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Life & Work with Nicole Encinosa

Hi Nicole, we’re thrilled to have a chance to learn your story today. So, before we get into specifics, maybe you can briefly walk us through how you got to where you are today?
In hindsight, I’ve always had a creative side. As a young girl, I remember wanting to be a cartoonist, sewing small articles of clothing from scrap fabric around the house and always being interested in learning how to make things. However, I never thought of going into a creative career. Instead, because I enjoyed working with numbers and was interested in business, I pursued a path in accounting and management. After living in New York for about a year and a half in my early 20’s and walking by the Conde Nast building every day on my way to work, I finally realized I wanted to be part of the fashion and design world. After moving back to Miami from New York, I was working full time in an accounting position but wanted to immediately begin my journey exploring and transitioning into my new career path.

First step, I started designing women’s wear apparel pieces and worked with a tailor to create samples. At the same time, I worked with a graphic designer to create a logo and website. Shortly after, I moved to Los Angeles and began formal training in fashion design at the Art Institute of California. After graduating, I worked full time at a clothing label manufacturer. In 2011, I moved to Hong Kong where I designed handbags and worked as a freelance technical designer for a fashion designer providing technical drawings for her swimwear line and worked closely with local factories. After about a year in Hong Kong, I moved to Sydney where I lived for the next eight years. While in Australia, I worked as a Design Assistant for a commercial textile company, as well as launched my own business designing and handmaking leather handbags and accessories, Cabrera.

Can you talk to us a bit about the challenges and lessons you’ve learned along the way. Looking back would you say it’s been easy or smooth in retrospect?
I would break down the struggles in two separate categories, business and design. From an entrepreneurial and business perspective, figuring out where to begin, pricing your own products, marketing your own products and selling your own products were all difficult and areas I had to figure out on my own. Designing and making the bags was very exciting and motivating. However, when creating new designs and learning a new craft from scratch, there is no manual. Therefore, it took a while to get started and I had to research and practice a great amount. Because it was important for me to use the best quality materials possible, I found sourcing the leather and hardware to be especially challenging.

Alright, so let’s switch gears a bit and talk business. What should we know about your work?
Cabrera is a brand of 100% handmade leather handbags and accessories. The name Cabrera is my mother’s maiden name and I decided to use it as my brand because my grandfather was a successful tailor of men’s and boy’s suits, as well as a business owner of a textile store in Cuba in the 40’s and 50’s. Therefore, I wanted to carry on his name with my designs. Some of the things I enjoy most about Cabrera is working with my hands, designing and thinking creatively, making and seeing the final product and seeing someone else appreciating my designs.

I am extremely excited about the outlook of my business because I am currently working with new material and creating new styles. I have also been collaborating with different artists who will be featuring their art on the bags, whether by painting, drawing or printing. My latest collaboration has been with my friend and local artist, Robin Anezin. He goes by the name Robin Wood Arts and creates beautiful, unique paintings. I have been lucky enough to work with him and will be presenting our collaborated designs soon, so watch this space for some one-of-a-kind products.

Contact Info:

Image Credits
Lee Warren

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