Linda Asaf is a Texas designer with a penchant for lace, chiffon and silk dresses.
Asaf, who is of Mexican and Chinese heritage has her own shop in Austin, a new swimsuit line and an online store. She is perhaps best known for her custom-made bridal gowns, which start at around $1,500, depending on the fabric and style.
But Asaf’s career in fashion might not have happened if she hadn’t followed her heart and taken a risk.
Asaf always knew that she wanted to do something concerning creativity and art, but she started on a very different career path. She graduated from Texas A&M with an undergraduate degree in industrial engineering and earned an MBA from Columbia University. After college, she worked for Citibank and other financial institutes. She was successful, but her career in banking didn’t fulfill her creatively.
She began considering fashion as her next route, but had some doubts.
“I was terrified. I didn’t think fashion paid and generally it’s extremely competitive. Very few make it on the level of success like Donna Karen or someone like that,” Asaf said.
Despite her concerns, she decided to partner with her best friend in New York, and together they launched a fashion line. She sold clothes to major department stores, including Neiman Marcus and Nordstrom, and proved to herself that she could make it in the fashion industry.
But the Texas native didn’t like the frentic pace of New York and missed her family, so she decided to move to Austin. When she arrived in Austin, Asaf began working for a high tech marketing company, but she loved fashion too much to just let it go.
“One of the reasons I love fashion so much is because it’s so superficial. And I love the joy that it brings people,” Asaf said. “If I can create something that brings someone joy or help them feel good about themselves, that’s even more important than me designing something else.”
Asaf strives to make women feel beautiful and special. She donates dresses and raises money for organizations that help those in need.
“I have produced a charity fashion show called Runway to Heaven. We’ve done it twice and we’ve been able to donate $110,000 to local childrens’ charities,” Asaf said.
But this confident and successful designer admits that being a business owner comes with many challenges.
“The pressure and stress of managing the business, which takes up such a huge percentage of my time, [allows] very little time to actually design and create,” Asaf said.
She longs to have the time to sit down and design all day but that’s not realistic. Instead, only 10 percent of her time goes to designing, and the rest goes to managing her business.
In the end, Asaf somehow manages to get everything done by deadline and present her creations in her store and online (lindaasaf.com). As of right now she is planning on expanding her retail business with a beauty salon.
The radiance in Asaf’s face while speaking about her career shows that she really enjoys being a designer. She says she has no regrets about the time she spent in financing, but she is happier being a part of the fashion industry.
“Take your time in figuring out what you want in your career and what you want to major in,” Asaf said. “When you’re doing something that you really love, there’s a certain amount of inner peace that you have.”