Sunday 2 March, 2014
LEATHER TOTE BAG: Mario Hernandez (@muymario)
"A truly elegant taste is generally
accompanied with excellency of heart"
- Henry Fielding
Mazacs is truly honored to represent Colombian-based Mario Hernandez, one of the biggest Fashion Designers and Entrepreneurs worldwide. What follows is the tale of a genuinely remarkable experience, an experience we had while traveling in South America.
CHAPTER 1: LOVE AT FIRST SIGHT
Our journey begins on a sunny mid-February morning inside the captivating, beautifully-encapsulated walls of the "Old City" in Cartagena, Colombia.
Built as a Spanish Defense Fort in the early sixteenth century to protect the city from pirates and corsairs alike, "La Ciudad Vieja" is now a bustling labyrinth of music, romance, cafés, outdoor restaurants, and exquisite fashion boutiques.
Among them, in the picturesque Av. San Martín, is Mario Hernandez. It cannot be missed; it would be simply foolish to do so...
CHAPTER 2: THE PURSUIT
It is now 9:57a.m. on a Monday morning in Bogotá, as we find ourselves waiting at the exclusive Centro Comercial Andino. In less than four minutes, we'll be meeting with Ms. Ingry Mariño-Molano, Merchandising & PR Representative at Mario Hernandez. A cocktail of nerves of excitement and expectation run incessantly through our veins as the clock hits 10 and we walk inside.
In true Colombian fashion, Ms. Mariño-Molano, Ingry, is friendly, warm, genuinely welcoming.
Over the course of the day, together, we will visit the Mario Hernandez Workshop in the busy, ever-flowing Industrial Area of the city. There we will not only get a chance to see the magic and experience the effort, expertise, craftsmanship, and passion of creating something truly wonderful, but we will also have the chance to meet the Man himself as well as his lovely family.
But let's not rush ourselves...
CHAPTER 3: THE FIRST DATE
How does one describe a Mario Hernandez store? Facts usually do not tell the whole story, they do not suffice. Sure, numbers impress; like having over 20 stores in 11 cities in Colombia or over 40 worldwide, including The US, Aruba, Mexico, Costa Rica, and Russia.
Essence and beauty however are found between the lines. A place can be 4 walls and a roof. It can also however, be an experience, an adventure to be lived, a journey to be taken.
At Mario Hernandez, everyone is greeted with a smile, every customer is valued; a woman looking for a chic leather bag in the brand's Big or Small Lines, a man thirsting for a trendy wallet, a traveler in search of a sophisticated, comfortable, practical way to carry her/his luggage.
CHAPTER 4: THE WORKSHOP HE BUILT
"...with love Cathy, with love." These are the words of Maria Fernanda Hernandez, daughter of Mario Hernandez and company CEO. "Our bags, our shoes, our clothes: they're made with love."
Walking along the aisles of the Mario Hernandez Workshop, a place with over 300 men and women, 300 leather experts whose craft has been passed on from generation to generation for the more than 35 years of the brand's existence, I sense the love Maria Fernanda is talking about. Every stitch, every cut, every measurement is precise, detailed, of the utmost quality. There is love for Fashion, love for art, love for excellence, love for creativity, love for color, love for learning and teaching, love for teamwork, love for pushing the envelope, love for innovation and functionality. There is love; and it shows in the final product.
CHAPTER 5: THE MAN
How can one describe Mario Hernandez? How can one do justice to The Man? Designer, successful businessman, Brand Creator since 1978, father, friend, hard-working, goal-oriented individual, 2012 Ernst & Young Entrepreneur of the Year, food lover, avid golfer, journalist; the list goes on an on, the accolades innumerable.
For me however, the man I met was honest, easygoing, friendly, warm. The man I met was very much REAL. Behind the hugely successful business that is the Mario Hernandez brand, I found someone kind enough to interrupt his busy schedule to meet, laugh, joke around, and take a few pictures with a Fashion Blogger coming all the way from Tokyo, Japan.
It truly was an honor for us to visit the Mario Hernandez boutique in Cartagena, its Flagship Store at the Centro Comercial Andino, and its Workshop/Factory in Bogotá. But most of all, we're thankful to the wonderful people who made this experience possible and ultimately unforgettable: Mr. Mario Hernandez, his daughter Maria Fernanda, Ms. Ingry Mariño-Molano, as well as all the men and women working at the Factory, those who smiled when we approached them, took pictures with us, and simply made us feel truly welcome.
Upon our departure, Maria Fernanda gave us a hug, and told us it had been a real pleasure to have met us. I beg to differ; the pleasure was all ours.