Certainly, mysterious legends unfold the fantasy of humanity from time immemorial. One of these myths led conquistadors, adventurers, and scientists into the deep jungle of Columbia. For centuries, those people gave their lives – or, unfortunately, they took them from others – on the search for El Dorado, a secret place, built of pure gold and full of incredible treasures. Thereby, it’s so easy to find big treasures in Columbia, also today. Without any doubt, besides people and nature, a true valuable Columbian treasure is Agua Bendita.
The cultural values and artistries of various civilizations of our world are incredibly precious. By and by, a lot of them were destroyed or forgotten. It should be a heart’s desire for all of us to preserve these cultural treasures for future generations. Agua Bendita is young, playful, and refreshing. Headquartered in Medellin, Columbia, it maintains age-old traditions and values of its country as well as beyond. These traditional values and artistry inspire Catalina Álvarez and Mariana Hinestroza since 2003.
THE MOST MAGNIFICENT (AMAZING) ABC – AGUA BENDITA COLUMBIA
ALL ABOUT THE BRAND
Catalina and Mariana are two friends who believed in the same dream. They got into fashion design without knowing that they would unite their talents to become the owners and designers of their own brand.
Agua Bendita was born in a classroom; with pieces of fabrics and with their grandmother’s sewing machine. Their creativity awoke when they used those tiny fabrics pieces into the confection of swimming suits and garments filled with manual details and originality.
SINCE THE BEGINNING,
Catalina and Mariana unlearned what they have learned in their pattern and design classes, by taking the risk of creating unique pieces with new textures, fabrics, and silhouettes. Pieces that were different to what the market was offering.
Passionate for the handcrafted work and influenced by their Colombian culture, Catalina and Mariana made their dream come true. At first, they designed in Catalina’s house and took their designs to a dressmaker so she could make the final piece.
But the time passed and one single dressmaker wasn’t enough for Agua Bendita. Both designers have always had a great sense of belonging for their country and they knew that Agua Bendita could be the place where many women could also achieve their dreams.
they started to build a workplace for hundreds of women who make unique pieces that now thousands of women wear in more than 50 countries where Agua Bendita is present.
is a joyful, charismatic, and creative woman. Her life turns around creating collections with Mariana while she shares time with her two children, Valerio and Alegría.
is an athlete, she was a ballet dancer for many years and the discipline she learned from it led her to be a talented and structured designer. She has a strong character but an enormous heart that makes her want to help everyone she’s in the capacity to do so. Mariana’s son is Valentino. Catalina and Mariana share their lives as partners, friends, designers, and mothers.
Behind each piece of Agua Bendita there’s a story, the one of hundreds of artisan women, that with their hands and love for their crafts, give our designs the hallmark of our country and the strength of our people.
Each time you buy a piece from Agua Bendita, you are buying more than just a swimsuit. You are getting a unique piece made with an artisanal technique that has been passed from generation to generation between these Colombian women.
AB Hearts is a statement of our commitment to the women that make possible this company, and to our country because it is in our interests to improve the living conditions of these artisans that are the proof of how important it is to have empowered women to build industry and a more equal society.
IN INTERVIEW WITH CATALINA ALVAREZ
The fashion industry is always in motion. Like the waves of the ocean, it goes up and down. What has changed since the beginning of Agua Bendita and what were your biggest successes – or mistakes – until today?
Fashion is always moving forward and we, as designers, have to be aware of every single change. I think we need to act between fast fashion, with the capability of being able to work in a trendy and sophisticated brand, and our DNA: traditional handicrafts.
Today, we have to consider how our DNA can be maintained, while we have to spot and anticipate trends. It’s always a tightrope walk between the need to be always a step ahead and the preservation of our values. With respect to the social media boom and the new ways of communication, we have to communicate all the things that we are doing in the right way.
Your collections belong to the most beautiful ones on the market. What is your secret to create such an amazing fashion?
The secret is team work!!! But, I am not speaking about a conventional team… Our team lives and vibrates with the words Agua Bendita!!! For all of us, AB is our family and a part of our lives.
Thus, every product is a part of each one of us. Nobody stands or works alone. The common aim is to provide the best collections. This cohesion effects a good and unique energy that the team puts into the complete production process.
Another differentiation is the manufacturing process, genuine manual work of hundreds of Colombian artisan women. Social Responsibility is closely linked with our DNA.
The collection is full of artistic details. Is it not too valuable to go swimming with it?
We think that the valuable thing is the right thing. We need people to recognize all the hard work of hundreds of artisans: We have handmade pieces and we can’t forget that this is the biggest differentiation with the rest of the brands.
4. In accordance with your wonderful collections, you are always working with the most beautiful international models, like Bar Refaeli, Candice Swanepoel, Kendall Jenner, Rianne Ten Haken… and now with Megan Williams. Why did you choose them? How do you select and find the right model?
Of course, we love celebrities and women who are recognized all over the world. Agua Bendita is based in Colombia. The cooperation with international top models help us to make our brand international known.
However, we are looking for the perfect women that fit with our DNA. So, we are fortunate that the best ones want to be with Agua Bendita.
Recently, more and more new powerful and self-confident women conquer the Hollywood screens. Gal Gadot (Wonder Woman), Daisy Ridley (Star Wars), Cara Delevingne (Valerian), Sofia Boutella (The Mummy) etc. When you would have to choose one for your next campaign, who would it be, and why? Which popular person (in general) inspires you the most?
I love Josephine Skriver. for me she is the coming super model. She is young, feminine, sophisticated, and she inspires all the new generations. Furthermore, she is growing professionally very fast. For me, she is the next Candice Swanepoel!
Although your models come from South Africa, Israel, U.K., Russia, The Netherlands, and other places, do they reflect the typical Agua Bendita DNA? How would you describe the typical Agua Bendita woman, and how would you describe the typical Colombian girl?
I think the Agua Bendita woman is a true cosmopolitan. She could be come from Colombia or the rest of the world. The Agua Bendita women share a common thing.
It’s the power of their beauty, their self-confidence, and the strength of their characters. These things make them famous. Obviously, they are successful because of many things, which make them stand out from the crowd.
That are the real Bendita Girls.
How could you describe Agua Bendita with 5 words?
Colorful, handcrafted, international, trendy, vanguard, eclectic…
How could you explain your current collection in 5 words?
I could do it in one sentence: The sophistication of Agua Bendita keeping the DNA in every single detail!
Colombia is surrounded by two oceans. Your name means ‘Holy Water’. What’s the idea behind?
The name comes from a real authentic Colombian thing!! When we started, we put scapulars on our pieces, which represent amulets of good luck and faith. So, when I came to name our brand, we immediately knew that Agua Bendita was the perfect name for us!
Obviously, the collection is vivid and colorful. I see the ocean and the sky, the sun, and the beach. What is the idea of the current collection. Which place, who or what has inspired you, and how much of Colombia we can find within it?
Skyscrapers, traffic jams, paperwork, appointments, troubles, errands, bills, noise, insomnia, meetings, stress… STOP!
BREATH. Watch the sunset falling into the sea, feel the sand beneath your toes, smell the fresh salty air, taste the flavors of sweet fruits and coconut water and listen to the rhythm of the tide and let the tropical music feed your soul.
Travel to our Caribbean Dream and get ready to feel the vibrant colors of summer embodied in unique pieces made with love and passion by hundreds of Colombian artisans that combine knitting, embroidery and beading with our original prints.
Agua Bendita invites you to embrace the fun, the beauty and the peace you can only find in the Caribbean… and if you can’t go, day-dream it with AB!
How would you describe Colombia with 5 words?
Paradise – Colors – People – Happiness – Passion
When international media report about your country, they deal mainly with its political or social problems. What, they should show instead of this, what we should know, and what are the most beautiful sides of Colombia?
People in Colombia are the best! Some examples: Shakira, J Balvin, Carlos Vives, actresses like Sofia Vergara, artists like Fernando Botero, Doris Salcedo, Beatriz González, Óscar Murillo…
Of course, swimwear brands like Agua Bendita *hahahaha* Additionally, so many more famous people, places etc. We are all coming from a country with so many difficulties.
But, we just have all positive thoughts and we work very hard. Thus, I can say, we are all good people who want to succeed and take our country forward.
When you would have to leave Colombia for a longer time, what would you miss and what not?
We leave our country just for short periods, for holidays or for fairs! I hope we will never have to leave longer! Colombia is our life and the quality of life is the best here!
What would you miss regarding your business, and what you wouldn’t miss, when you would have to stop it for a while?
We had never stopped ;-), but if I have to imagine it, what I would miss the most is the energy of our team! They are all talented, young and with the best vibes!
When we visit you and Colombia, what shouldn’t we miss?
You shouldn’t miss our food. It’s delicious! Cartagena and its colonial architecture are amazing. Of course, the beach Providencia and its sea. Medellín and its mountains and flowers. Finally, when you meet all the lovely people on every single corner, you will never forget the most passionate and loving country!
Pictures: © Agua Bendita 2017