Launching his luxury leather firm in 2007, Steve Mono is one of Spain’s most respected artisans.
Based in Madrid’s Malasaña district, his sophisticated collection of bags, wallets, and portfolios are created in the Andalucian town of Ubrique and in the Basque Country – famous for its long association with leather production – and have amassed a global customer list, flying the flag for “Made in Spain”.
This is particulary relevant at a time when the nation’s status in the design world is soaring. “Previously, the Made in Italy or France tag had greater value,” says Mono. “But there’s been a big change and a lot of the brands that left Spain to produce in cheaper countries overseas are all returning due to the value that is added by saying you’re from Spain.”
Yet despite the pride taken in the provenance of his products, Steve Mono’s domestic sales are relatively small, accounting for just five per cent of the brand’s total. Instead, his global client list sees great weight in the Asian and European markets, which he attributes to a presence at international trade fairs as well as trends in menswear. “At the beginning I was making bags for men and when I started it was in the Japanese, American and English markets where men actually wore these bags,” he says. “So the bulk of the business we did was outside of Spain – but the market is now changing.”
Unusually, Steve Mono doesn’t have a website for online sales, claiming he’s still looking for the “right formula” to launch one, meaning it’s through wholesale connections, visitors to the store and orders placed via email that sales are largely made. Yet that in itself is keeping him busy and with just two people in the studio, time is a precious commodity.
When you have a small business you need to find any time you can to get creative,” says Mono. “That might be at home, over the weekend or while travelling. The business part is really important; I’m always dealing with orders, suppliers and customers – as well as trying to design new collections.”
Expanding while trying to keep on top of orders is a tricky business, yet one avenue that’s showing potential for Steve Mono is in sales via social media. A considered user of Instagram and Facebook (“I believe that an over-supply of information isn’t always good”) his feeds are carefully curated and show a blend of products, colour palettes, travel inspiration and development of new collections.
“When you have a small business you need to find any time you can to get creative”
By employing the Bloombees app – a tool to harness instant commerce through social networks – his growing global fan base can buy products directly or share with friends via a single click. With shipping and insurance also covered, it’s an easy win for small firms like Steve Mono’s. The designer believes that elusive online sales formula may finally come in the form of Bloombees; providing the digital solution to help his business to flourish this year.
*This blog post was written by our guest writer Ben Olsen, UK-based freelance journalist and former sub-editor for the publication Monocle.