Cocó Cuellos: Dreaming about fashion in Cuba

Many factors coincided for the emergence of an enterprise like Cocó Cuellos in Cuba. Although the inspiration always came from the iconic figure of Chanel, the fact that both creators were named Gabriela was the first call to action.

Then came the combination of words, Corte and Costura (Coco), and the nickname Cocó, which eternalized the most progressive fashion reference of her time. But Gabriela Prado Verdecia, like almost everyone who decides to start a business, was convinced by a dream.

“I dreamed it up, and then I went to tell a designer friend. She loved the idea and so I knew I was on the right track. It’s a product that I had a hard time launching, because not everyone understands it.

“Plus, we wanted something that made reference to the neck (cuello), our quintessential accessories. We didn’t have to think about it too much, the name came from a first attempt,” she explained.

Cocó Cuellos emerged during the pandemic, and its specialty is making fabric neckwear accessories to complement basic garments.

“We are three people. Besides me, there is a designer and a seamstress to whom I tell all my crazy ideas and she makes them into magic. Although I have learned to do some sewing and I’m the one who adds the finishing touches, like buttons and ribbons,” the creator told Negolution exclusively.

Getting the raw materials has not been easy, even though these accessories do not require large quantities of fabric. The complexity lies in choosing the right fabric, according to the weather conditions of the Caribbean. “We have really worked with a lot of recycled material, fabric clippings that have been given to us, ribbons and buttons recovered from other garments,” Prado noted.

—What did the pandemic mean for entrepreneurship?

“First of all, it was a driving force. Cocó Cuellos emerged in the midst of isolation, when creativity kicked in for everyone. However, sales were not significant in this period, due to the novelty and complexity of the product. We had to explain on many occasions what it consisted of and what its use was. With time, this has become easier and more and more customers are repeating their purchases.”

Regarding future projects, Gabriela does not rule out the idea of expanding the team and taking on more orders. She dreams of rescuing accessories that are rarely seen and adapting them to the peculiarities of the national environment.

She also hopes to expand her collaborations with other ventures, which until now have helped her to share knowledge, experiences and grow.

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