Women Business Owners Series: Patty Solis, President and Founder of Diverza Activewear
As part of our series on Women Business Owners, we recently sat down with Ana Patricia (“Patty”) Solis, CEO and Owner of Diverza, a company based in Panama with a mission to empower ALL bodies. Learn more about how Patty Solis is creating a community of women who uplift each other.
What prompted you to start Diverza?
Patty: My whole life I felt like there wasn’t clothing out there for my body type. I always had to get my clothing altered – buy a bigger size and tailor it to me because the waist didn’t fit but the hips did. I felt like there wasn’t a brand that was made for everybody. This was further intensified when I became a spin instructor. When I started teaching classes, I couldn’t find workout clothes that made me feel good – how was I supposed to encourage those in my class to be their best and feel their best when I didn’t even feel that way myself? This is what prompted me to start the brand.
I also feel like as women the moment of the day that we criticize ourselves the most and engage in negative self-talk is when we are getting dressed. And that moment has so much more potential to be the opposite – a moment of empowerment instead of a moment to tear yourself down.
You talk about body neutrality on your social media platforms. What does that mean to you and how is this a part of your mission?
Patty: Body neutrality is about not giving so much importance and value to the way that our body looks. As much as the body positivity movement has truly good intentions behind it, it still gives a lot of focus to the body. In reality, there are so many other things that make us who we are and that are a part of our lives other than our bodies. Body positivity pushes the idea of loving your body no matter what and I think it’s a little bit unrealistic.
As much as that’s nice, at the end of the day there’s always going to be things you don’t love about yourself. Sometimes you’ll want to work on certain things to look some way and feel better and that’s okay as long as it comes from a place of wanting to better yourself, empower yourself and feel better – rather than a place of hate. It has to come from a place where it will benefit you and not because society has told you that your body is not acceptable.
What products do you offer? What are the most important things to you when making clothing?
Patty: Right now we offer activewear but soon we will be expanding our line to what we label as “clothing essentials.” These include high-quality, long-lasting staple pieces for your closet that aren’t only flattering and make you feel and look good but are also comfortable including the fabric and elastic. You’ll be able to wear them all day.
How is sizing important for your brand?
Patty: I think the first step to being an inclusive brand is representing various body types across the board. We try to do that on our social media channels and our website. There are so many different types of female bodies and we work continuously to represent a range of them. We are always looking for more women who can feel a part of the community – whether that’s for our website, our social media channels or to be part of the Diverza team.
Inclusive sizing is a big part of this. While producing sizes small, medium and large is much more efficient cost-wise and for managing inventory, it is not inclusive of all women’s bodies. Even though it is financially advantageous, inclusive sizing means offering more. Few clothing brands offer sizes from 2xs to 4xl and it’s something that we are currently working on and will launch soon!
What is your favorite part of being an entrepreneur? What is the hardest part?
Patty: The best thing about being an entrepreneur is having a vision in your head and having the confidence and trust that you can make that come to life. The second part is seeing how your brand impacts society and how many people connect with your mission and brand.
The most difficult part is that being an entrepreneur can be very lonely – there is no one at the beginning who genuinely understands the vision as well as you do. I have a lot of ideas in my head and I try to explain it the best that I can – but it takes a lot of time, patience and mistakes to get to a place where people understand that vision. For me it can be lonely because no one will work as hard as you to achieve your dreams. It’s a lot of late nights and sacrifice.
What advice do you have for women looking to start their own businesses?
Patty: My advice is to just do it. The reality is that we, as women, have a lot of limiting beliefs in our entrepreneurial and business abilities (in any industry!) Despite the feminist feminist movement, we have a voice in our head that says that this isn’t the place for us. The only way to quiet that voice is through action. I think that we are also perfectionistic because we feel like we have to do things twice as well to receive half the recognition. You just need to start DOING. Identify that voice, recognize it and tell it that you do not need it.
What are your plans for Diverza in the future?
Patty: My future plans for Diverza are to make it a hub for empowerment. I can’t spill many secrets about our upcoming plans at the moment so I’ll leave it at that. Definitely stay tuned for our next projects!
Learn more about Diverza.
Read about more inspirational women business owners like Patty Solis.
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