Layana Aguilar, a fashion designer originally from Brazil who moved to New York City to chase her dreams, got to live out an even bigger dream when she was cast on “Project Runway” and “Project Runway All-Stars.”
After a successful adventure on the competition reality show, Aguilar became a mother and decided to combine her two loves: fashion and children. That’s when she opened The Fashion Squad School in New York City and will soon be opening two more locations.
Layana Aguilar Competed On “Project Runway” Season 11
From a small town in Brazil, Aguilar didn’t see a lot of successful fashion designers growing up. After moving to New York City and enrolling in the Fashion Institute of Technology, she decided to give reality TV a shot and auditioned for “Project Runway.” In an exclusive interview with The Blast, Aguilar talked about auditioning for the reality show.
“It’s crazy to think it’s almost a decade ago. I actually always loved the show,” she said. “My best friend told me I should go on ‘Project Runway.’ I auditioned for season 9 and made it to the top 20 but didn’t make the final.”
But when the show was casting for season 10 and 11, Aguilar had another chance to be chosen to be on the show. “I was so devastated not getting on season 9, but then I got on for season 11. It was a great lesson to never give up.”
Being a part of the show proved to be a great opportunity for Aguilar. She said the show, “opened so many doors” for her. One big memorable takeaway from being part of “Project Runway” was the chance to design the ballgown for Disney’s first Latina princess, “Elena of Avalor” in 2016. After appearing in season 11 of the reality show, Aguilar had the chance to work with Disney through one of the show’s judges, Tim Gunn.
The Fashion Squad School Opened Just Before The Pandemic Hit
As someone who always loved working with children, once she had her own, her thought to open The Fashion Squad School came about. Aguilar, mom to a son, 10, and daughter, 7, started her business idea on a whim with just one student in her living room.
“Once I became a mom and had my circle of friends who are moms, a friend of mine told me her son wanted to learn to sew. It’s so wonderful to know how to sew. It’s a superpower,” she exclusively told The Blast.
“I started with this one little boy in my living room and then another found out, and one day I realized I had 10 kids in my living room. We saw it was becoming a business. Soon after renting space, we had 30 kids and then 60, but then the pandemic happened.”
Aguilar ended up closing the school for a short time during the pandemic, but kept the hope that once she reopened that things would once again pick up. Now, she has 200 students a week, and is in the planning stages of opening two more locations.
“It’s really changing lives. It works for the kids’ self-confidence, and is a wonderful business,” she said. “We are located in Tribeca in New York City and are looking to open one in Connecticut and the Upper East Side.”
The school welcomes children from age 5 and up. “We have 5-year-olds that can sew better than some adults,” she said.
Layana Aguilar Shares Information About The Fashion Squad School On Instagram
Aguilar recently shared a video on her Instagram page talking about her students’ fashion show. She captioned the video, “When it comes to presenting our students’ fashion shows at the Fashion Squad school, I always go the extra mile to create a special outfit. And I do it for them,” she wrote.
“As their mentor, I want to inspire and encourage them to pursue their dreams, no matter how big or small. Seeing the excitement and joy in their eyes when they see me walking into the classroom is truly heartwarming.”
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Her caption went on to say that while the outfit may not seem like such a big deal, it shows the kids that they can “achieve anything they set their minds to.” She concluded her caption by saying, “I am so proud of my students, and I will always cherish these memories I get to create with them.”
One of her Instagram followers commented, “I wish there was an adult version of the classes lol 😍❤️,” and another added, “I love this so much. You are amazing.”