NEW YORK (WCBS 880) — Flora Montes overcame a broken home to become an entrepreneur and mother.
She found purpose by cooking for corporations in the Bronx after culinary school and developed a network. She later got hooked on fashion after attending Latin Fashion Week in 2012 and launched her own fashion business, Bronx Fashion Week, two years later.
"Fashion should never just be defined to, you know, six foot tall, size two. So that's the main mission of Bronx Fashion Week," said Montes on the WCBS Small Business Spotlight, sponsored by Dime Community Bank.
Bronx Fashion Week has more events each year than New York Fashion Week and attracts more than a thousand attendees. It highlights local designers and models and benefits non-profit organizations with which they partner.
"One thing I've learned is that fashion is more than fabric and there's a story behind every stitch and we're built on those stories."
Montes recently expanded to serve schools in the South Bronx, and the response has been overwhelming.
"They actually came to me and told me that they had gone to the principal and told the principal that we had to come back," she said. "We teach them fashion history, we're teaching them the runway, we're teaching them the behind the scenes of how a fashion house runs."
The fashion CEO believes future leaders are in those classrooms and hopes to inspire kids to pursue their career dreams despite disadvantages they might face in their upbringings.
"For me, the fashion part of it is about the inclusivity and the diversity. And, fashion is in everything, In everything we do. You can wear a pair of pajamas like I tell my students and you're wearing something that is defining who you are," said Montes.
See this uplifting and inspiring story on the Small Business Spotlight video above.