Entrepreneurship has consolidated Ceará (a state in northeastern Brazil. It has a mountainous interior and an Atlantic coastline lined with dramatic red cliffs.)brands that have gained recognition and visibility in the fashion industry through the regional identity that their products carry. In a few years, these companies were able to expand the commercialization of articles and established themselves as a reference in Brazil and abroad. Brands Água de Coco, Espedito Seleiro and Catarina Mina have gained space among international competitors and accelerated their progress.
Most brands started with a plain manufacturing and scarce financial resources. This is Água de Coco case, which started its business venture with homemade pieces some 35 years ago. The products were sold door to door and today the brand still carry this attribute as a brand differential. “We always make collections inspired by Ceará with handwork made by lace makers from Ceará communities. It's something that symbolizes our brand,” explains Renato Thomaz, Água de Coco marketing director.
Also, according to Mr. Thomaz, the company has recorded rapid growth in annual revenues, with specific focuses to boost sales. “We are keeping up with retail strategies, customer relationships and marketing efforts to further boost the brand. We are growing nicely despite of financial market difficulties”, he ponders.
Regarding the difficulties experienced along the trajectory of the brand, Mr. Thomaz points out that the commercialization of products in other Brazilian states was a delicate moment. “We had some obstacles when we first took our brand out of Fortaleza (the state capital of Ceará). One of the first cities we targeted was Rio de Janeiro, a city that is so beachy and well developed. It was difficult for a brand from Ceará to get accepted there and stand out. But we were able to excel because of the differential and quality of the products,” says Mr. Thomaz.
Currently, the company maintains its domestic manufacturing in Ceará, but it trades to all states of Brazil and exports to 17 countries. “We try to attend fashion shows and trade shows to get brand visibility. In addition, we also do advertising campaigns. All the marketing strategies we carried out, including visibility in the digital world, contributed to the consolidation of the brand”, Mr. Thomaz observes.
Working for the past four years in the fashion market as a stablished brand, brand Catarina Mina already sells handbags to North America, Asia and Europe. Even with a difficult economic performance in 2018, this company from Ceará was able to maintain stable growth if compared to 2017. Today, the brand's goal is to expand the network of countries that buy handbags and handcrafted products, through innovative proposals in its business model.
“Our brand visibility is due to our innovative proposal through the project “A Sincere Conversation”, which has already won several awards. We are committed to the issue of transparency in our products. We invite consumers to know what is behind the manufacturing of the products and all our bags are signed by the craftsman who made it. These are suggestions that we make so people may rethink the industry standards”, explains Celina Hissa, Catarina Mina founder and director.
Regarding the brand’s expansion in the international market, Mrs. Hissa says that the brand exports to several countries. “We already sell to 17 countries. We started the internationalization process in late 2017 and had a very good response. Now our challenge is to establish long-lasting networks with these markets that we have already opened to business deals. We want to attend several international trade shows to strengthen our expansion, making it permanent.”
About the initial difficulties of brand consolidation in Brazil, the director says that one of the main obstacles was taking the brand out of the Southeast market. “Consolidating itself as a national brand outside the Rio de Janeiro-São Paulo axis and without any major financial investments was one of the great challenges for the brand. We have a very strong performance in handmade products and a differentiated consumer appreciation for this kind of regional work, which made us achieve national relevance by having innovative proposals in this area," she says.
To support the company's regionality core, Mrs. Hissa still maintains manufacturing of its products in Ceará, allocated in various areas of the state. “Our headquarters are in Fortaleza and we work with teams in Itaitinga, Sobral, Aracatiaçu, Icaraizinho de Amontada, Aracati, and all our manufacturing is based in Ceará. We want to strengthen teams of artisans in Ceará and take advantage of our location in Fortaleza to work with those nearby, looking into our state to see what can what kind of handcrafts can be done here,” she says.
According to the Catarina Mina director, this attribute of the company helps foreigners to notice the brand identity. “Even those who do not know the history of our brand can feel, when looking at the product, the dedication of all people involved in this process. We have a sense of how people relate to our product,” says Mrs. Hissa.