Arturo Calle

Founder & President, Arturo Calle

The advantages of Arturo Calle versus international companies is that it already has a presence; we no longer have 100-150sqm premises, but 1,500-2,000sqm, or larger. This makes our products more varied and widely offered. Another important factor is being up to date on the latest sector trends, not to mention the fact that our products often cost half or less than half of their international equivalent. In addition, it is important to have a nationwide presence, which international companies don't have the capacity to do. One only sees international brands with a strong presence in larger cities such as Bogotá, Medellín, Cali, and Barranquilla. Beyond physical factors, it is also important to have good customer service so people associate the brand with good people. A few international brands like Falabella and Zara have been successful due to their size and variety, but venturing into Colombia isn't easy. What these populations need is quality and design at extremely low prices, something that international companies cannot offer.

Carlos Eduardo Botero HOYOS

President, Inexmoda

Textiles and fashion should bring more exports to the country and play a bigger role in diversifying its economy and exports. If we go back to 2008-2009, we used to export USD2 billion to the world. Half of this went to Venezuela, while an important percentage went to the US and the rest of the world. When Venezuela went down, it was difficult to export because we were expensive in Venezuela, our peso was strong due to oil, and our internal market was growing. Hence, what happened is that most merchandise that used to go to Venezuela moved and stayed within Colombia. The internal market has been growing 8-10% every year in the last five years but exports have not. In 2016, our exports, excluding to Venezuela, came to around USD750,000, below our figures in 2008 and 2009. First, we need to focus on customers in the US. Second, we need to explore more aggressively in Canada, Europe, and Mexico.

Mario Hernández Zambrano

President & Founder, Mario Hernández

As the country becomes more open and more international products come in, the company needs to compete with the other brands that enter the country. That is why we are producing and trying to bring a new level of quality, as well as the manufacturing and know-how that we have, for leather and the artisans that are working with us. Having all of our manufacturing locally allows us to have greater control over the quality. We are also creating many jobs within the country. Before we start growing outside of the country we have to be very strong here in this growing market. We have been increasing the number of stores we have here in Colombia. We are increasing our options here in Colombia and settling in more to promote our brand.