Concept stores Part 3: Casa Santamaria, an incubator for emerging brands
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Bogota, Colombia: a city notorious for its busy streets, constant movement, and gray weather-- and equally celebrated for its endless list of options in shopping, eating, culture and entertainment.
The city’s prominence has attracted its fair share of entrepreneurs, with designers from all over the country flocking to the capital to jump start their businesses, resulting in an influx of chic collectives where emerging brands sell their products in the company of other like-minded labels (see our post on concept stores part 1: Bogotá here).
This phenomenon is epitomized in Casa Santamaría, a mid-20th century private home repurposed as a series of showrooms for indie designers—a design hub in the heart of Bogota’s business sector. Set on a quiet, elegant street locally referred to as the ‘Calle de los Anticuarios,’ and just a few paces from Colombian retailer St. Dom, Casa Santamaría takes on the appearance of a strategically-placed shop, yet it is anything but.
More than a concept store, it serves as an incubator for emerging brands, offering not just fashion and design, art exhibits, and prize-winning Colombian coffee, but a unique model complemented by frequent community events like cocktails, talks, workshops, trunk shows, tastings, and pop-up shops.
The Casa Santamaria model is unique in that labels are designated their own showroom to recreate their particular brand experience, including a work space that allows the designer to meet clients personally, a plus collective stores don’t usually offer. Next, the store doesn’t charge their designers any commission—a welcome benefit to forming part of the Casa Santamaría family.
The model seems to work—with now-empowered brands like Ballen Pellettiere, LaCouture Maison, and Velasquez leaving Casa Santamaria to start their own thriving businesses in stores around the capital. Today, Casa Santamaría houses 14 brands that include furniture and décor, handbags, sunglasses, swimwear, lingerie, formal wear, casual wear, and other accessories—plus the quintessential antique store next door.
As cofounder and manager Santiago Páez likes to put it, “We are an evolved real estate company, because we understand that in order to thrive, we had to create an active community and offer value to our clients in order to receive value in return.
“Our goal is not to make visitors feel like they have to come in and immediately buy something, instead we offer them a coffee, invite them to relax, join a workshop or conference, meet the designers, and live the Casa Santamaria experience.” casasantamaria.co
Brands: Ana Laverde (handbags); Carolina Alba (jewelry), Carolina Méndez (jewelry), Daila Filigrana (jewelry), De Irisarri (prêt-à-porter), Diana Cepeda (custom-made gowns), Folies (furniture and objects), Komono (eyewear and watches), La Mar Sensual Shop (lingerie), Laura Metke (jewelry), Leda (loungewear), Loopzu (socks and knitwear), Valisse (silk scarves), and Wash (swimwear).