DITP Think Thailand talks with Veronica Race, Creative Director of Borboleta Bag, who started her business out of passion for fashion and travel.
Could you tell us the story behind Borboleta?
Borboleta started from my love of fashion and travels. It was difficult to find handbags when I travel, because I need practical bags that have a large variety of functions, which were hard to find in the market. I have always loved to create things so I started experimenting with making my own bags by designing lightweight handbags with lots of functions, as well as unique designs. That developed into my decision to go back to fashion school and then to acquire a Master’s Degree in Fashion Brand Management in Italy. After I completed the programs, I had more extensive knowledge of how to design and market bags. I began by making my own bags that I used and loved during my travels, and strangers began to ask where I bought the bags and if they could buy the same style. After numerous requests, I decided to start my own brand ‘Borboleta’, which means butterfly in Portuguese, since the butterfly represents women who love to travel, have a free spirit and a love for things of beauty. So the word “Borboleta” captures the idea behind our brand and our customers. I create bags with inputs from our customers and adjust the product to meet their needs as much as possible. This year happily marks the seventh year that Borboleta has been in business.
What makes your products special?
The key elements of our brand are functionality, design and lightweightness. We design our bags to make our customers lives easier, more practical and more organized. Another key advantage is that we handpick a cruelty-free and high quality material which is artificial leather: an innovation from Japan. It’s durable, waterproof, and 30% lighter than genuine leather, and, most importantly, looks like leather. Our products appeal to fashion conscious groups who originally prefer leather and also to customers who are only looking for brands that do not harm animals or the environment. We are PETA-Approved vegan.
Who are your target customers?
The proportion of international to domestic markets is 50-50. We have exported to more than 50 countries, including Australia, Singapore, Malaysia, France, Italy, Finland, with the United States being our largest market. Most customers say they like the functionality and design. Social media platforms and collaborations with international bloggers have helped us expand our markets. It can be tricky to navigate the digital world, so as a brand we need to be very clear who our customers are first before diving in. We encourage other brands to learn these tools to survive and thrive in the digital age.
How do you view the Thai fashion design industry?
Today customers desire uniqueness, truth and identity. Business people should take branding and revenue generation as the two main focuses, not just sales. It’s very important to portray each brand’s uniqueness through stories and to highlight why each brand is different. Moreover, around the world, Thailand has a reputation for excellent customer service. If we put this into our brand, it increases the brand value. For example, when we send Borboleta bags overseas, we send along small handpicked Thai products, such as soap, fragrances or Thai cosmetics, as surprise gifts for customers. This is to introduce them to other amazing Thai brands, and to deliver beyond-expectation customer service.
What is the future for Borboleta?
We would like to continue developing new unique bags for women with on-the-go lifestyle. We also plan to expand our production facility to help Thai craftsmen to have fair and sustainable working lives. With every purchase, we donate to educational programs for underprivileged students in remote areas of Thailand. We are committed to growth since we want to improve thevquality of life for our customers, our team and underprivileged young students in Thailand.
Have you won any awards?
Our brand is one of five finalists for the Most Socially Responsible Brand of the Handbag Designer Awards in the United States, which is like the Oscars in the accessory industry. We are very grateful to represent Thailand on this stage. In Thailand, we joined many of DITP’s projects and exhibited in Japan and Australia. We appreciate the support from DITP that helps create opportunities in various business channels. It helped us with establishing new networks and we were also able to share with and receive advice from other business professionals as well.
Words by Natthinee Ratanaprasidhi