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Inspiring Conversations with Carolina ROCHA of Carola

Today we’d like to introduce you to Carolina Rocha.

Carolina, we appreciate you taking the time to share your story with us today. Where does your story begin?
Since I was very small, I always felt attracted to beautiful things and always cared a lot about clothes. I come from a family where everyone knows how to hand-knit, so I have always liked handmade things. I love the fact of knowing that something is unique because something made with the hands can never be made exactly the same again. I grew up in Bogota, Colombia, I think that is why I appreciate craftsmanship and artisan’s work. Right after I graduated from high school, I decided to continue my studies in London, where I studied Business Administration. Coming from a city like Bogota to a Cosmopolitan big city like London, where you can be whatever you want helped me to realize a lot about myself.

I felt happy, free (exactly like I feel every time I do showjumping) and thanks to the city of London I discovered my passion for fashion due to the fact that in this city people can express freely through clothes. That is when I decided to do a master’s degree in management of luxury goods and moved to Milan. The capital of fashion such a beautiful city where the very first idea of creating my own brand started. It surprised me how much people in Italy valued the “made in Italy” how proud they were and still are about those three words. Thanks to that I started thinking about the “handmade in Colombia” how I wanted people in my country to value it more. When I returned to Colombia, I started putting the puzzle together. I knew right from the start that I wanted to create a sustainable brand with extremely good quality and unique designs. My mother, Maria Rocha, a civil engineer with an amazing artistic talent, supported me right from the beginning and she actually came up with the idea that the brand SHOULD empower Women, especially single mothers.

Since in Colombia, 41% of the mother are abandoned by their partners and they have to support their children on their own. That’s why at Carola, we only hire single mother artisans, we feel like being a female founded company, we have the obligation and desire to empower and give more opportunity to women. We also decided to highlight and collaborate with the Jiw and Nukad indigenous tribes from the Colombian Amazon. I founded the Company end of march 2020 in mid pandemic and since then, Carola has grown so much that it is even hard to believe it sometimes. Back in August, we got our first article at Vogue Magazine Mexico and Latin-America and since then, we have had so much exposure worldwide from Vanity Fair to Elle Italia and many other incredible magazines. We are even collaborating with WE GAVE WHAT and Danielle Bernstein (known as WEWOREWHAT) in a Christmas pop up at Showfields in New York city.

Alright, so let’s dig a little deeper into the story – has it been an easy path overall and if not, what were the challenges you’ve had to overcome?
I cannot complain to be honest. Creating Carola and seeing it grown has been pretty amazing. We haven’t had many struggles aside from the fact that since we launched the website in July 2020 and the pandemic was spreading fast, Colombia was on full lockdown and the airport was closed. It was hard to get all the material and deliver it right on time. But we adapted we created a pre-order list and extended the delivery time.

We’ve been impressed with Carola, but for folks who might not be as familiar, what can you share with them about what you do and what sets you apart from others?
We are proud of being a 100% Colombian sustainable handbag brand. Our design, materials and work are fully inspired by the beautiful nature of our motherland. Wearing a Carola bag is about making the dreams of many people come true, this is why all our bags are unique. Our bags are knitted by artisan single mothers and indigenous tribes from the Colombian Amazonia. We want to give back to our communities their dignity and give them a voice to make our world a better place. We choose every material carefully, we prioritize natural organic and recycled materials.

Certificated Organic silk: We run our production process respecting our environment. The whole process, from the planting of mulberry, cultivation of warms and the elaboration of the threads, is realized by 200 families victims of the Colombian armed conflict who in this initiative have found harmonious stability and peace, allowing them to leave their difficult past behind. Cumare palm tree: This special material comes directly from the Amazon and Llanos Orientales, the fiber used to sew is directly elaborated by the Jiw y Nukak indigenous tribes. Using the methods of their ancestors, they are able to weave the tapes one by one, creating a soft and delicate cord used for the manufacturing of our bags.

Reused Propylene we use natural dyes such as those of coffee seeds, walnut bark, numerous leaves, tree barks, flowers, natural fruits. Knitting a The whole process of hand-knitting a Carola bag could take up to 28 days. We are committed to creating unique, ethical and sustainable handbags without costing the earth. We believe that in today’s world, style and sustainability should go together. Through the production of our 100% ecological bags, at Carola, we strive to empower Colombia’s indigenous communities, single mothers as well as other communities affected by the armed conflict.

Can you tell us more about what you were like growing up?
As a child, I was always pretty creative, athletic and social. I started piano lessons back when I was six years old. I started horseback riding when I was nine and started competing in showjumping when I was 11. I was always obsessed with clothes since I can remember I never dressed like the rest of the girls I would wear very different statement pieces. I was always attracted to beautiful things.

Pricing:

  • IRIS $518 Mini Iris: $403
  • REINS: $621
  • PROVIDENCIA: $218
  • CUMARE: $218

Contact Info:

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