Tailor-made for Success
By Diane McMahon
Photography by Christian Lee
Luciana Quiroga is a young woman, not yet 30. There aren’t many decades behind her. But in her last 10 years, she has been on power drive, zooming through a lifetime of events in her personal and professional life. Here are the highlights:
1. At 17, she traveled from her home in Santa Cruz, Bolivia, to vacation with a friend who has family in Hilton Head. 2. She announced to her family she was not coming home. 3. She convinced her family to move to Hilton Head. 4. For her last year of high school she attended Bluffton High (for one week), then transfered to Hilton Head Prep. 5. She learned to speak English (for the first time). 6. She graduated and attended Savannah College of Art & Design (SCAD) as a fashion design major. 7. She graduated in May and met her future husband in June. 8. She opened Luciana, her women’s clothing boutique on Hilton Head with her own line of ready-to-wear and custom fashions. 9. In 2010, she married. 10. In 2011, she has her baby daughter, Emilyah.
Emilyah is now 19 months old and Luciana Boutique has celebrated its fifth anniversary—and is more successful every year. Luciana thought for years she would never marry or be a mother. Now her family is central to her life. “I’m very close to my parents. We text at least five times a day,” she says. Her sister, who also met her husband in Hilton Head and now lives in Arkansas, was expecting at the same time as Luciana. "There are 11 months between me and my sister and 11 days between our daughters."
Marriage and motherhood have changed her life. Before Emilyah was born, Luciana wasn’t sure she could manage her business and motherhood. She shakes her head and recalls, “My clients just wouldn’t let me quit. When she was born, I only took one week off. She grew up here (Luciana gestures around her store) for the first 10 months. She’s a little me; curious, hyper and social. She says, ‘hi’ and ‘hola’ to all the clients.” Luciana’s husband is from Morocco and speaks English, Spanish, French, Arabic and some German. Emilyah is already becoming multi-lingual.
“My husband has a very good sense of women’s style. He goes on buying trips with me and knows what will work for particular clients. Plus, he shares taking care of Emilyah. Together we can make it all work.” They couldn’t decide who would get the privilege of taking Emilyah to day care. So they both take her and then go to breakfast together before work.
In a comment dramatic only in its understatement, Luciana smiles and says, “I think I have an adventurous spirit.” She entered her last year of high school not knowing how to speak English. She became a fashion design major not knowing how to sew. She is now accomplished at both. Her English is just slightly accented, except for the word Atlanta—which she stumbles over, laughs and tries again. Her sewing is impeccable. After a fashion internship in New York City, she felt ready to launch her own store. She is creative. She understands women and their bodies. She’s not hesitant to coax women out of their comfort zones. These talents make her an increasingly sought after designer throughout the Lowcountry.
Luciana loves Hilton Head. “Each person I meet feels like a different world. I like that there’s an older community. The people I talk to have so much experience and so many stories,” she says. She talks about her clients as an extended family. She admits to being easily bored. “I need to have at least three sewing projects going on at a time and my mind is always racing ahead, creating or designing the next thing.” She is constantly up and answering her phone, going in back to answer questions from her workroom, scanning the store’s interior (designed by her sister). This is a woman on the move. She says, “There are so many things I want to do. This is just the beginning.” She has time.
Wake-up call: The sound of her husband’s electric razor gets her out of bed in the morning.
Playing with dolls: Her first design award at SCAD was for a dress inspired by the Eiffel Tower on a Barbie doll model.
Meant to be: When she discovered she and her future husband both drove a black BMW 328 with tinted windows, she knew he was the one.
What no one knows: She remembers every item each client has ever bought in her store.
Visit her store: Luciana is at 37 New Orleans Rd. in Orleans Plaza, on Hilton Head Island.