Stories in the life
of a freelance handbag designer
Once upon a time there was a freelance designer
specialised in the world of handbags...
Stories in the life of a “cool” little girl ☺
It might seem a little strange coming from me, but it’s true! I was always a very cool girl. Yes, cool is the correct word! Always daydreaming... Always painting, doing crafts, jumping, dancing, smiling...
I got along really well with all the kids in my world, and although I was never the most popular girl in school, we had a great time together! Mini Raquel wanted to be a vet and a dog breeder. It all seemed very clear in my mind: I adored animals and they adored me. That was to be my career for life.
What Mini Raquel didn’t expect was not getting the mark needed to get into Veterinary Medicine program!
No worries!” I told myself with that positivism that had always characterised me. “I’ll start with biology and I’ll change degrees in second year”. Impossible! I just couldn’t get motivated. In fact, I spent that entire course browsing all the stores in Madrid’s famous fashion neighbourhoods of El Sol and La Vaguada!
No, it wasn’t really a wasted year! Because that was the year that set the direction for the rest of my life! It happened like so many other things that are bound to happen - accidentally.
One day, during one of my driving lessons, I met a girl who told me she was studying fashion. "Whaaaat? You can study that?”. It blew my mind! Literally. I saw the light.
I had always loved fashion. So much so that when my teenage friends and I were going out, they always came to dress up at my place because I had everything we needed and more!
"Daddy, I need money for clothes" I was constantly asking my father. And the poor man knew without a doubt knew that in a few hours Raquel would arrive with another new bag. “It's just that I tried many pants on but they don’t suit me. But look how good this bag makes me look!”
The following term I enrolled myself at the Polytechnic University of Madrid to study Fashion Design..
THE BEST DECISION OF MY LIFE.
Stories of a freelance handbag designer
Now they feel like childhood games but those four years designing, patterning and making leather bags with my colleagues in the school workshops, shaped the handbag designer that Raquel Estaban Jabon is today.
And when in the fourth year of my degree I had the opportunity to choose a specialty, I had no doubt in my mind: I was going to design leather bags.
From that moment on, my life became a wonderful adventure. I lived a few unforgettable months of Erasmus in Brighton, I left Madrid and I went to live in Barcelona, I started working as a designer for the accessories department of Stradivarius (Inditex)...
But after six mega-cool years, I felt I needed something else for me.
I needed to evolve. I needed to reinvent myself. And I crossed sides.
From one day to the next, Raquel Esteban Jabon became a freelance designer creating handbags for a French trader with a factory in Asia.
All kinds of bags emerged from that professional relationship: signature bags, exclusive bags, sling bags, tote bags, bowling bags, jewel bags, Satchel bags, backpacks, mini bags, fanny packs...
For 7 years we were a designer bag making machine. We even opened a wholesale bag store in Barcelona. Best learning experience ever!
What was the next stage for me?
September 2018. It was time to go at it alone.
It was time to become a freelance handbag designer - a terrifying but also super exciting step!
I could have never imagined all the excitement around the corner!
In a matter of months, I had a design studio in China.
Just like that!
Today, most of my clients are handbag factories for whom I design collections which they in turn offer to their clients, retail brands, and wholesalers around the world.
I also work for manufacturers of bag materials, and various Chinese companies.
And so, between adventure and adventure, I have already added 15 years of professional experience as a designer!
Postcards from China (interlude)
8 is my lucky number.
It had always seemed like a nice number to me, but when I arrived in China I realised that behind its “plumpish” appearance, there was much more.
Have you ever noticed its perfect symmetry? You can place it vertically or horizontally, and it will always be a symmetric 8. Always in perfect balance. Always in perfect harmony. For Chinese culture 8 is synonymous with abundance.
And that is precisely what number 8 has always brought me: balance, harmony and abundance.
In 2018, specifically, I left behind all those wonderful people that have always accompanied me in my life and made me feel so loved at home, and I planted myself in China. Just like that!
And in no time, this amazing universe had become my second home.
Not only that. In less than 8 months, handbag manufacturers in China were fighting to hire this new Spanish designer who had just landed in their city.
I'm not exaggerating. I have been treated like the queen of handbag design. I have had the opportunity to get to know the Chinese mindset, their way of living and working, the markets, the manufacturers...
I understand and specialise in the philosophy behind the popular Made in China.
But you know what? Every single day when I walk out of my place and lose myself in the streets of China, I still freak out!
I have to pinch and ask myself, “Rachi, where are you?! What are you doing in China!?
And I am amazed by the surprises that my life and my work in China hold every day.
The best thing is that, now I understand the why and how of making handbags in China and I know how to help my clients make the most of this market.
Exactly what I said - number 8.
Because, you tell me! Making your profession your passion and living every day with top energy and creativity isn’t being one of the luckiest person in this world?
Stories of our life TOGETHER
YOUR LIFE AND MINE.
Our paths have crossed
and now we have no choice but to show the world
what you and I are capable of!
Raquel. Yes, Raquel.
Because you are brave, perfectionist and highly professional, and you want someone who shares those qualities.
You want a workaholic with whom to grow up and take the world by storm together. True or false?
So, Raquel. Rachi, for you.
I am sure that, like all my clients, you will love my positive energy, sense humour, dedication and professionalism. But above all, I know you’re going to love results. Our results.
So, the question I'm asking you right now is this:
Are you ready to conquer the handbag world?