The cutarra - a male synonym of Panamanian folklore - was the source of inspiration for Santeños Nayleen Quintero and Jony Cedeño, who created the brand San7é (Santé) Cutarras.
When thinking about entrepreneurship, two words come to mind: courage and determination, two qualities that are needed to undertake. That is what these and many other Panamanians who work for their passion are doing.
When we think beyond an idea, and put it into action, we are undertaking a challenge, a challenge. It is not easy or simple, but it is the path that those who put their ideas into action and with hard work begin to see the fruits of their passion have chosen.
En Exclusiva learned the story behind the fabulous ventures of authentically Panamanian brands that were born from the minds of young visionary Panamanians eager to contribute to the economy with their talent and dedication. None of these entrepreneurs studied to do what they do today, what they consider their passion. However, the experience of obtaining a degree helped and motivated them to pursue their dreams. We tell them their stories.
Rescuing the cutarra
The cutarra, a male synonym of Panamanian folklore and the effort of the peasant, has been a source of inspiration for Nayleen Quintero and Jony Cedeño - both 27 years old, raised in Los Santos - for the creation of the brand San7é (Santé) Cutarras with which seek to rescue this national symbol through a modern and more comfortable approach to traditional folk footwear.
Once they graduated from high school in the interior, they both moved on their own to the capital to study at university and pursue their dreams. They had attended high school together and were the same age, but they never imagined what destiny had in store for them.
After being part of the City of Knowledge Business Accelerator project for six months, where Nayleen carried out a study to open her own business, a music house in Las Tablas, the idea of rescuing the cutarra was born. The musical project was never carried out, but as a result of this study and analysis with other entrepreneurs, the idea of developing a single aspect of their general idea was born: saving the skin.
“My father, as a violinist and composer, instilled in me a love for native things from a young age. Las cutarras is the banner of the values for which I was raised, and at that moment everything made sense,” says Quintero, who proposed the idea to several friends until he reached the right person, his childhood friend Jony, who has been your ally in this adventure.
What made you put your idea into practice?
When we knew the idea was good, we started researching how we would carry it out. The native leather is very uncomfortable, it is unfinished leather. Both our friends and we had skins because we simply loved them and didn't care if they hurt us, but the idea was to style them, look for leather that was comfortable, in bright colors.
We found the leather we needed. We already had the paintings brought from the United States. We made a prototype of the cutarras with the artisans – in Los Santos and Chitré –, we used them for a month and we saw the interest of many people in wearing them too. This motivated us and we thought of a name that had meaning. We designed the logo, created the Instagram account @San7cutarras and did a launch campaign that helped us make our first sales. This is how we started with orders on September 15, 2014.
What obstacles did they encounter along the way?
Labor is a challenge. Everything is handmade by artisans. People have to wait 30 days once they place the order to be able to have their cuts. We delivered the clothes made “to measure” for the person and even then some did not fit well. So we set the goal of acquiring a machine in Colombia. We carried out a campaign on the digital platform “Costéame”, where there were people who believed in the project and donated to us in exchange for rewards, so that we could raise the capital to help us buy the machine (which has a value of 15 thousand dollars ) to cut the last, strips and standardize the size of the insole. We managed to raise $6,655 from 90 funders who joined our cause, and we are very grateful.
How do you see the future of San7é Cutarras and its legacy?
Part of the rescue that we would like to achieve is that the cutarras continue to be made by our artisans; that there be a legacy from them to those young people interested in working in the leatherette manufacturing industry, which is ultimately what we want to promote and inject. Likewise, we are protecting the concept of what a cutarra is and its meaning, to prevent imitation from harming the clothing art market.
Our goal is to continue contributing to the culture of crafts in Panama and to keep folklore alive. We were invited by the MICI to be part of the International Crafts Fair in New York, in August, which has us very motivated.