I met Vyara Ndejuru (@vyara), ALDO Shoes Marketing Director, last year at the A is for ALDO launch event and was immediately taken by her. At first glance, she is incredibly chic – in that easy, effortless sort of way that makes the rest of us green with envy. But spend a few minutes chatting with her and her passion for her job, ALDO and the fashion industry as a whole shines through; it’s infectious and has left a lasting impression on me. Give my recent interview with Vyara a read and see for yourself.
The Backseat Stylers: What’s your earliest fashion memory?
Vyara Ndejuru: My mother did not allow me to play with dolls for awhile; she would keep on getting me LEGOs. I still remember the aha! moment when looking at a perfect rectangular shaped block, I slipped it into my knee-high red socks, right at the heel, and a perfect block-heeled-knee-high boot was born…
My mother started buying me dolls after that.
How did you get into the fashion industry?
Fashion is my longest lasting love-affair – sorry coco (my husband). I did not even reach the counter the first time I bought German Marie-Claire or Brigitte…I must have been 4 or 5 years old, and yet I knew that this was my “tribe”.
I grew up in Germany. My mother, my role model and a formidable woman, was (and remains) a staunch feminist; she shared with us ad nauseum that fashion was a superficial pursuit and had always argued that thinking women did not waste too much time with it. Enter my godmother: German, a doctor, unmarried and uncompromising; my godmother was the most elegant lady I had ever seen.
Concerned with cut, style and construction, but also literacy, the advancement of women in Germany, Europe and the World, philosophy, child welfare and a million other thoughtful pursuits, my godmother offered a staunch contrast to the portrait my mother had painted of people concerned with style. I went on to model after that, we moved to Canada, I met YSO, etc. But I am sure that Lisa, my older sister, would agree with me when I say that Waltraud Bauer, my godmother, is the reason I got into fashion.
What’s the best part of your job?
The best part of my job is to pay it forward. I come from a traditional, very academic, family and background, and I had to fight very hard to pursue my passion and this career. The best part of my job is hiring/developing young talented people who, like I did early on, have always known that this is where they wanted to be. My team humbles me every single day and it is an honour to work alongside them!
The second best part of my job is learning: about business, my craft, but also about becoming generally better – the ALDO group is second only to my “blood” family in affording me key opportunities to better myself. [Working at ALDO has] undoubtedly made me a better professional but also mostly unbeknownst to me [has] made me a more caring employee, manager and human being.
What’s been the highlight of your career to date?
I want to say that I work hard, but I have been very fortunate thus far. I built the YSO label under Siphay Southidara, in the early 2000’s; we paved the way for Denis Gagnon and Renata Morales and we were ultimately bought out by PARASUCO. Although that venture proved to be unsuccessful, I spent close to 6 years at Salvatore Parasuco’s side, (and) his mentorship allowed me to leapfrog ahead to the career I enjoy today at ALDO.
The highlight of my career is and remains mentors who want to invest in me.
Share one item on your bucket list.
Going to Harvard Business School for my MBA (only when this happens can I go in peace).
If you were throwing a fashionable dance party, who would your three guests of honour be?
Tell me about a fashion faux pas you’ve committed.
Honey, this is a daily occurrence…there are simply too many to mention. Probably happening as we speak…
What’s the one item in your closet you can’t live without?
Which is your favourite pair of shoes?
Right now it is a black moulded rubber-sole ALDO RISE x Patrick Ervell pump.
Where are your favourite places to shop?
Here are my MTL spots: ALDO and Little Burgundy for shoes; Holt Renfrew for make-up and perfumes; Denis Gagnon for whatever I fit into; Reborn for the best Complex Geometries T’s; Want Apothicaire for ACNE and their Want Bag collection; Michel Brisson for when my husband’s been good to me; DUY’s studio for the best slacks and jackets in the world; and The Bay because their turnaround is truly inspiring and because Bonnie Brooks is fierce.
What’s your favourite guilty pleasure?
An afternoon reading in my bed.
Do you sing in the shower?
My children, Charles and Eza-Marie, 7 and 5, are obsessed with One Direction. My shower song is “That’s What Makes You Beautiful”. Sometimes we all jam to it together.