19 Jul OROPENDOLA by Carolina Vélez
For Carolina Vélez, travel has always been an opportunity to connect with different cultures. She first began her travels throughout Colombia, but remembers her exchange in Australia as the spark that awakened her passion for the beauty of handcrafted manufacturing, stemming back from her Colombian roots. Growing up in a country with such a focus on handmade and artisan pieces that is connected to many tribal and urban cultures, Velez is especially connected to her handmade craft.
In the last semester of her masters program in Florence, Velez knew she had to travel to look for different craft knowledge, and what better place to do it than home in Colombia? After training her creative and humanistic development as a designer, Velez continued to complement her education with courses in management in administration. Here is where she truly cemented her devotion towards handmade products, specifically artisanal traditions aimed at the luxury market. She came to Polimoda, a private fashion school in Florence, to enhance her specialization. There, she reinforced her conviction to enhance the concept of craftsmanship in Colombia, to add value through design and surpass the truism that artisanal work is simply for souvenir.
All her education and training in handcrafting came into a culmination with her brand, Oropendola, which emerged under the initiative of socially and culturally committed design. It focuses on delicate manufacturing, connection with craft experience and textile experimentation. Vélez soon overcame the initial challenges of creating a brand that focuses on traditional techniques and designs that promote country identified through a creative association she came into. The joint work of their projects was a combined effort of research, dialogue, consultation, and progressive training with various artisans. Soon, Oropendola pieces became commercialized in countries such as Costa Rica and the United States.
Oropendola prides itself on creating empowering pieces that make their wearer feel authentic, expressful, and prominent. That feeling derives from the elaborate handcrafted process, a truly unique quality that impregnates the client with a spirit, strength, and exalted state of mind. Each piece is not just meant to be seen and touched, but to be felt and lived. The driving force of the brand is no doubt, their artisans. They truly bring life to each creation from their beginnings on pencil and paper. With each positive review from a client, they continue to feel empowered to create stories with each piece, and move you to similarly continue creating and exploring different possibilities.
Vélez’s greatest pleasure is being able to transmit her passion for what she does and to continue feeling proud to be Colombian. She visualizes Oropendola’s identity to be similarly proud of being who you are and where you come from. The brand name was born from the warm landscapes of the savannas of Montería, a place where the oropendolas, or black birds with yellow chests, live. The beautiful bird represents universality as it is pronounced the same in both Spanish and English, and migration, as the company seeks to migrate through different artisanal knowledge to stay current. It is a brand that is admirable for their Colombian handcrafting, and one that continues to explore, research, and adapt to new and progressive designs.