Last September, I took part in NYFW 2.0 by Art & Beauty Magazine. During a casting, I met several models and all of them were from Miami. What were the odds that I would meet fellow Miami models in New York? I thought they were part of one of the agencies down here, and it turns out they were part of DAMA School, a modeling school with several locations in South Florida created and ran by Damaris Aguiar. I was so impressed with the opportunities Damaris provided to her students, as they book regular jobs with designers, boutiques, and shows throughout the US. In fact, DAMA School will be having their annual show this Saturday December 1. My mother and I will be showcasing trash fashion designs from Teens Go Green in the kids show as well!
After our trip to New York, I was so inspired by her business I knew I wanted to be involved with DAMA somehow. I learned that Damaris was actually a former Miss Miami Carnival (which is a huge deal in the Miami community), placed Top 5 at Miss Florida USA, and has been either a top five or semi-finalist in every international pageant she has competed in, despite being one of the most petite contestants there. She has a keen business mind and is extremely professional in her work. She was able to share more insight to who she is and what she does in our most recent interview below.
E: Did you think you would be doing what you do now when you were a kid?
D: Never in a million years did I think I was going to have my own business. When I was a kid, I wanted to be an accountant or economist like my father because I’m good with numbers. Even though I went to business school, I always I knew I wanted to mix my passion with my career. I worked longer hours seven days a week for less pay until I was able to balance everything. The freedom of being an entrepreneur is amazing. I get to travel the world on my free time and still manage a business when I’m gone. Today, I’m blessed to say that I can do both.
E: How did you reach this level of success?
D: It doesn’t matter what field you’re in or what job you do, if you want reach the highest level of success, it’s rather simple. You have to be the best at what you do. I set goals and achieve them with dedication and hard work. So, while competing in pageants, I won several scholarships. This helped me pay off my college tuition. After I graduated from FIU with a double major in Management and Marketing, I applied to Clear Channel and got the job. Meanwhile, I was also teaching at International Models as an etiquette and modeling teacher since the age of 14. After a lot of preparation and research, I opened DAMA School in 2013 and recently became the new Miss Miami and Miss Miami Beach scholarship program director for the Miss America Organization. Miss Rose, the former Director and my mentor, always wanted me to continue her legacy. By changing my habits, I was able to accomplish everything. Doing so allowed me to celebrate each personal success along the way.
E: Were there any obstacles you had to overcome in your path to success?
D: Born and raised in Cuba, I was a very creative and studious young lady. I was an active student who attended flamenco, ballet, arts, gymnastics, and piano classes. I thought I had it all, until one day my parents told me we were leaving to the United States. At the age of 12, things which had come naturally to me, now became very difficult, and my English was non-existent. This challenged me. I had to work even harder to adapt to my new environment and culture. In addition, standing at 5’5 feet tall in the pageant and modeling world, I had a very low chance on making it far. But I never gave up and did it. Furthermore, created DAMA School was a quite a challenge, but six years later, the school has become very successful.
E: How do you deal with people that try to put you down?
D: I believe the first thing to know is that a happy, self-confident person does not put others down. They might provide constructive criticism but they don’t attack or offend others. I try to stay away from very negative people as much as possible. Emotionally detaching from a person like this can be hard to do but I refuse to become involved. I don’t allow that person to make me feel bad about myself or anything I do. I never give them that power. I just simply ignore them and focus on what I have to do.
E: What is a typical week for you?
D: I’m a highly driven individual. I love to learn and know a little bit of everything going on around the world. A typical week for me is always different. I undertake a wide range of activities related to fashion, environment, politics, and business to provide the best version of myself. I’m always in meetings, going to DAMA, doing yoga and kickboxing, spending time with family, traveling and playing Sudoku, among other things.
E: What do you love most about being a woman?
D: Being a woman is a blessing. I believe we are strong, determined, caring, great communicators, listeners, and leaders. As a woman in the business world, it is very hard to prove that we can do it all. I always find a way to change people’s mindset by sharing my knowledge and story. I never knew how far I could go until I opened DAMA School. I learned that I was capable of accomplishing anything I set my mind to. Teaching is an inspiration that keeps me going. It is full of life lessons where I also learn from my students and everyone I work with.
E: What is one thing you need to share with all the young ladies reading this article?
D: A career in modeling or pageantry can offer fantastic opportunities to travel the world, meet diverse and interesting people, and generate a good income. But before starting out, it’s important to be aware that today modeling is a highly competitive industry. You have to build a thick skin and be professional at all times. Don’t get lost in the status and always have a positive attitude. Get more involved in the community and surround yourself with professionals and hard working people. Be safe, be you!
E: What do you plan to do in the future?
D: Developing DAMA School was my ultimate goal. In the future I would like to make DAMA School a non-profit and open the doors to everyone who wants to learn modeling and etiquette. I will be walking down the aisle soon to marry an amazing man who I would love to create a family with. My wish is to one day show my children the importance of mentoring and helping those in needed.
E: What advice would you give to someone reading this article?
D: Give chances to those who work hard and are loyal. Do not judge someone on where they come from or their financial status. Look at what they can offer as a professional and to our society. Do not give up. Finally, as a teacher I recommend that all parents support their children no matter what path they take in life.
E: How can our readers get involved in your cause?
D: I started a annually event called DAMA Show where artists, designers, influencers, models, and many people support and raise money for our DAMA Dreamers Scholarship Program. We have raised over $7,000 in scholarships for ten lucky ladies in the past five years. This enables DAMA School to be inclusive of ladies from all backgrounds and lifestyles. Every year more and more people get involved in the cause. Anyone can get involved, from sponsors to vendors to models. If they want to help, they are welcome to contact us.
E: Anything else you would like to share with our readers
D: This upcoming Saturday, December 1st, 2018 we are having our 5th annual DAMA Show. I would like to invite everyone to our family event. It’s taking place at Hyatt Regency Miami from 12-6pm. The show is divided in three segments, kids, teens, and adults. They would be modeling for local and international designers and stores who will be showcasing their latest trends. Tickets are only $25 and while you wait, you have fabulous vendors for a shopping experience. Feel free to email us at firstname.lastname@example.org or go to our website www.damaschool.com