The Unstoppable Talent of Rising Fashion Designer, Shantall Lacayo

They say that true ambition cannot be stopped. When the road to a dream career comes to unexpected veers and turns, sometimes it's hard to want to stay on the track. For others, the challenge is just an initiative to drive faster. Such is true for Nicaraguan fashion designer, Shantall Lacayo. From a very young age her life's aspiration was to develop her own fashion brand. After years of hard work, dedication, and an unrestrained drive it seems that her dream is coming incredibly close to being a reality. 

Having a mutual connection with Lacayo, I had heard a lot about the triumphs and tribulations the designer has faced throughout her developing career. Finally, after years of curiosity  I was able to meet her in person. She had recently visited New York to meet with a mass of potential buyers and interested media outlets. After one of many long days filled with appointments, we met in Manhattan's East Village to view her most recent collection as well as discuss her past and present over a relaxing glass of wine. Overcoming the rain that day, I was immediately greeted with Lacayo's bright smile and warm personality. We entered her friend's apartment building to sit down with a few friends and hear all about the passion she dedicates her life too.

A look from Lacayo's final Project Runway collection.
The daughter of an artist and an art gallery director, it seems that it was virtually in Lacayo's blood to pursue a creative profession. As a child she took an interest in dance and in fashion, splitting her time attempting both. While she wasn't taking modern dance classes, Lacayo was implementing her newly found sewing skills creating unique dresses for her dolls. It wasn't until her teenage years that Lacayo finally found a way to incorporate both of her interests into one project. Her first opportunity to do so arrose when she altered one of her dance outfits. The redesigned look garnered many compliments amongst her colleagues and soon enough Lacayo was designing costumes for the entire company.

The buzz Lacayo received for her costumes quickly grew outside of the dance ensemble and were noticed by other women in the community. This provoked the young designer to ultimately chose one passion over the other. After some consideration, she decided to open up her own altier in the Nicaragua neighborhood she grew up in and started a business making custom dresses for women in the area. When she wasn't working at her atelier, Lacayo was taking undergraduate classes in marketing, which she believed would give her knowledge she needed to propel her business. However, Lacayo's attraction to the field only grew stronger and so, she knew that it was necessary for her to go to fashion school to expand her skill set. She aimed for schools in Paris and New York, where she knew her brand could really come to life. Unfortunately, Lacayo and her family regrettably could not afford to accommodate studies in the United States or Europe and so South American fashion center, Buenos Aires, seemed like the best option for Lacayo to take the next steps in burgeoning her career.

Employing her mother to supervise her atelier in Nicaragua, Lacayo excitedly moved to Argentina to study textile design, a major she believed would only further assist in expanding her fashion brand. Lucky for Lacayo, college was not the only opportunity available to her in Buenos Aires. The popular American fashion design competition, Project Runway, was set to debut a Latin American version of the series in Argentina. Having heard the exciting news, Lacayo immediately applied to the competition and fortunately made it to the show. It was the perfect gift Lacayo could ever dream of and for the first time in her life, the only thing she needed to worry about was her art. Putting aside financial woes and relationship obligations the competition allowed her to temporarily engage her focus entirely on her work and her own life aspirations.

Project Runway's final reward would have been a great starting point for Lacayo's brand. The prize offered the winner $20,000 to start their own label, a catwalk show at Puerto Rico fashion week and the cover look of Elle Mexico. Lacayo wanted it all more than anything. She won the television series' first challenge and advanced all the way to the season finale where she competed against designers, Jorge Duque and Catalina Rautenberg, for the first season's ultimate prize. Completing her entire collection without a team in Buenos Aires, Lacayo created a beautiful final collection for the show, but unfortunately did not win the Judges' final vote. Although upset by the loss, Lacayo kept her determination and knew that this in no way determined her brand's potential. There is no way she would give up then or ever.

Now, a few years after the show's termination, Shantall Lacayo is a name known to fashionistas around South America. She has recently showed her spring collection at the Dominican Republic's fashion week and is set to present again in Nicaragua later this summer. Her recent trip to New York also promises some exciting news to come in her brand's North American development. Hearing her story and learning about her progress, it was an absolute pleasure meeting and speaking with Lacayo. She is an inspiration not only to other aspiring fashion talents, but to anyone with a dream who refuses to let anyone or anything get in the way of it's growth. No matter where she came from or how much money she had in her pocket, Lacayo never gave up. I look forward to seeing her continue to succeed.

Check out Shantall Lacayo on facebook and twitter. All photos courtesy of Shantall Lacayo.


  1. This is a great post; I love learning about designers' journeys to success! Plus, her designs are so beautiful!

  2. This is a great post detailing the designer's journey. Also--I really love her wave hems--I can see them appealing to a lot of different types of people!


  3. Love her designs!


  4. I am unsure how to dress it up. It is a gorgeous dress but I would call it one of those dresses you could either glam up or down. hair extensions

  5. From a very young age her life's aspiration was to develop her own fashion brand. After years of hard work, dedication, and an unrestrained drive it seems that her dream is coming incredibly close to being a reality. mejor movil del mercado