How To Make Your Own Small Business: Inspiration From The Young Madrid-based Designer Roberto Rivas

Roberto Rivas is a young and talented jewelry & handbag designer from Madrid, Spain. Looking at the original leather bags and handmade designs that the artist creates all by himself, you cannot help but wonder where the inspiration comes from. I sat down with Roberto to discuss his creative path and how he chose to make bags.

Roberto, tell more about your brand? How did you come up with the name ‘Vorona’?

I became a jewelry designer because the primary idea was to begin creating art objects, but in a small format, starting little by little. Only later did I have enough courage to take a further step and began creating objects that combined design and usability. I think jewelry is not always a product for everyday use, the world of bags is different in that respect, because you can reach out to a larger audience, and we definitely need bags for everyday use. I named my brand Vorona – it is a Russian word which means “Crow” in English. I chose this particular bird to impersonate my brand, because of its intelligence and particular attraction to shining objects. I also like how the word sounds.

How did you come up with the idea of creating bags?

Four years ago I bought a large scrap of leather and started playing with it – I was thinking about my final University project, and jewelry was already my passion. I believe that great masterpieces and projects sometimes start with little ideas like mine. For that University project I made four different hats representing the four seasons of the year with interesting details and brooches decorating the hats. I received the highest grade in my class and felt like I had finally found my creative path, that I had an idea how I wanted to develop myself. It was a wonderful revelation! That’s why for a later project I thought of combining metal with textile materials. Receiving compliments from people who saw my final work I realized that very few brands use jewelry or decorative elements on their bags. And the ones that do are quite expensive, and not available to everyone who likes fashion. That’s when I asked myself: “Why not create a brand using my knowledge of jewelry, making a new type of exclusive bag within the reach of general people?” With this idea in mind I stitched my first bag. 

What do your family and friends think of your job?

My friends have always been part of my crazy creative projects – whether I did paintings, sculptures, photography experiments, or in this case when my interests switched to object design. Some of my friends really like my job, maybe because they are creative people like myself and the others find my experiments funny and do not treat it too seriously. I am not offended, though. Usually people do not believe that the art I make can bring in a stable income. They look with disbelief when I explain what I do, but I am driven by passion and I think doing what you love is really important.

My family never understood why I chose to study art – they are very distant from the art world in fact, but I have been fortunate to still have their unconditional support and respect.

Do you have a bag you are most proud of?

I´m very proud of my first designs, it took me a lot of hours to figure out what I wanted them to look like. They are not perfect, but they certainly opened my mind to trying new things and therefore allowed me to develop the rest of my designs. Until today I have created more than 150 unique pieces, just bags apart from jewelry.

What is your creative dream?

My dream since I was a student at the University, surrounded by art students and a lot of creative people in general, was to have a big workplace where artists and designers from different disciplines and nationalities could come for free and create whatever they want! Being a young artist myself I thought of how important it is to have that cozy and comfortable place where you feel welcome. I would also have a museum with exhibitions within the complex. I would like to donate the revenue received from this place to organizations and NGOs that fight for a sustainable world, because I am very concerned and worried about the current environmental degradation.

What a great dream to have! Have you ever thought of creating art objects from rubbish for example? I have heard about some artists who did it quite successfully.

Yes, funnily enough I have done that. One of my best friends is from Poland, he is also a painter and a musician, we love art and have worked on a few projects together. Some of our installations were created from rubbish, my favourite is a bench that was set up for a performance in the center of Warsaw (attached a picture). The idea was to put this original bench on a grassy space next to the financial center of the city and start a picnic, playing music and attracting people all day. 

Also I have made sculptures but not necessarily from rubbish but from other interesting eco-friendly materials.  

I know you also work as a photographer and are really good at it. How do you combine your love for photography with your love for design?

At the moment I dedicate all my time to designing handbags, it is my major focus right now and also my business. My passion for photography therefore has been partly abandoned. I take photos of my art objects and when I travel I practice my favorite genre of photography – “street photography”. I like it a lot because it makes you notice little things around you and allows you to capture moments that may be really magical and special in their simplicity. Sometimes I think that can help me in my daily life and work – paying attention to details and making the world a more beautiful place.

Photos: Archive of the author


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