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Meet Alvina Lam of Baliawear in Miami Beach

Today we’d like to introduce you to Alvina Lam.

Alvina, before we jump into specific questions about the business, why don’t you give us some details about you and your story.
A Silicon Valley, California native, I grew up in an immigrant family dreaming of designing clothing. I was petite and grew up having trouble finding clothing that fit, so I used to come home after school and cut, tie and create new ways to wear what already in my closet. However, to appease my family, like a good Asian kid, I studied economics and math and started my career in software tech sales in San Francisco. I successfully scaled the sales organization at my tech startup for two years but knew I was not following my passion.

I decided to switch industries and re-start at the bottom and landed a role as an entry-level Inventory Analyst at Gap Corporate. I worked my way through the organization and Gap taught me the ins and outs of retail management from an iconic conglomerate American staple. The company eventually moved me to New York City to help manage the global international strategy and in my last years, I was managing a team over the Latin America franchise markets across Gap, Banana Republic and Old Navy brands. Through the years in inventory management, I realized how much waste was produced to fulfill size inventory demands.

In November 2018, I made the personal decision to move to Miami Beach, FL, to start my own brand, given all the retail knowledge I had learned to build a brand to take a new way of sizing! Growing up in an immigrant family, I knew I was born with a lot more than others and wanted to thread my love for philanthropy into the company I was building.

Great, so let’s dig a little deeper into the story – has it been an easy path overall and if not, what were the challenges you’ve had to overcome?
Being an entrepreneur and a small business is a roller coaster! Like many, Corona hit our company hard as the world was at a standstill. I was struggling to find a purpose to my days and knew we could do more.

We decided to pivot all business needs for the demand and safety of the community. April 2nd, we introduced our Give Back Face Mask program. Each mask that is purchased, we donate a mask to a local Miami women and children’s center, Lotus House, those who do not have the privilege of isolation. Especially where there is an increase of women and children who no longer have a safe place to shelter in place with the increasing number of domestic violence cases due to Corona. The backbone of our company is to give back, women empowerment, and sustainability and we were more than happy to be able to be a part of spreading smiles and protection!

Baliawear – what should we know? What do you guys do best? What sets you apart from the competition?
Baliawear started to help solve the issue of fit! Like many of us, I continued having trouble finding clothing that fit perfectly. In March 2019, I created a line with a new take on sizing allowing individuals to tie clothing to get a personalized fit. From my inventory background, I knew how much waste was produced to fulfill size inventory demands. This new take on sizing allows for lower and slower production to minimize carbon footprint as well as allowing individuals to easily pass on a re-use items.

In the sample process, I realized that in designing clothing that wrapped to the body, I could also design clothing to transform one piece into multiple different styles. For example, our first item we launched in March 19, a wrap pant that converts into a full body jumpsuit. I want to create clothing items that are investment pieces that have multiple uses that you can transform based on your personal style!

Giving back to the community has always been part of the work that I do. A percentage of all purchases go to various non-profits we are a part of that help to support local communities! In 2019, a percentage of each purchase went to fund Trekking for Kids, and non-profit that helps to build infrastructure for orphanages around the world. Currently, we are helping to pass on the good of our customers, with each purchase made, we donate a mask! We work with several organizations to donate masks to those in need, shelters and workers on the front lines.

What moment in your career do you look back most fondly on?
As a new brand, we hard many firsts and I’ve been very proud of what we’ve accomplished in the first 1 1/2 of the brand! Within the first 2-3 months of opening, we were invited to be a part of Miami Swim Week and New York Fashion Week! After five months, we opened our first retail location on Lincoln Road Mall in Miami Beach!

One of The proudest moments was our feature on GoDaddy’s Entrepreneur Web Series, School of Hustle, featuring up and coming entrepreneurs to inspire others to follow their path! And now, during the Corona economy, we’ve been able to donate thousands of masks, with the help of our community to the Lotus House Shelter and front line workers in Miami and NYC!

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