Our next Inspiring Woman is Cristina Gomez, a young, stylish woman in her early 30’s who recently started her own brand of jewelries, bags and accessories design, called House of Serafina.
I first met Cristina back in November 2012 when I was chosen to be on the cover of the Entertaining Issue of Lifestyle Asia. She was then the social editor of the magazine. Since that pictorial proved to be quite nerve-wracking for a newbie like me, she did her best to make me feel at ease and relaxed. She struck me as someone who is cool, calm and composed. Because of her friendly demeanor and the many things we have in common, we have remained friends since then.
Now she is out to conquer the accessories design world with her own brand.
Read about her inspiring story…
Tell us a little bit more about Cristina Gomez.
I used to work for Stores Specialists Inc. before I pursued my masters in fashion brand management in Instituto Marangoni in Milan. I came back in 2011 and was offered a position as Social Editor of Lifestyle Asia Magazine. The fashion and media industries are both very interesting and challenging arenas and the experience I gained from them helped equip myself for the next exciting chapter in my life – House of Serafina.
What is House of Serafina all about? What made you start the brand?
House of Serafina designs statement jewelry, bags and accessories that celebrate the rising success of independent women across Asia. Collections offer a modern aesthetic coupled with unparalleled craftsmanship made to be shared across generations.
House of Serafina was born from the love of heirloom jewelry. My Grandma Mary had a beautiful 1960s ring she passed on to my mother. I was so fascinated by its detail and intricacy brought about by the profound workmanship exhibited in the piece. I then thought why not bring back that same level and quality of jewelry pieces and modernize it in a way that the 21st century woman can wear it.
Can you tell us a little bit more about what the creative process is like behind each and every piece in the House of Serafina?
I take a lot of inspiration from the antique pieces handed down by my grandmother to my mother. From Spanish lace, French ornaments, to Turkish accessories, all of these have their own charm that never fail to enlighten my curiosity. Taking a cue from them, I pursue designs with the modern woman in mind; adapting the styles to our clients’ fast-paced lives.
From there, I source materials around the country and abroad. It is quite a challenging task given the myriad of options available but I usually narrow it down not only to what is aesthetically a match to the design, but more importantly, a commitment to materials of the best quality.
House of Serafina has a dedicated team of partners and craftsmen both locally and abroad who make the pieces for us, all of which are done by hand.
Among the many pieces that you carry, which is your personal favorite and why?
My personal favorite is the brand’s key piece, the Cinderella Bag. The classic Disney film is my favorite and I always dreamt of having jewelry reminiscent of anything she had. So you can imagine how excited I was to create Cinderella’s sphere-like carriage out of brass, gold and Russian crystals. Everything is handmade and hand-carved.
Who is the typical customer of House of Serafina?
House of Serafina designs for savvy Asian women in their 20s-40s looking for unique designs and solid craftsmanship. Pieces are guaranteed for life and are made to be handed down from one generation to another.
There are quite a number of local jewelry and accessory boutiques (both online and retail stores) out there now. What do you think differentiates House of Serafina from the rest?
We’re different in three key ways. One is our design approach – we’re inspired by the rise of women in the workforce and cater to their changing needs. Two, we’re a multi-disciplined team with a balanced background in design, marketing and scaling start-ups. Lastly, we have a strong social component to our mission to empower women across Southeast Asia to reach their dreams through entrepreneurship. More to come on this program in early 2014.
Being one of the newest in a highly competitive retail industry, what are the usual challenges you are facing now and how do you handle them?
One of the challenges facing the brand is keeping up with a growing demand for the pieces while maintaining the same level of quality. Each and every single crystal and stone is inspected before they go into production. Given that House of Serafina is a new brand, everything is a learning process.
Being one of our Inspiring Women, can you tell us, where do you get your inspiration or better yet, what inspires you?
What inspires me is growing House of Serafina into a brand that will help women across Asia through its entrepreneurship program.
Since a lot of women are becoming entrepreneurs nowadays, can you share some tips on how to own your business and run it effectively?
Women have a very strong inclination towards what others need and want. It is important to listen carefully and to trust one’s instincts. Expect that there will be bumps along the way, but always make sure to take it in stride. Learn and keep moving forward.
How do you balance your time between your business and your own personal life given a very busy schedule? Any time management tips?
All I can say is thank God for smart phones! Everything I do is listed, scheduled and categorized — I’m constantly connected to every facet of the business. While this is a necessary evil when running a start-up, once in a while, you do need to go “screen-free” and simply unplug.
Being partners in this business with your brother, Arlu (who is a very good photographer too) and Anthony, how do you draw the line between your personal relationship with them and as business associates?
I am very blessed to be working with two of my favorite people – my brother Arlu and his partner, Anthony Cospito. Before being business partners, we are family first. We all very much know how to balance each other out and support each other. Meetings are also never a bore when we have sporadic moments of fun!
On a lighter note, I know you are single and not a mummy yet 🙂 but I have always believed that there’s a “spoiled mummy” in each of us… What do you think makes Cristina Gomez a Spoiled Mummy? 🙂
I am a Spoiled Mummy too because I enjoy dining out. I also love catching the latest plays! But more importantly, I enjoy sharing them with my loved ones. 🙂
Visit House of Serafina at http://houseofserafina.com