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Q&A with Lorena Gaitan of Elbeto Jewelry

I have always been firm with my stance to support domestic and NYC businesses. This time, I go out of my comfort zone to endorse a small business based outside the states, in Colombia. Elbeto Jewelry was founded by marketing pro Lorena Gaitan. Her jewelry line is dedicated to creating credible pieces using sustainable materials such as bull’s horn, seeds and tree bark. Since the launch of the eco-friendly jewelry line, the company has caught the attention of local media and was even featured in Elle Magazine. Though the company is not based in the U.S., Lorena and designers for Elbeto Jewelry finds inspiration in NYC. In addition, the line’s most recent collection was designed and created in Upstate New York. I recently had a chat with the Earth-loving entrepreneur.

When you launched your company Elbeto in 2004, was it a priority to base it around sustainable jewelry? If so, why was it important that you do this? When I launched Elbeto my purpose was to promote growth and local development of emerging designers in my country of origin, Colombia. A majority of my first affiliated jewelers were full time artisans, silversmiths and craftsmen who carried a long tradition of native jewelry making from generation to generation.I just imagined how their work would look at Manhattan stores window cases. I was self confidence about my skills and training to walk in and show what I had to offer. I had a long marketing training on consumer products and had pursued a market research myself where I found this niche for organic and sustainable glamorous jewelry.

You have have in the jewelry industry for quite some time now, what changes have you observed within the 8 years of doing business? There is an increased interest for organic and sustainable pieces, not only because of their nature and concept itself, also because of its lower price point. As final customer budget had lowered, wholesale price point had dropped as well. Higher end pieces don’t sell as much as before, sales had focused on lower end pieces with lower price point. Finally, even though final customers have less money to shop, they are still looking for good design at the price they can afford and that’s the gap online curate sites are taking beside getting the biggest market share at an unbelievable speed.

Why do you think people are drawn to sustainable jewelry? People have interest in conservation of natural resources in many areas of their lives. We want to “spread the voice” of organic materials applied to stunning pieces of jewelry that reflects this new tendency for care and love for our planet sharing this new friendly environmental point of view.

What materials are used in your jewelries? Elbeto has a diverse line of products such as the Tagua line, which is made from a palm tree seed that grows in the Amazon jungle and are collected just when they fallen from the tree. There is the bull’s horn jewelry which is made with horn coming as a waste material from meat processing plants. No animal is ever sacrificed for our purpose and we use these horns as a natural resource to create jewelry. There is the filigree jewelry, which is a very ancient technique that arrived from Spain and Italy to Colombia and it’s made with very delicate sterling threats of different thickness interweaving in endless circles. There is the canaflecha bracelets, made with this type of palm that grows without fertilizers and it’s then dyed at the sun. Artisans make exclusive contemporary designs for Elbeto. Our latest line is the rough stones line designed and made in Upstate New York with rocks from the earth itself, natural untreated emeralds, pyrites and amethysts that highlight the most exotic of Colombian rough stones. Finally there is the designer’s line, which our company initially started with, this is the jewelry line designed and made by the design award winners in Colombia, which are rep by Elbeto in America.

What are your best sellers? We have different trends and each satisfy different kind of people. It changes with the seasons, although our Tagua and Bull’s horn lines are always there. Rough stones had a great success since it was launched. At Elbeto we are focus on providing the market with organic, natural and elegant sustainability.

Can you tell us which countries you ship to? Elbeto is mostly in the USA. We had some sales in the EU countries and we are now in the path to sell to the GCC  countries.

What do you wish Elbeto to accomplish? Our primary goal is been to promote Colombian artisans and designers artwork overseas. Through Elbeto fresh and trendy designs popping up I’ve been able to be the face of Colombian artisans and designers that usually are unable to reach the global marketplace and there is a lot of work to do in this sense. Our ultimate goal is growing enough to provide all year around decent orders for our artisans, jewelers and designers. Elbeto is and will be hundred percent committed with promoting design oriented artisans work.

How has been the feedback like regarding your line? From the very beginning people were excited about materials, designs and prices. It is true that today’s world requires innovation and creativity but being environmentally conscious and designing beautiful jewelry that you can wear at any occasion at affordable prices has been a total success.

Tell us about your designers. How is your selection process regarding which designers will be feature in Elbeto? Besides our design award winner designers and artisans, I like working with career people out of the work market for different reasons who have the talent, discipline and passion this job requires. After sharing the same vision as Elbeto has regarding quality control, environmental and marketing responsibility in products and process we pick the designs from their line. It is a chain that requires high talented people and organized logistic to complete the process of placing a perfect product at the right price on time at the perfect location.

Any words of wisdom for those planning to own a business and become a jewelry designer? Building a business is marketing your product in the right way, knowing what people want and is willing to pay, taking care of details of the whole process through production to the final consumer is required at 100%. There are always situations coming up in the way and you must know that getting over them will requires a lot of love for what you do, commitment, faith and self confidence. Besides the earthbound cash flow always in need as building a business that is also into art and design.

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