Oriana Rodriguez, The 100% Mexican Handbags Designer

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One day I was at the airport about to catch a flight, when I ran into a friend who is a blogger, we chit-chatted while we walked towards the boarding gate, and all of a sudden a girl approached and said to my friend: “excuse me for the interruption, but I wanted to ask you where did you buy your purse, it’s so beautiful!”, to which my friend replied: “this purse was designed by a friend of mine, you can buy it online, her name is Oriana Rodriguez”; the girl thanked and said goodbye to us.

Voilá! And that’s how Oriana Rodriguez has earned the recognition of her customers; there is no complex strategy behind the brand, just a great design and high quality that you will not prevent from being stopped on the street to be asked where did you buy your handbag.

The Tapatia designer (the gentilic of the female residents of Guadalajara, Mexico) is descended from a Mexican Architect and a French Fashion Designer; hence Oriana grew up talking about design, architecture and fashion. Since very young she knew she’d study industrial design, and it was interesting finding out that what she desired was to focus on automotive design. She studied in a university in Madrid, and had the opportunity to get her degree by working on a project of the interior design of a car for BMW. When she finished her studies she returned to Mexico, and aware of the limited job opportunities in the automotive design field, one day she thought that handbags were a good balance between industrial design and fashion; it was then when she decided to start a business of handbags design and manufacture in partnership with a friend. After some time, as this alliance did not work as planned, she decided to run her own business independently, and that is how her Oriana Rodriguez label was born.

The designer launched her brand on 2010: “it was a process I never imagined, if someone would have told me about the challenges and how hard this would be, I’m sure I’d never had done it”, she confessed in the interview, and said: “since the beginning I decided my product would be manufactured in leather because I wanted to offer quality. My parents taught me since I was a little girl that anything I do, I must do it right”.

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Oriana wanted to offer a 100% Mexican product, and 100% made in Mexico; even if she did not want to reflect her country’s folklore through the design, she wanted to represent it through the high quality and world-class appearance of her product: “I wanted to show this Made in Mexico product can compete with any product from anywhere in the world, because of its beauty and quality”. Since the beginning, Oriana has worked with artisans and she currently leans on one that she describes as if he was her soul mate, there is an excellent connection and great communication between them: “he opened to me the doors of his workshop and made me work like any other person from his team so I can learn about every single part of the process. Thanks to him I’ve learned about manufacturing and materials; with him I’ve learned there are things that can’t be done, and that not every kind of leather suits every kind of bag”.

An Oriana’s handbag is born after a “storm of ideas”, as she calls it; the inspiration can come from a photo, the Internet, the social media, or the streets. She tries to keep her collections with an average of seven designs, and each of them in three or four different colors. Alba and Anais are the two designs made since the launch of the brand, and they’ve become the brand’s classics.

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Oriana is well aware that nowadays innovation and technology are highly dynamic, and she is certain that to get to the customer, the combination of the physical and online points-of-sale is critical. Today her collections can be found in selected multi-brand boutiques in Mexico and online stores, as well as her own orianarodriguez.com, through which she has gotten to countries like USA, Spain and France. Her designs have been also seen in the Mexican edition of global editorials such as Vogue, Elle, Harper’s Bazaar, InStyle and Grazia

I take care of my customers the way I like to be treated, and thanks to the exigency I put into my work, I’ve maintained my brand for over 5 years competing against international luxury brands. I work very hard, and I consider myself very lucky because I don’t have the team to empower my business the way I want to, I’ve done everything on my own, except for the bags”. She said she is in love with the smell of the leather; her favorite parts of her job is working in the workshop, and see the entire process since the idea on a paper, until the transformation into a purse.

When I asked her which is her favorite purse in the world history, she said: “if I could only have three purses, I’d have the Birkin by Hermés, the 2.55 by Chanel, and all Céline bags” (…ehem ehem, those are more than three, but hey! I don’t blame her; I want the same things she wants). And to the question which celebrity she would like to see wearing one of her purses, she replied Olivia Palermo: “I feel identified with her style, ideas, taste, I would love that!”.

After the undeniable success she has achieved through her work, what’s next for Oriana in the future, as she expects, is to have her own workshop to continue creating more and new things, continue growing, and hopefully one day, have her own boutique: “I feel I’m going slow, but steady”.

Thanks to Petites Mémoires for the beautiful photographies of this interview.

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