Gabriela Flores

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Kirah Design

Gabriela Flores

2012 Laureate for Latin America

The Cartier experience clearly added value to our brand
From twisted trunks to art
Interview conducted in Santa Cruz de la Sierra, Bolivia

“There’s a ‘before and after’ Cartier,” said Gabriela, winner of the prestigious Cartier Women’s Initiative Awards in 2012.

Founder of Kirah Design, Gabriela today is a successful entrepreneur with a promising future. “We’re definitely in a ‘golden moment,” she explained. “The days when we were just scraping by are in the past – we are now reaping the benefits of our work, and have amazing prospects for growth.”

The core activity of the business, founded in 2008, has remained the same: transforming forest waste otherwise destined for incineration into decorative objects and artwork. Kirah Design works only with native Bolivian Rosewood, known locally as Morado. 40 artisans work for Gabriela making furniture, vases, sculpted bowls and other items.

“The Cartier Awards really accompany you every step of the way and give you momentum,” Gabriela said. “Thanks to their support, and to the contacts I have made with other women entrepreneurs, I have a much better understanding of how to grow a business.”

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That guidance has helped shape the orientation of Kirah Design since 2012. To begin with, Gabriela today focuses almost entirely on forest waste, with only 10% of the company’s activities centered on objects made from recycled glass or other materials. Also, quality clearly trumps quantity. “As we have grown, we have added value to our brand,” she explained. “Before, our pieces sold for $150 at most. Nowadays, we have, for example, a dining room table that goes for $2,400. For sales outside of Bolivia, our prices go up several-fold.”

The artisans’ skill level has also been raised. They have gone from a ‘success rate’ of 30% to 80% in making marketable objects. “If I decided to start a company, it was also to have a positive impact on my country – I could not have imagined things being otherwise,” Gabriela emphasized.

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The changes are showing results. This year, revenues are projected to be more than twice those of 2012. International markets have opened up as well. “At first, Bolivia accounted for most of our sales. Today, we have presence in markets such as Brazil, Peru, Chile, Dubai and we even have a foothold in the United States,” Gabriela said.

With the expanded horizons has come recognition: At the end of May, Kirah Design won 1st place in the Art, Accessories and Décor category of the Product Design Awards at the Index International Design Exhibition in Dubai. She was the only Bolivian entrepreneur represented at the show.