What is the story behind Clara Barcelo? What inspired you to create the brand?
At the end of 2010 while I was studying, despite initially having a great fear about starting to design, I decided to try making a small group of shoes with different strips of coloured leather across them. I dedicated my time, energy and love to every individual detail and material that I chose. After overcoming many of my doubts and seeing that my designs were a success on social media, I decided to risk opening a showroom in San Isidro, Buenos Aires, Argentina. From this moment on, I had to start speaking in the plural, because as the workload increased so did the number of people in my team! We quickly started to appear in many areas of Argentina. With great joy, effort, dedication we managed to have our designs featured in multi-brand stores. Shortly after, we opened our first store in San Isidro which was another challenge that we were able to overcome with very good results. We generated a very loyal clientele that continues to follow us and anxiously awaits the launch of our new products.
As we grew, responsibilities increased and at the beginning of 2015, Tomás Pueyrredon, my boyfriend and current partner, joined me to take care of the administrative part of the business. Today we are the two in charge and we complement each other in the work that we do every day. After one and a half years we opened a second store in Recoleta. One year later, we opened a franchise in Rosario and the next in Palermo and Pilar; all of which are cities of Buenos Aires. Today you can find us at 5 exclusive locations including Clara Barceló + an outlet in San Isidro which we call "Deja Vu". Little by little we put together an excellent and supportive team. We have grown together and have managed to turn each new challenge into an accomplished achievement. We strive to propose something different and personal; from the designs right through to the customer service. Today we look back and we value each of the experiences from which we learned a lot. They have strengthened us and helped us to grow.
One of your main goals is to create comfortable and high quality products and designs. How do you achieve this through your creative process and development?
Over the years we have worked hard to build a good work team in which we trust and through that we manage to achieve an excellent quality of product. We care about achieving a unique and high quality design that, at the same time, is also comfortable and light. To make sure of this, at the end of each season we finish by asking out staff to complete a report with any information about the collection and ask for feedback and suggestions. This allows us to then take these ideas further into the next season and work to improve what we do.
Although we do not have our own factory, Clara designs all of our pieces and we work with factories that handle the making of the pieces to an excellent quality. We like to be very hands-on with the production and follow each process to make sure that everything goes as we are expecting. Once we receive the merchandise in our warehouse we do a quality control test to make sure that the merchandise arrives at the premises in excellent conditions.
"Today we look back and we value each of the experiences from which we learned a lot. They have strengthened us and helped us to grow. "
What is the main philosophy of the brand? Do you take into account the care of the environment and the ecological process of the final product?
Our logo says "Heart Crafted Shoes", this sums up the brand philosophy. The main aspect of our brand is that we put our hearts into everything we do, from the designs, to every decision we make as a company to make it a personalised experience. Our products are 100% leather for a matter of comfort and that allows the foot to breathe but we are conscious of trying to make the best use of the material and for that we reuse the leather discards for the soles of the shoes that are processed and reconstituted leather . Our boxes are made of recycled cardboard.
How does the brand generate new followers? What marketing strategies do you use?
We try to add a bit of humour to our products by choosing funny titles for each piece that are related to some feature of the shoe (such as "I nailed the seen" a sandal with leather trimmings that looks like the blue tick of WhatsApp, "I got pierced" a sandal with openwork leather, "Shoe I stay or shoe I go" is a parody with the song of The Clash, "Should I Stay or should I go" and playing with the word "shoe." Whenever we post on our social media accounts we make sure to feature the products name alongside the photo as well as a funny anecdote about the title. This is something that our clients are very attached to and it allows us to generate a very loyal clientele. When they come to the shops they will even refer to the products by their names!
Does the brand follow trends or do you create your own trends?
We always like to know what trends are being used but we often do our own thing when it comes to our designs. There are times that our collection does not include the "it" colour of a certain season and there are other times that we take something from a trend, for example a pair of shoes but adapt them to fit with our style by applying different rustic leathers and studs.
What kind of materials and designs you visualise at the moment of creation?
We love textures and combine them and also experiment with several styles within the same design. For example a Texan boot can have a metallic leather, combined with an opaque leather and with an embroidery of flowers and appliques of sticks. In general, the materials that we use are of rustic finish but often we combine them with some varnished or metallic leather. We love craftsmanship in braided leather, embroidery and drawings with hand-placed studs. We always include these techniques in our collection by applying them in different ways.
What motivates you to get more followers? What kind of experience does Clara Barceló give its customer?
We love seeing the repercussions in the social media networks and all the comments are usually very positive and that motivates us a lot. We've also had people coming into the store on several occasions saying that they knew the brand because they had seen one of our pieces worn on the street by someone and wondered where they were from. The products speaking for itself is the best advertising and we love it. In-store we always try to make the shopping experience very warm and personalised. We make sure to train our staff in communication and understanding of the products that they're selling as well as designing our premises to simulate the living room of a house and create a homely environment. Nowadays, online sales are growing a lot and we try to make the shopping experience and after-sales service as personalised and warm as in the stores.
What is the sales chain like for Clara Barcelo? Do you sell to retailers and wholesalers?
We have 6 exclusive premises of which 3 are local (San Isidro, Recoleta and Outlet in San Isidro), and 3 are franchises (Palermo, Pilar, Rosario). We also have wholesalers in Buenos Aires. This season we added a client in Chile and we are very happy that our designs have crossed the mountain range and have been very well received over there. We also sell online on our website.
Where would you like to take the brand and what long-term goals do you have in mind?
We would love to grow with our own stores in Argentina and develop the brand to be able to sell all over the world. Today we receive many inquiries from other countries of people interested in buying and we also receive many tourists who buy us in the premises in Buenos Aires.
"The products speaking for itself is the best advertising"