Artisan Series

Interview · Ave Fénix

Working with Gaby and her family is a privilege.  Not only have we worked with her for production of shoes for Eclectic Array for years, but now she even works with us on location at our San Miguel de Allende store, Etnea Boutique.  Here are her answers from a brief interview we did with her.
1. Tell us about yourself, the history of your brand and where you started.
Hi, my name is Gaby! Our company started in 1984, a good 6 months before I was born. So I could say the smell of leather runs within my veins.
It started with the production of professional baseball shoes with my dad who was a sales agent traveling all over Mexico.
Selling sports goods was having issues with orders being fulfilled and he knew he could drastically improve the quality, and the only way to do it was manufacturing himself.
At some point the traveling increased and a decision was made to manufacture shoes for markets that didn't require him traveling and being at home to share that passion with us.
 
2. Tell us what makes you passionate about your brand and your vision for it
My main motivation comes from my family, realizing how fortunate I've been, makes me try over and over, failure after failure, looking for success. I believe we have a great responsibility towards our employees who don't have the same chances to finding a job if we give up. 
 I believe I speak on behalf of my whole family when I say: keeping and creating better paid jobs in a very competitive and complicated industry is one of our greatest objectives, our vision is focused on developing products with unique value propositions that will lead us there.
 
3. How did you come to Eclectic Array and what do you like about working with us?
A leather supplier introduced us to Barrett (Faryn's brother) he was looking for someone to develop a shoe line for another brand, while Eclectic Array was also struggling with its tennis shoe development. We were not only willing to do the job but we were craving for clients willing to pay a fair price for a hand manufactured product, at the same time we were going bankrupt.
I always say that if we'd had a couple more clients as committed as Eclectic Array to developing its suppliers … we wouldn't have to fire almost 50 people in early 2017. Not only will they value the work behind every product, but they also look for ways to improve along the way, and find ways to preserve ancient artisan technics by incorporating them into more contemporary products like the Viajera Boots.
4. Would you share with us any interesting fact about your design process and product elaboration?

Well whenever you wonder if we can make the same shoe style, using a shorter or higher heel, I'm sorry to tell you we can't. It doesn't work that way!!

That's probably one of the greatest misconceptions about shoe manufacturing, people would be surprised to find out how expensive developing a collection from scratch actually is. We use a sort of plastic foot called "last" which gives a shoe its final shape, and even many styles can be designed from it, the moment you want a different height or toe shape you need to start back from zero. And that’s not even considering shoe design and customized soles.

When it comes to the production of the Viajera Boots and the tennis, we have to be extra careful with the pieces of backstrap loom we receive from Eclectic Array, first we add a lining to protect the piece from tearing apart during the process, and we also make sure there are no color variants between each piece and we have a special way to cut the material as we have little to no room for mistakes. It makes the process more delicate and slow, but worth it once you see the final result.

   

5. What's your inspiration? Is there anything specific or someone that inspires you? 

My parents and my brothers, I've never seen anyone as hardworking and resilient as them. They are my greatest inspiration!

My dad in particular has been a major influence in my life and the reason why I am an entrepreneur.

 

6. Who's your team and what can you share about them?

 I'll begin with my family

My mom has been working non-stop since she was a teenager and she's the kindest person I've met in my life; my dad is a visionary, always dreaming, developing and experimenting; my brother Francisco who's in charge of production is what I'd call a "genius", his ability to solve issues of any nature is mind-blowing and his willingness to help others never ceases to amaze me; finally my brother Gerardo has taught me that without implementation the greatest ideas are just that: IDEAS

 Now our staff:

I'll take Juanito who's in charge of cutting the raw materials for the Viajera Boots, the tennis, and all the other products we have as an example! 

He has known me since I was 6 months old, that's when he first started working for us 37 years ago. Most of our current employees have been at the company for over 10 years, some have left and come back, they're hardworking people.

 

7. Do you have a favorite piece? Tell us about your best sellers or unique designs for EA?

 I really like the mint and light grey tenis, and I'm already in love with the Viajera Boots!

 

8. Please tell us about the staff and inclusion guidelines you have at the company.

Most of our employees are elderly people, over 60 years old; they're specialized on what they do and have been doing it for decades. We also have developed a technic to stamp recycled leather, that, other way would be a pile of trash from the automobile industry, we can stamp and embose any design.

  

 

As you can see, they are not just a shoe manufacturer…they are a family that has become our family.  Together we are aligned in our values and we have so much good we can accomplish together.  It was no coincidence that this family was brought to us at Eclectic Array, I know we were meant to be together in this journey to have purposeful fashion that supports so many artisans, communities and families across Mexico.

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