Gisela Alvarez, founder and operator of Brooklyn Funk Factory LLC, was born in Portugal, but grew up around the globe, traveling to and living in far off places like France, Italy, Germany, Spain, The Netherlands, North Africa, to name a few. She finally settled in Brooklyn, New York, and made this her home in 1996. Her nomadic foundation formed her open mind and worldly outlook on life and art. She was always a natural artisan perpetually leaning towards the creative spectrum of being and was increasingly attracted to the entertainment industry.
Early on, a teacher who wanted to sponsor her to attend The Art Academy, one of the most prestigious art schools in Europe, recognized her gifts in school, but because of her unstable home life, she was unable to attend. Due to her difficult upbringing, at the tender age of sixteen Gisela set forth in search of her creative individuality. She was influenced by the grace and lifestyle of the African communities that welcomed her as well as the Hip-Hop Graffiti Art revolution of that era. These experiences subsequently shaped her bold unique style and with that she made the decision to get off the streets and hustle her god given talents; Art Expression.
Gisela's introduction into the entertainment industry began in the music business when she released a dance single in Europe, called “It’s Alright”, produced by ZYX Music. She then went on tour and sang back up for the Reggae group Bon Voyons. Later she recorded for London singer L.A. Williams and Producer Tony Brown. She also recorded with many House Music record labels to boot. Through the music industry, Gisela was also able to express her love for dance. She danced and performed in several video clips for Sony, ZYX music and others including artists like Dr. Alban and Sydney Fresh. She also did a few fashion dance shows for Reebok, Avia, Danskin and the Igedo Fashion Fair.
Her talents were not limited to dance and music, she was also a gifted Actor. She debuted on the big screen in a foreign independent film called “Hermann Schlacht”, from there she was featured in various TV Series. In the late 90’s, Gisela got two brilliant opportunities; a VJ spot on MTV London and a VJ spot on Viva TV in Germany. These offers were a sure sign that she processed the necessary elements needed to succeed in the business, but instead of accepting one of the gigs in Europe, she decided to try her luck and relocate to New York City. Upon arriving in New York, she invested all her energy and efforts into her craft and studied full time at the Lee Strasberg Theater Institute. Gisela started working with The Reel Deal, Inc., a production company that produced documentary “Gangstresses” featuring Mary J. Blige and Lil’ Kim. Soon after, she was scouted by the LA based William Morris Agency and set her up with auditions and directors meetings with major casting directors like Eyde Belasco and Jennifer McNamara. She successfully procured into the role of "Meg" in the play “Crimes Of The Heart” written by Beth Henley and directed by George Loros and multiple other roles in indie films including “The Shoe” by Geoffrey O’Connor starring actor Bruce Altman and “Night Out” by Max Hernandez starring actor Andre Royo.
In addition to film Gisela continued to have success in New York City securing roles in television, videos, and commercials. She landed a guest role on the hit HBO TV series “Sex And The City”, as well as feature parts in music videos for Whitney Houston, Fat Joe, and Swedish Pop star Pappa Dee. Gisela had the privilege of being the sole host for a New York show produced by Nadia Georgiewa for "Freshmilk TV", an online show, where she interviewed NYC based bands, designers and artists including legendary performance artist Joey Arias. Some filmmakers got interested in Gisela’s life story and interviewed her for their documentaries “My Favorite Place” by Danish filmmaker Rikki Ulnits and “A Pillar Of Salt” by Hafiz Faried.
Gisela’s distinct features and magnetic personality naturally led her to the modeling industry as well. She modeled for years and cultivated solid professional bonds within the fashion industry. She experienced great success modeling in Europe for numerous print ads, commercials and runway shows. She held a permanent position of premiere showroom model for Diesel in Germany and later in New York City for five years.
In addition she did showroom modeling for London designer Daniel Poole, Parisian designer Irene Van Ryb, Berlin designer Gesine Moritz, Escada, Mecca and Replay. Gisela's modeling also included a Nippon commercial for Japan, a MTV trailer with NYC photographer Eva Mueller and a Camel Light ad with the infamous and highly respected photographer, David LaChapelle.
GRAPHICS + ART
Gisela's artistic talents are not limited to solely entertaining, she is also a visual artist, that has been drawing and painting throughout the course of her entire life. Expressing herself artistically and visually has been her passion since childhood. Throughout her performing and modeling career, she has been collaborating with friends and other business owners on logos, T-shirt graphics, websites, CD covers and various advertisements and media.
Her client base rapidly grew to include New York City restaurants Blossom, Lola’s Soul Food, artist Richard Alvarez, handbag designer Stone Hubbard, music label Lion1music, Milly's Market, and Rapisarda Boutique, just to name a few.
BAR BIZ + HOSPITALITY
As entertainment and nightlife go hand in hand, it is no surprise Gisela found herself in the club and restaurant industries too. She started working in nightlife as a bartender in one of Bhagwan's night clubs, called "Bhaggy Disco". Bhagwan, also called "Osho", was an Indian guru, owning nightclubs and ashrams all over the world. By the age of twenty-one , she was the operator of "Rheingold Saal" a very popular nightclub in Europe, still existing today as "Poison Club", hosting nearly 1,000 people on a nightly basis. As General Manager, she was responsible for all club operations from hiring and training staff, booking performers and DJs, inventory, and recording the overall daily business transactions and reports. At the beginning of her acting and modeling career, she continued bartending at various clubs and restaurants across Europe. She began working for Noh-Club, where owner Stefan Hollenberg gave her her very own cocktail bar and invited her to create her own signature drink menu with specialty drinks. Upon her arrival to New York City, she worked as a floor manager for hot spot Scharman’s and later Café Noir in Soho. She opened and managed Spanish restaurant 1492 on the Lower East Side and bartended at numerous other venues in NYC like Powder, Glo, Plaid, Exit, Spirit, Quo, Show, Output and Cielo, just to name a few. In 2009, Gisela was featured in Black Book Magazine for creating a specialty drink for Grey Goose Vodka at Cielo nightclub.
Today Gisela’s sole focus is on her company, the Brooklyn Funk Factory LLC. The Brooklyn Funk Factory, aka BKFF, is a business that houses and markets her lounge-chic clothing line WASH&FUNK® washandfunk.com, and her all-natural, organic, vegan, and cruelty-free skincare line MOGI MOUSSE® mogimousse.com. Gisela designs and creates everything herself from concept to finished product, including making her own patterns to cutting fabric, from mixing and blending her handmade skincare products, designing her company's logos, product labels and websites. Her ultimate plan is to expand her business to new heights and levels, but this is still secret work in progress! More to come in the future... Between Gisela's eclectic background, her studies in theater and her growth in the fashion world, it is no wonder Brooklyn Funk Factory has developed into the brilliant multi design machine it was fashioned to be.