Fashion Model, Realtor and Swimwear Designer Paola Diaz is the ultimate girl boss and multitasker. As the creative director of her own swimwear line and employee of a Fortune 500 company, Diaz is doing it all. Today she opens up exclusively to Art Insider about her beginnings, her career and what’s next for her…
You were born in Puerto Rico and now live in Miami, Florida. When did you move and what brought you to the sunshine state?
I moved to Miami when I was seventeen because I had signed with MC2 (now known as The Source). At first, I lived in their model apartment and eventually moved to the dorms at the University of Miami. I came to Florida because I decided to be based in Miami for modeling as well as attend the University of Miami. The funny thing is, I actually was supposed to attend NYU but I changed my mind last minute and enrolled in classes at Miami a week before the semester started.
Looking back on my last-minute decision, I am so happy that I decided to move to Florida. It’s been an amazing past few years where I’ve gotten to grow both personally and professionally.
You have walked in Miami Swim Week and New York Fashion Week several times. A huge accomplishment for any model. What modeling jobs are next on your bucket list?
If I could have the opportunity to model for a brand I love, it would have to be Savage x Fenty. I absolutely love Rihanna’s brand and how there’s so much diversity in her runways. She is a pioneer in terms of inclusion in the fashion industry and I really admire her for that. Seeing her runway show when it came out on Prime really inspired me.
What has been your favourite modeling job to date and why?
I find runways to be more fun than ecommerce jobs. I really love the feeling of being on the runway, but I’d say the most fun job I’ve had has been the music video for the song “Chica Ideal”. I got to meet Sebastian Yatra and Guayna, they were pretty cool. The whole shoot consisted of us dancing by the pool and eating pizza for another scene.
You recently announced you are launching a swimwear brand called Aqua Intima. Please could you give our readers a sneak peek or exclusive insight into your vision for this swim line?
Absolutely! Since a young age, I’ve always wanted to launch my own brand and it’s been a part of my vision board. In the recent years, I’ve gotten very passionate about sustainability when I learned about the impact fast-fashion has on our planet. Fast fashion produces one tenth of the carbon emissions and uses a substantial amount of the world’s water supply. A few years ago, I wasn’t aware of this information but ever since I’ve become aware I decided to contribute by launching my own sustainable and ethical brand.
A lot of people aren’t aware of the difference between ethical and sustainable. Ethical fashion covers a range of issues such as working conditions and fair trade. Sustainable fashion is more focused on reducing environmental impact.
My brand’s suits will be made out of recycled plastics. Some of the suits will be versatile and can be worn as tops or bodysuits. My goal in the end is to design suits that make women feel empowered and confident.
You have a substantial following of over 42 thousand Instagram followers. Was there a turning point where your followers started to grow exponentially or was it gradual?
The growth has been gradual and I’ve really managed to build a larger audience in the past five years. I think in the past five years I’ve not only posted professional modeling photos but I’ve created content outside of modeling that has attracted my following. Sometimes I’ll post a picture of an outfit or a beach photo taken in an iphone and it usually gets just as much engagement as my professional shots. I think building a following on Instagram takes time and consistency. You also have to keep up with the trends and do your research for content creation.
I’ve also had instagram since 2012 so I’ve been active on my page for over ten years now. What’s funny is my first post was from a runway I did in Puerto Rico when I was fourteen- which feels like forever ago! I used to be very shy in school so it still sort of surprises me how far I’ve gotten and how I’ve been able to walk in swim week and NYFW.
When I graduated high school I had about five thousand followers so most of the growth happened when I moved to Miami.
What 3 tips do you have for an aspiring Fashion Model who would like to follow in your footsteps?
I’d say the first tip would be to be confident and never let anyone tell you you can’t do something. When I started out the standards in the fashion industry were definitely a lot stricter. I’m 5’9 and it’s funny cause back then I was considered on the short side for a model, but in recent years the industry has become more inclusive. Today there’s models of all heights and sizes. So I would tell an aspiring model to never give up and find your niche, there’s a place for everybody in this industry.
The second tip would be to build your social media. In this day and age social media is basically tied to your career and I’ve even gotten booked by clients for shoots & campaigns through my Instagram. Although social media isn’t the most important factor in getting booked, I do think it’s important to keep your Instagram up to date with the best images.
The third tip would be to build a strong book and update your portfolio each season. A strong book will definitely get you more work.
You graduated The University of Miami and shortly after obtained your real estate license. What drew you to work in real estate?
What drew me to work in real estate is that I saw potential in the market. At the beginning of the pandemic I had enrolled in a real estate course because I saw the housing market thriving. However, as the pandemic went on, the real estate market really blew up so I joined at the perfect time. I took the state test as soon as the testing facilities opened up again and I immediately went into production. Another thing that benefited me was that so many people were moving to Florida due to remote work so I was very busy!
At first I was not so sure how my real estate career would turn out. In hindsight, it was the best decision I’ve ever made. I eventually went on to work for a Fortune 100 company and became a top performer in the Florida market.
What do you think are some real estate trends to watch in 2022?
Right now there’s still a shortage in housing supply and the interest rates are rising. The high interest rates will balance out and decelerate the price growth. However, high demand metropolitan areas like Miami, Austin and New York will still see a spike in prices. Eventually, with increased interest rates, mortgages will become more expensive which will lead to decreased demand and the housing market will cool. In general though, I do believe housing prices will still increase this year, just at a slower rate.
How do you think Instagram has impacted the Fashion Modeling industry?
Instagram has definitely made a huge impact on the fashion industry. A lot of agencies now encourage their models to build their Instagrams and some agencies have an influencer board. It’s crazy when I’m at castings a lot of brands now ask you for your social media handles and number of followers.
Sometimes when specific brands do a casting they will only consider girls with a substantial following.
However, Instagram has also had a positive impact because it has given models a voice. Models can now use Instagram and TikTok to advocate for change in the industry as well as create awareness about certain topics.
What is your current skincare routine?
My current skincare routine is really important to me. I had a horrible break out a few years ago so I’m always on top of taking care of my skin. The products I use are all from TULA and they are amazing. I wash my face with their cleanser, put on some toner, then I apply some moisturizer. After those steps, I apply Vitamin C drops on my face and the very last step is to apply sunscreen. I apply sunscreen on my face every day in order to prevent sun damage.
What 3 products can you not live without?
I absolutely cannot live without my: Dior Pump N Volume waterproof mascara, tinted moisturizer from Tarte, and glow sunscreen from Tula.
You Can Follow Paola On Instagram @Paola1Diaz