Johanna Ortiz is a Cali, Colombia-based designer who’s been featured in Vogue and continuously sells out of her collections. She grew up in the coastal city—one of three major urban areas in Colombia—and currently lives there with her three children and husband.
“Colombia is joy and tropics—life surrounded by palm trees, mystical cliffs, and shades of blue inspires and fills me with creative energy,” she says. “The music, the colors, and the beautiful women keep alive the Latin inspiration behind each of my collections.”
Here, she describes her favorite things—from where to eat, what to see, and the best salsa dancing—in this tropical Colombian city.
What makes Cali special?
Unlike Bogotá or Medellín, Cali is near the Pacific Ocean, so we have tropical weather all year long. Growing up here was a blessing. After I travel for fashion week or holidays, the first thing I do when I get home is take my shoes off and walk barefoot all around my house, which is surrounded by a beautiful tropical garden.
What food to you love that can only be found in Colombia?
Arepas, colorful fruits, chontaduros (peach palms), and lulo, an exotic citrus fruit in Colombia.
What’s your favorite hotel in Cali?
I would say Alferez Real is a great place to stay. It used to be a residence on the west side of the city. It’s perfect for a home-like feeling if you don’t like the common hotel style.
Best spot for breakfast or brunch?
I love to have brunch at the country club, Club Campestre, while watching my kids ride horses. They are Polo players.
Best spot for local fare?
The local market, La Alameda, for a colorful sightseeing.
Favorite places to shop in Cali?
Our flagship store! We have just redesigned it. It’s a beautiful place where we wanted our customers to feel the lifestyle of the brand. Other than that, for home objects I love Palmaro store in San Antonio. Try The Caleñita shop for treats and decor.
Describe your ideal night out in the city…
Best place for live music?
Favorite place to see art?
Museo La Tertulia—the premier art museum in Cali with modern art and a theater.
Visitors shouldn’t leave Cali without seeing…
Plaza Caicedo—it’s very special with palm trees surrounded by Colonial buildings.