Ogunte: What's special about your bags and accessories?
DC: It is not just a bag or an accessory. It’s a life story. We want to show the humanity behind each piece of art. We want to be a brand that respects human dignity. We believe in cool, ethical, luxurious products with a strong social mission.
O: How is Castellano different?
DC: We empower colombian indigenous women and we strive to make a positive impact on their society.
We have spent time living with the Wayuu and Arhuaca women and communities, in their precarious conditions to understand how they live, why they weave bags, and what are the main social issues they face daily.
The Wayuu people live in the desert state of La Guajira and the Arhuaca People live in the mountainous areas in northern Colombia, and have been sewing and weaving for centuries. Each woven design carries a meaning that extends far beyond its aesthetic appeal.
We asked ourselves:
1) How can we help to solve their problems through our products?
2) How can we tell their story to the world while showing the beautiful side of their craftsmanship?
3) How can we make consumers aware of the issues?
The status quo of high-end fast fashion needs to change.
We are also different because we want to connect two worlds - the indigenous, native world (origins and culture, traditional handmade items) and the world of luxury fashion (wealthy, high-end consumer fashion). We aim to keep alive the heritage, tradition and the culture of the Colombian indigenous tribes. We also want to demonstrate to the world of fashion that we can design luxurious and innovative products that are still 100% crafted by hand. The status quo of high-end fast fashion needs to change. Our products are products that enhance and celebrate the traditions, while helping today’s communities.
Our ultimate goal is to gain the trust and respect of people everywhere, just as we have done with the local tribes and communities in Colombia. We want to touch people's heart and connect them to a far-away corner of the world.
O: And what makes you different and successful, Daniella?
DC: I have succeeded because I have a passion for what I do, without passion and belief in myself I would never have gone far.
My inner drive and confidence have make me work hard and keep focused to achieve my dreams. I also love what I do, because I feel happiness in every action and decision I make for the company. Every time I travel to Colombia and spend time with the women I feel full of life. Living with the indigenous communities, understanding their life and learning about their craftsmanship is what make me feel happy. This feeling of joy and happiness is greater than any paid job or recognition.
The feeling of freedom is also a big component of my success. I can travel whenever I want and create whatever I want without restrictions or limitations.
I also like to learn about every single step of how things work and how things are made. When I explore and discover people and places, I visualise products that can have a great impact. I visualize how people will react and buy something that makes them feel good or different. I can feel those emotions. This characteristic has had a great impact on CASTELLANO.
Finally, I kept things humble, I am packing boxes, dragging heavy suitcases down the road, knocking doors, asking for help and advice, accepting failure and moving forward. All this has a massive impact in my success.
O: How is your eagerness to become a social entrepreneur stemming from what happened earlier on in your life?
My life experience brought me to be a social entrepreneur. My parents divorced when I was 4 years old and my father moved to America when i was 9, I had always his support from the distance. Sadly, my mother passed away when I was 18 and from that moment I started looking at life with another pair of eyes. I took great responsibilities from a young age. I looked after my two brothers in Colombia and managed to keep my home stable. This experience made me strong and allowed me to discover myself and re-evaluate my life. When I turned 23, I felt lost and I couldn't find happiness in anything around myself. I decided to start CASTELLANO as a way of finding a purpose in my life. I decided to travel to the north coast of my country to find out more about how the bags were made. I found joy and pure happiness while i was drawing bags and making sketches in the desert. I was exploring the life of the indigenous women while I was visualising Castellano as a brand that could represent tribes and make a change in society.
From that time i committed full time to follow my dream and put all my energy and time in CASTELLANO. I thought people around the world would believe in me and support my mission.
O: What do you want to contribute to with your social enterprise ?
DC: Improving lives, helping others to have better life conditions. Understanding social issues like lack of clean water, education, electricity and food. If you can solve problems with a product and make the consumer aware of these social issues, you are way ahead of the majority of entrepreneurs. If you take action and try to solve social problems with an authentic and unique consumer product you are making a social impact in the world.
Since March 2016, we are taking a percentage of each bracelet and bag we sell to fill water tanks and distribute around 10.000 litres of water to vulnerable communities in La Guajira Colombia. We aim to do this once a month and benefit more that 200 families in the Guajira Desert. Also we provide food and clothes to vulnerable indigenous communities in North Colombia.
O: If I tell you “love”, what are you telling me?
DC: I tell you: trust, respect, admiration, loyalty and happiness.
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