REINIER VIGOA

Grey Sheep

Website

reiniervigoa.com

Location

united states

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My interest in design and fashion started when I was very young, around the age of seven I discovered drawing and it allowed me to create my own creative world where I could be the shy, introvert boy I was. Growing up on a small town named Bahia Honda on a beautiful bay in Cuba, I remember my mother asking my opinion about her outfits and teaching me what colors to pair, and why she had chosen those shoes, or those earrings. I also remember going to one of my favorite places as a kid, my great grandfather’s house, and going through my great aunt’s chests and dressers. We didn't have a lot, so I was always looking for interesting things to play with and look at. My great grandmother had learned many things before she married - calligraphy, embroidery, crochet, but what really interested me was that she made her own clothes and her daughter’s. Some of the things I’d find in those mysterious chests were her fashion magazines from the 1940s and 1950s with the latest styles. Inside there were sketches, not pictures, of beautiful dresses, coats, and ball gowns accessorized with gloves and hats and I was fascinated because I had only known post-Castro Cuba.

As a child I don't remember ever being interested in sports or anything that included big crowds of people around me, and I definitely didn't like school even though I was good at it. I guess I just preferred my almost idyllic home life. Life was simple, but I had the mountains and the beaches as my playground and I preferred having one or two close friends rather than running with a crowd. The more I drew the more I realized that I was good at it and I spent even more time inside so I could draw, I loved it then and still do. You might imagine with all the natural beauty around me I'd be outside drawing, but that's not what I wanted to draw.

When I was fourteen, during my last year at middle school headed towards high school (which in Cuba are mostly boarding schools) my friends and classmates, who were used to seeing me sketching all the time during class, convinced me to go take an aptitude test for a special arts school that seemed far away. I had my heart set on going to the same school my friends were going to, so I didn’t see the point in it. But my friends could see that I was different and encouraged me until I finally took the aptitude test and was admitted to Cuba's school for art instructors in the Pinar del Rio Provence.

During my first year there I discovered that my real interest was designing clothes, I also realized that there wasn’t a fashion industry in Cuba to work my way into. I spent four years in art school and soon after graduating I was able to fulfill one of my dreams and moved to Miami with my family.

It was always my dream to come live in America and do fashion, but when I got here the reality of culture shock set in. I spoke a foreign language and was trained to be an art teacher in Cuba but not in the United States. I struggled for years to get established in this country and pursue a career as a fashion designer. Then the unexpected happened and I moved to Minneapolis, where in just a few years I have gone back to school, set up an atelier and opened an online store. I know I'm getting started later than others, but I also know that I'm just at the beginning of what I hope to be many years in fashion.

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