Meet Two Women Bringing Latin American Designers to the US Fashion Scene

  • Giovanna Campagna, left, and Cloclo Echavarria, right, began Creo Consulting after realizing that there was a hole in the fashion market -- and they knew the Latin American designers to fill it.

    Click through to learn about all 9 of their brands (including the one on their heads).
  • Cloclo and Giovanna are wearing  Magnetic Midnight  crowns and Pepa Pombo tops. "Magnetic Midnight is a luxury headpiece brand by designer Lucia Echavarria. Imagined as unconventional bijoux de tête, her creations are unique and whimsical, imbued with a love for craftsmanship. Lucia’s headpieces have become staples at weddings, theme parties and even Burning Man. We never go to a party without them now." -- Giovanna (@MagneticMidnight on Instagram)
  • Pepa Pombo (Clolo's pants, Giovanna's skirt, both tops in the first two slides) is a Colombian ready-to-wear brand specializing in luxury knitwear. "Their hand-woven designs are works of art," said Giovanna. "Whenever we wear their pieces, people stop and ask us what the brand is." Pepa Pombo made its debut in the US market in December 2015 via Moda Operandi and is launching soon at Fivestory, New York. (@pepapombocom on Instagram)
  • "Mola Sasa is an accessories brand by Colombian-Egyptian designer Yasmin Sabet. Mola Salsa's signature clutches are created from artisanal fabrics known as 'molas’ which are hand-crafted by the Kuna indigenous community of Colombia and Panama. Each piece has a unique, eye-catching pattern -- some are abstract designs that evoke Keith Haring, while others are based on pre-Columbian symbols." -- Giovanna (@mola_sasa on Instagram)
  • "Hunting Season by designer Danielle Corona is an accessories brand specializing in exotic skins and leathers. The brand’s DNA is in its elegant shapes, minimal branding, and top materials. Danielle recently expanded into homeware and her table lighters -- made from horns, skins and wood -- have been flying off the shelves." -- Cloclo (@HuntingSeasonNYC on Instagram)
  • These earrings are Mercedes Salazar. "Mercedes Salazar is a Colombian designer known for her eye-catching jewelry made with artisanal techniques out of an eclectic range of materials, from semi-precious stones and emeralds, to fabrics, seeds and glass. Her signature ‘Fiesta Earrings’ have been a huge success in the US market, with our friends, and with Katy Perry, actually!" -- Cloclo (@MercedesSalazar on Instagram)
  • "Carmelinas is a shoe brand by Colombian designer Lina Gutierrez. Lina is a master at reinventing classic designs into fun, contemporary styles. They are the most comfortable, easy to wear shoes; we have found that once our friends and clients buy a pair, they become hooked. We don’t take ours off!" -- Cloclo (@CarmelinasShoes on Instagram)
  • Want to check out more CREO consulting brands? Shop for Piamita's luxury loungewear here and follow the brand on Instagram here.

    Jewelry more on your mind? Look up Mallarino, a brand by Lucia and Isabella Bueno, two sisters from Cali, Colombia who specialize in filigree. Each creation is made by Colombian artisans who have mastered the craft over generations. See what they're about on Instagram.

    If it's a Panama hat you're after, get into Valdez: a line of luxury, hand-made Panama hats with an inspiring social aspect: designer Gabriela Goldbaum has created workshops in Ecuador where she trains and employs local women to craft her designs. Check out the brand online and on Instagram.
Amelia Diamond | March 10, 2016

Learn about 9 new brands while you’re at it

You know the designer Johanna Ortiz by now, right? She’s the Colombian designer who seemed to burst into the American fashion scene in 2015 with her off-the-shoulder shirting and architectural skirts. Here’s the thing: Ortiz launched in 2001. Colombia knew about her for a while. But it wasn’t until two cousins — Giovanna Campagna and Cloclo Echavarria — started a company with the intent of bringing Latin American designers to the United States that Ortiz’s name began to circulate among the US editors.

Today, Echavarria and Campagna’s business, CREO Consulting, represents 9 designers total. Each one is dedicated to a particular craft, each one tells a different story about its country. Below, a Q & A with the two women who are just getting started making their designer introductions.

How did you two decide to start CREO Consulting?

Giovanna: It all happened very organically. We realized there was a hole in the market; we already knew of a lot of talent in the Colombian market, but they were just in need of the right support system. In most cases, designers approached us for representation. When we hosted our first showroom in New York for Fall/Winter 2015, we called everyone we knew in the industry — friends, past co-workers, etc. Luckily, everyone was so supportive.

Our first client was Johanna Ortiz. We now represent Carmelinas shoesMola Sasa, Hunting SeasonPepa Pombo, PiamitaMagnetic MidnightMallarinoMercedes Salazar and Valdez.

A few of your brands have familial ties. Was this part of the intent when starting CREO?

Cloclo: We come from a family that is very big, very united and very entrepreneurial. (We are just 2 of about 40 cousins!) Many of our cousins have their own brands already, so when we launched CREO it seemed only natural that we would work with them. We are related to three of the designers that we currently represent: Danielle Corona of Hunting Season, Yasmin Sabet of Mola Sasa and Lucia Echavarria of Magnetic Midnight. It was never intended to be such a family business, but it evolved into one.

Tell me about the diverse background of your brands. Why is it important to bring these Latin American designers to the US media and markets?

Giovanna: Originally, all of our brands had some kind of a link to Colombia. Our family has a long tradition of giving back to our country, which is why it is so important to us to do the same by supporting Colombian fashion.

We recently started working with some exciting designers from other Latin American countries, too. Gabriela Goldbaum, the designer of Valdez, is from Ecuador. Valdez is a line of luxury, hand-made Panama hats with an inspiring social aspect: Gabriela has created workshops in Ecuador where she trains and then employs local women to craft her designs. (Valdez recently launched with Colette in Paris and will soon be releasing designs for Theory, which is super exciting.)

Meanwhile, Piamita — a line of high-end pajama dressing meets ready-to-wear — is designed by Karla Martinez, who is Mexican, and Cecilia de Sola, who is from El Salvador.

There are so many talented designers who don’t receive the attention they deserve, or who lack access to the global market. We felt we could become a sort of bridge between the Latin American and the international fashion industries. It was also very helpful that at the moment of our launch, Colombia was in an exciting moment of growth, not only in fashion, but also in art, film and hospitality.

Each of your brands have elements of design and handiwork that are part of their culture — how does this help to make your collection of designers unique?

Cloclo: Latin America is such a melting pot of cultures, which means there are many amazing artisanal crafts that our designers learn from and incorporate into their work.

While this definitely makes them unique, we try to avoid pigeon-holing our Latin American brands as simply artisanal and not on the same level as high fashion. We make a point to select brands that can compete on the international level, so any element of artisanal craftsmanship is very refined in their work.

What we love about the incorporation of our brands’ artisanal elements is that it truly does help preserve these techniques by providing employment to the artisans that have mastered them. Mallarino, for example, is a jewelry brand by Lucia and Isabella Bueno, two sisters from Cali, Colombia who specialize in filigree. Each creation is made by Colombian artisans who have mastered the craft over generations.

What’s the hardest part about starting your own company from scratch?

Cloclo: Making sure everything is legal!

Giovanna: Being your own accountant.

What’s the best part?

Cloclo: Working with my family.

Giovanna: Same — working with my amazing cousins!

What were you surprised by?

Cloclo: How nice and supportive people in the fashion industry are.

Giovanna: Retail markups! They’re usually arbitrarily high, which is why I love working with brands of quality that you can appreciate.

What have you learned?

Cloclo: That even in creative industries the red tape and paperwork is so important so learn that first.

Giovanna: Nothing is more important than personal relationships. It’s a very small world — particularly in fashion.

Advice to anyone who wants to start their own company?

Cloclo: Don’t think about it too much, just do it.

Giovanna: The harder you work, the luckier you get.

Psst! Click through the slideshow above to learn more about each of the CREO consulting brands: Carmelinas shoesMola Sasa, Hunting SeasonPepa Pombo, PiamitaMagnetic MidnightMallarinoMercedes Salazar and Valdez.

Follow Cloclo, Giovanna and CREO Consulting on Instagram; Photographed by Krista Anna Lewis. 

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  • http://www.cherry-mag.com CHERRYMAG

    so interesting, thanks for sharing!

    xx
    http://www.cherry-mag.com

  • http://www.dresscape.com Dresscape

    Great interview. We like their view towards work. Hard work definately brings luck!

    D. ❤
    http://www.dresscape.com

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  • Erika

    I love this! <3

  • Elizabeth Tamkin

    I WANT MERCEDES SALAZAR EARRINGS SO BADLYYYY. beautiful women with a beautiful company

    • Erika Miller

      RIGHTTT!!!? I am seriously lusting over those!

    • Bettina Staartjes

      I’ve seen Mercedes Salazar on Cooperativa Shop!

  • Aggie

    This is amazing and very inspiring.

  • Tess

    Ah to be ridiculously beautiful and ridiculously successful

  • meme

    If you are interested in Latin America fashion, there’s awesome stuff happening south of Colombia. I love Mutma, an accesories brand: https://mutmashop.com/ (Swear I have no relationship with the brand, I just really really love their stuff).

  • Antonio

    Great to know that Latam fashion and culture is taking relevance in the USA. However, just a small clarification …’molas’ which are hand-crafted by the Kuna indigenous community of Colombia and Peru’. Molas are made by the Kuna people living in the Caribbean region of Colombia and more predominantly in San Blas, Panama. I am not sure there are Kuna people in Peru.

    • Amelia Diamond

      This was an error — has been amended to Colombia and Panama!

  • Shweta Shah

    So nice that you are promoting designers worldwide. I am on a pursuit to promote Indian talent which is so underrated.

    http://www.gourmetrunway.com