From London Fashion Week 2016 to being one of the top BBC 100 Women, breaking stereotypes and paving a brand new path, is Isabella Springmuhl Tejada. This passionate talented bundle of happiness hailing from Guatemala has the extra gene that makes her even more remarkably talented.
Coming from a happy family with three older siblings, Isabella has explored her career choices as artistically as her older siblings. First tempted to be a chef then fascinated with patterns and beads, but it was finally the latter and her grandmother’s influence of clothing designs that won over her heart and Isabella decided that fashion designing was her calling.
When asked what inspires the designer in her, Isabella says, “I get inspired in Guatemala, its beautiful textiles and colours, they are beautiful and I love them! All the textiles are hand woven and different from any other.” Limitations of Down Syndrome, doesn’t limit Isabella’s ideas, for she further adds, “I also wanted people like me to find nice trendy clothes. Our bodies are different, so, I am designing for them and for anybody that likes colour, textures and happy clothes!”
“Sometimes it takes us people with Down Syndrome more effort, more energy, but at the end, we can do it. Have dreams, and make them come true…see me? I am doing what I dreamed.”
On a side note, Isabella expresses how much her family, especially her older brother, supports her, saying, “He is a wonderful musician, and composes his songs. He has a band – Hot Sugar Mama. One afternoon, after I had finished with my therapies, he found a paper with some sentences I had written using different words. He read it, and told me, ‘I am going to make a song for you, with this sentences you have here.’ and so he composed a beautiful song called Jerigonza, and had it in his first album, I was so happy that I had my own song.”
Isabella love for clothing and it array of designs began from her childhood. Isabella says how it all began, “I always loved cloths, when I was little, I had many rag dolls, and I made them cloths. Then my mother told me I would spend hours looking through fashion magazines and later trace the figures with paper.” With artistic talents swimming in her family’s gene pool, Isabella’s fascination was encouraged when found out that even her grandmother was designer as well, saying, “Recently I found out that my grandmother had an atelier – Xjabelle, 34 years ago. But when my aunt died in a car accident she was so sad that she closed down Xjabelle.”
Today Isabella has picked up where her grandmother left off, saying, “When I was invited to design some bags I named my brand Down to Xjabelle. Down because I have Down Syndrome and Xjabelle because of my Grandma’s atelier.”
“When I was invited to design some bags I named my brand Down to Xjabelle. Down because I have Down Syndrome and Xjabelle because of my Grandma’s atelier.”
Isabella has quite boldly and determinedly jumped over emotional and physical hurdles that have come her way. But initially because of the usual sigma Isabella faced multiple rejections for her University studies, despite Isabella having graduated from a regular high school. She says of her experience, “I felt very saddened when they told me in the University and then in a Couture Academy that I cannot study there.” But as driven as Isabella is and with an emotional strength beyond her years, Isabella took matters in her own hands (literally) and began at the bottom, starting fresh from sewing to cutting cloth, taking classes in a sewing academy.
Designing has made this passionate 19 year old, a star in the designing world, not because she has Down Syndrome, but because of the delicate and intricate embroideries and vibrant colours she uses that positively radiates a boldness making her work an all new trendsetter.
Isabella has big dreams, and with breathless candour she says, “Well I want to keep designing. I want the whole world to know my brand because it is so funny and colourful, and the textiles I use are unique. I want to travel to places, to show my designs, I really think they are cool, I love each one of them, and everything is handmade. I want to participate in fashion shows all over the world.”
Speaking from her experience and sharing her wise thoughts, Isabella says, “Sometimes it takes us people with Down Syndrome more effort, more energy, but at the end, we can do it. Have dreams, and make them come true…see me? I am doing what I dreamed.”
Passionate, bold and very comfortable in her skin, is Isabella Springmuhl Tejada, the fashion designer breaking rules like no one else.