From designing and selling her clothes to creating digital content, here’s the story of Oslo-based creative Paolla da Silva
The fashion industry can be a difficult nut to crack, but that doesn't mean it's impossible. In our monthly series, we hear from Scandinavia's young creatives on how they made it – and the advice they would offer their younger selves
“Creativity in the form of fashion has always been a part of me,” says Paolla da Silva, a content creator, model, designer, and one of Norway’s most exciting young creatives. “Growing up, I hosted pretend fashion shows in my grandmother's house, with her plants as my guests. I would change into different outfits that I made from towels and bed sheets.”
Among the things that drew da Silva to fashion was the possibility for freedom, creativity and self-expression. Even when she was little, she always wanted to pick out her own outfits, putting her own personal stamp on what she wore. And today, is no different really, with her social media feeds providing a colourful array of individualistic outfits and statement looks.
Da Silva first moved to Norway from Brazil with her family back in 2008. While attempting to overcome the cultural and language barriers she faced, da Silva quickly realised that she felt different to her schoolmates. “Even then, I felt that my clothing choices stood out. I wore a lot of low-waisted jeans and cropped tops, as well as dresses over jeans, all of which were considered a ‘no-no’ at the time,” she recalls.
I have always been myself and done what has come naturally to me since childhood, but at times, I have doubted myself
Paolla Da Silva
Undeterred, da Silva decided to bring her unique take on style to a bigger audience, creating an Instagram account in 2015, when the platform was still in its infancy. She began sharing her daily outfits and “slowly but surely” she started gaining followers “and since then, it took off.”
Taking the initiative to introduce yourself can often be the invisible key to forming a great partnership, either now or further down the line, da Silva says. “Some of the first jobs I got came about by reaching out to PR agencies and brands over email,” she explains. “After a few jobs, companies began to contact me themselves, and I was soon receiving multiple collaboration requests. I got to join in on what I felt was fun and rewarding. Very quickly, I began dedicating a lot of time and energy into every project I took on, with the belief that customers see and feel the passion and authenticity.”
Da Silva has since used her influencer base to launch a number of side projects. “In 2016, around the time that my social media gained momentum, I also bought a Norwegian online store that sold clothes and accessories,” she says. “The store's assortment was always controlled by what was popular in the market, especially among young people. It made me want to create and sell what I myself missed in stores. And at that time, I missed something romantic, bright, and simple. I have often noticed that I have been ahead of my time with my ideas, but with this online shop, I hit the nail on the head and sold everything out! I’m currently working on a new collection.”
She's also made moves beyond fashion. “My partner and I are involved in real estate development, and when I’m not working, I like to stay physically active, take care of my diet, and learn new things whenever I can.”
If it all sounds like a dream, da Silva is clear that it hasn't all been smooth sailing. “I have always been myself and done what has come naturally to me since childhood, but at times, I have doubted myself. Some days can be tough and others very optimistic.” Having a good group of people around you is key, she adds. “Over time, I have gotten to know some amazing people who have given me strength, often without realising it themselves.”
Photo: Tonje Gulbæk & Camilla Hay
Ultimately, da Silva believes strongly in putting yourself forward. “If you have a vision, go out and show the world what you have,” she says. “I don't feel like there is a set formula, but I think one must be action-oriented in order to build success. Be true to yourself and don't be afraid to try new and unfamiliar things. Be curious, dare to ask questions, and take things with a smile.”
As for her own future, da Silva is currently working on a new clothing collection and hopes to continue growing and learning in fashion - and beyond. “I may be a bit bad at looking back on accomplishments, but I'm really looking forward to the road ahead.”