Nay & Jony: Santé Cutarras
Meet Nay and Jony from Santé Cutarras. These two friends created Santé, a shoe brand with roots in Panama's folklore.
Nay and I met several years ago when we both worked as brand managers for a food and beverage distribution company in Panama. Not only is she charismatic and fun to work with, but her work discipline is to be admired. Don't be fooled by her petite frame and upbeat personality, this girl is a TITAN! I have never met a person so dedicated to her work and country as she is.
As for Jony, he is a jack of all trades. Incredibly creative and talented in all his crafts. From hair and makeup artist turned shoe designer, his creations are beautiful regardless of the canvas or medium he chooses.
Where are you from and where is Santé based out of?
Nay: Until my 8th birthday, I lived in Sabana Grande located in Los Santos province. It is a beautiful small town where my dad, grandmother, and a couple of uncles still live. Later on, I moved to Las Tablas and after college I decide to move to Panama City which is where we are currently based out of.
Jony: I’m from Las Tablas and currently living in Panama City.
Tell us about Santé
Jony: Santé strives to extol our Panamanian customs and traditions. It carries as an emblem the pride of being Panamanian.
Nay: Santé is the brand that defines my DNA. After 3 years, I consider it the perfect analogy for my identity.
Why did you launch Santé?
Nay: At 18 I decided I wanted to become an entrepreneur. I didn’t know how long it would take, what it would be or how much it would cost me but ever since then I started working with an idea for creating a business. Finally everything conspired at that specific moment for my long awaited dream to come true.
Jony: When Nay approached me with her idea, I couldn't resist my natural urge to create. I immediately started to research how to improve the aesthetics and ergonomics of the traditional Panamanian “cutarra”. From there Santé becomes a reality, as the dream of two young adults from Panama’s rural areas.
What was your background before Santé
Nay: I studied advertising, marketing and sales in college, and have been working on marketing departments for distribution companies and retailers since 19 years old. During my professional career I’ve had the pleasure of managing around 50 global brands. This has taught me a lot on how to make Santé follow the same steps.
Jony: I believe my professional growth is due to my dedication and certain empirical gifts nature has given me. My main profession is makeup and hair artist, which has given me the possibility to play many roles for several international beauty brands. Today, I dedicate myself fully to the design and manufacturing of Santé products.
What inspires your creations and what does your process look like?
Nay: Inspiration spawns out of the will to evolve, improve, and innovate the design of Panama’s folkloric footwear, “la cutarra”. Mainly by way of colors and by launching several collections. The new products go through a process of back and forth with my partner, which today is the artisan behind our brand. Amongst each other we discuss all topics including leathers, colors, soles, collection names, etc.
Jony: As a creative child by nature, it is really easy for me to visualize the product I want to create and then make it a reality without sketching it beforehand. I much rather design with and test the different materials as the idea pops in my head. Once I have a clear idea for a collection though, I create a mood board to land all details. It is a constant process, going back to zero and starting over, until a beautiful handcrafted piece is reached. Once I have a prototype made, Nay and I talk about any needed improvements. There’s always room for improvement.
When was Santé born and how long after was your first sale?
Nay: The idea was born at a business incubator at the beginning of 2013. Afterwards, between July and August of that same year, my friend and now partner, Jony and I made our first Santé Cutarras as a prototype. September rolled around and we received our first order / sale.
Jony: From the time where Nay tells me about the business idea to when the prototype was made, it took about 3 months. Then in September, as Nay said, we were able to start taking orders from friends and family. I truly believe starting this way is best, you can keep working on details and improving the final product later on.
What advice do you give to other entrepreneurs or those who wish to start their own business?
Nay: Never stop persevering. Find your pillars in life and start accomplishing them through your business. Dream big first, then decide how and when to start fulfilling that dream.
Jony: Starting a business is not easy, at all. You need lots of patience, learning, dedication, and above all the will to keep going ahead with your dream or idea. To go far and have a established brand, you need short term doable goals which will allow you to easily correct any setbacks.
Every business has high and low points, what keeps you going during the low points?
Nay: During tough times what helps me to keep going is to “do”, it brings me more stress “not doing”. Knowing that I’m doing something to keep the brand “moving” during tough times. It helps me knowing that I need to be patient, that everything will fall into place if we work hard. It helps me to focus on the belief that one day my big dream will come true if I devote respect, love and dedication to my craft.
Jony: Yoga and meditation have helped me keep focused. Connecting your body, mind and soul will bring self confidence during tough times. The best is to keep an upbeat attitude and patience to overcome adversities.
Which Santé product is your #musthave?
Nay: A gold or silver cutarras and a pair from our #ArrozConMango collection.
Jony: Definitely a pair from the #ArrozConMango collection and another pair from our newly launched #DiversityAll collection
Where can we find you?
And finally, what's your favourite NATIVO product and why? ;)
Jony: OMG I love NATIVO! I wish I had every product but I’m happy with at least a trial size bottle of the ELIXIR with me at all times.
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This is a new blog series where I'll feature amazing inspiring #tribunativo entrepreneurs from Panama and the world in the hopes to inspire you to take the leap and follow your dreams like I did! For more inspiration, join the tribe @nativoskincare