Crafts and culture that conquers the 'influencers'

From the time they were little, they knew that, at the climax of any movie—in the phrase before the kiss or the final reveal, for example—the plunger would always sound even louder against the presser foot, making it impossible to know the exact moment. outcome. The sisters Susana and Gloria Olmos grew up, they say, with the noise of the sewing machine as a perpetual backdrop. Her mother, a seamstress, always sat next to her. For this reason, in a complicated work moment and while they were recovering from surgery —Susana, from a cervical melopathy that paralyzed her left side; Gloria, from endometriosis—had a boost: Gloria began designing bags inspired by the ethnography of her land, Murcia, and Susana challenged her: “If you take it seriously, I’ll create a brand with this.” This is how Gloriaca was born in 2012, an SME that, 10 years later, has managed to get actresses, influencers and presenters love their bags.

Susana and Gloria worked together in a fashion store so, during convalescence, the idea of ​​starting a business together came up as a logical solution. It was their mother who sewed the first bag designed by Gloria, made up of remnants of various skins, silk fringes and textile trims inspired by the Murcian costume. It was still pure entertainment. But the friends who were going to visit them gave them the idea: “Where can we buy it?” From there, a path opens up, the 10 years of growth and consolidation of Gloriaca until today, which is explained from the right combination of courage, prudence and good work of its members: “The first big decision, a few months after to begin with, was to buy a sewing machine for fur. It cost more than the monthly rent of the house and we had to choose between paying one thing or the other. But we were able to go from making one bag a day to three and, above all, the finishes began to be completely professional, something fundamental because we did not line the inside of the bags: this is how their quality and workmanship can be appreciated, without cheating or cardboard,” he says. Suzanne.

It was Susana who, taking as references the founders of Hawkers, the sunglasses brand known throughout the world, was clear about her commitment to a strong presence of the company online and on social media: “Furthermore, to build our website and our digital identity, I wanted to support myself in other Spanish entrepreneurs”, he adds. The visibility achieved made it possible for a producer of the film losing north contact them: I wanted a Gloriaca for the protagonist, Blanca Suárez. “We designed a shoulder bag with a longer and crossed handle, but keeping its Murcian essence”. At first, they only sold unique pieces and relied, for distribution, on more than thirty multi-brand stores throughout Spain. Then, they began to design limited editions of about 30 bags: “People came up to us and said: ‘I want one like Blanca Suárez’s or Ariadne Artiles’. We couldn’t have just one copy of each model!” explains Susana. In addition, they chose to rely on direct sales and digital platforms such as Correos Market, aimed at local producers and from which they are advertised, sold and distributed anywhere in Spain.

The Spanish ‘handmade’ guarantee

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That handmade Gloriaca’s production falls within the handicraft sector which, according to a KPMG report, moves 6,049 million euros a year in Spain. In the conclusions of this study, the person in charge of Consumption and Distribution of this firm, Enrique Porta, states that, “due to the excellence and reputation of the handmade in Spain”, is an industry with a great future, with the potential “to fix the rural population and reach consumers around the world in a sustainable way”. And, within it, leather goods stand out, which today accounts for a third of all craft production in Spain.

As a matter of design and quality, our bags are increasingly in demand in an international market in which Italy continues to dominate quantitatively, but no longer qualitatively.

Fernando Gutiérrez, general secretary of Asefma (Spanish Association of Leather Goods Manufacturers)

The difficulties of a sector

In Spain, only the best quality leather goods are manufactured; Years ago, it stopped manufacturing lower-end merchandise, according to Fernando Gutiérrez, general secretary of Asefma (Spanish Association of Leather Goods Manufacturers). However, as the analysis published by KPMG indicates, the sector suffers from “a serious lack of appreciation and social recognition, ignorance of its impact, insufficient economic and institutional support and a limited brand image”. The consequences of these deficits mean that the internal market does not grow: we do not buy bags made in Spain. And, therefore, small manufacturers (which account for 84.14% of the sector) tend to “prefer to manufacture for third parties, a less risky option, even if their profit margins are drastically reduced,” argues Gutiérrez.

The actress Maribel Verdú walks with one of Gloriaca's bag models.  |  Image courtesy of Gloriaca
The actress Maribel Verdú walks with one of Gloriaca’s bag models. | Image courtesy of Gloriaca

Gloriaca was born contrary to that trend: it managed to create that brand image that KPMG claims. However, there began difficulties of a different kind: “As soon as we became famous, the copies began. And, no matter how much we register each model in the patent office and win lawsuits, the imitations do not stop, and they do us enormous damage”, the Olmos sisters complain. Gutiérrez from Asefma says that, although it is impossible to put a figure on the damage caused by the counterfeit market in Spain, the International Chamber of Commerce estimates it around the world at around 200 or 300 billion euros a year. Another fact: more than 40% of the seizures of illegally copied merchandise made by the Spanish police each year are leather goods…

To these obstacles, we must add some of another nature, add the Olmos sisters: “The impact of organizing an exhibition of my products or a fashion event in Murcia or in Madrid or Barcelona is not the same; does not have the same return. And we lack the infrastructure to alleviate that hurdle, ”she says. They refer, for example, to the possibilities that would be offered by being able to travel to the capital on an AVE, round trip in the same day, to do business there without the need to move away on a day-to-day basis from the land that their proudly represent. handbags.

Despite the fact that, as Gutiérrez points out, the process is complex for small companies that cannot always make investments in this regard, the KPMG report concludes that the enormous possibilities for development and for reaching new consumer profiles in the Spanish handbag sector it goes through “preserving its creativity and expressive force” and, above all, by digitizing it. A challenge for an industry of the future that must be faced by the generation that is taking over from those who have already achieved the immeasurable task of placing the quality of our craftsmanship at the top of the world. The challenge must be able to be fought from anywhere in Spain, including its rural areas, for which it must have strong support in its presence on the Internet, in constant technological innovation, in the joint work between the public and private sectors and in the lever that represent platforms for exhibition, sale and distribution at a national level such as Correos Market.

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