ridiculous, but I love problem solving (DCF: That’s not ridiculous, that’s awesome!), and that is all I do with ADIFF. Finding ways to use design to help others is incredibly important to me, so I absolutely love what I’m doing.
DCF: Who was your first mentor and how did you find them?
AL: Yvonne Watson, the Associate Dean of Fashion at Parsons. She was my senior thesis professor and actually put me through hell while I was working on my project, but she knew I could take it. From the beginning, she gave me the tough love I needed to succeed and has continued to be a guiding mentor ever since. (DCF: All my favorite teachers were the ones who got me and pushed me).
DCF: What’s your happy place?
AL: I’ve been doing a lot of headspace lately, so I find that with concentrated meditation, my happy place can be anywhere! Even on a crowded subway. (DCF: Yes, I wish everyone could understand and appreciate the power of meditation).
DCF: Where do you get your energy?
AL: I get my energy from connection with my end users. It doesn’t happen every day, so when I get the opportunity it is always monumental. Before I had visited refugee camps in Greece, I was feeling very disheartened about everything wasn’t sure if I should keep pushing on with the startup. But then I met the people I was designing for, the people I was fighting for, and I knew I had to keep going. These people gave me the strength to keep pushing – because it’s not for me, it’s for them. This whole brand isn’t about me, it’s about them. (DCF: When you have a mission, work shifts to purpose and it makes getting it all done a little easier and a lot more meaningful!)
DCF: What does balance mean to you and how do find it?
AL: I feel like I am still trying to find balance. I’m a very “all or nothing” person, so when I set my heart to my something, I’m all in. Balance is all about proper time management, which I am normally very good at! But I’m horrible about prioritizing my work over my personal life. (DCF: That’s a struggle I think we can all relate to).
DCF: What sacrifices did you have to make to get here?
AL: I gave up most of my nights, weekends, social life, (and surprisingly) physical fitness to get here. It’s hard to fit in hanging out with friends or going to the gym when you’re working 14 hours a day. I definitely need to take my own advice about balance! (DCF: We’re often better about giving advice than taking it).
DCF: What struggles have you faced as a women in your industry?
AL: I have had meetings where I felt like my ideas were being undermined because I am not only a woman, but a 22-year-old woman. But that’s how you know that you shouldn’t work with someone. I take these struggles as lessons in character.
DCF: What is the early advice you didn’t listen to that you wish you had?
AL: “Go with your gut.” (DCF: BEST ADVICE). I’ve worked with some people who when I first met them, they seemed aloof or unreliable. My mind said that I would be okay, and the pros outweighed the cons for working with this person. But my gut thought it wasn’t. And it turns out, my gut was right! I ended up wasting so much time and energy on these people. First impressions are usually right, and actions always speak louder than words.
DCF: What was your greatest failure and what did you learn from it?
AL: I have had a lot of failures or disappointments where I was so upset something didn’t go well or happen. But then in a few days, or months, or years, something even better comes out of it. My overall lesson from all of my failures has just been to keep going, because everything will work out in the end.
DCF: What was your proudest moment to date?
AL: It’s definitely a tie between winning the Parsons Designer of the Year Award, and being on the Forbes 30 Under 30 list. When I was 10 and first learned about Parsons, I told myself that I wanted to be the designer of the year when I graduated. (DCF: Visualization is a powerful tool. In the back of your mind you have always been working towards this and you did it!!) During my time there, I laughed at my childish idea that I could ever win the award. But I did.
Making the Forbes list was also a fantastic surprise. It was amazing to be recognized as someone who is actually creating worthwhile change within the fashion industry.
DCF: What are you Currently Conquering?
AL: Right now, we’re working on getting an investment so we can start releasing some new products. We have received close to 1500 online order requests for our tent jacket, which isn’t even available for purchase yet. We’re working on getting things together with an investor so we can produce and start making these sales.
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