Zoe Damacela

Local fashion designer and Northwestern University student, Zoe Damacela, is already getting national attention at the age of just 20. In business since she was just 14, Zoe landed on the cover of Seventeen magazine last year after winning the Neutrogena “Pretty Amazing” cover contest, a nationwide essay competition that encourages teenage girls to share their stories about what makes them “pretty amazing.” We meet Zoe on Chicago Tonight at 7:00 pm.

Do you dream of starting your own business? In need of a wardrobe update? Chicago Tonight chatted with Zoe about her entrepreneurship skills and where she shops in Chicago. Check out our Q&A below.

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Do you have any tips for aspiring entrepreneurs?

The best thing to do and easiest way to go about starting a business is to educate yourself on everything you need to know about the field you’re interested in. The thing that helped me the most was taking business and entrepreneurship classes. I also took a lot of fashion design classes and sewing classes.

What about starting a fashion business, specifically?

Networking is important. Take advantage of every opportunity. You’re going to run into a lot of different people, and you never know where those people will take you. Everyone you meet can be a resource for you, and follow up with anyone who offers help.

Were you taking these classes before you started at Northwestern University?

I started my business when 14, so yes. I took business and fashion classes in [high] school at Whitney Young, and classes outside of schools at different after school programs and camps. I took some classes through the Network for Teaching Entrepreneurship Chicago. I took classes there all through high school, and they also organize camps during the summertime to teach kids about business. For the fashion side, I took sewing classes at fabric stores, like Jo-Ann Fabrics, and through After School Matters, which is run by the City of Chicago. And I took classes at the School of the Art Institute.

Where can people find your designs in Chicago?

I used to sell my clothes in stores, but I just recently switched to selling my garments online exclusively.

Where do you like to shop in the city?

Gallery37 in downtown Chicago, which is part of the After School Matters program. (Zoe used to sell her designs here.) They have teenagers make arts, crafts and clothes, different things like that. The store then sells their products and gives the money back to the teenagers. I like Fat Rabbit, a traveling vintage store in Pilsen, and Knee Deep, another Pilsen vintage store. I know the owners at both stores. They’re places where people around the neighborhood can come socialize, and the prices are great for what you can get. And I also shop at Urban Outfitters, Anthropologie and Akira.

Interested in entering the Seventeen’s Pretty Amazing contest? Learn more about it on the magazine’s website.

Visit the links below to learn more about Zoe and to purchase items from her collection.

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