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Meet Karina Salmeron and Kenneth Villagra

Today we’d like to introduce you to Karina Salmeron and Kenneth Villagra.

Thanks for sharing your story with us Karina and Kenneth. So, let’s start at the beginning and we can move on from there.
Valas is a story centered on family, sacrifice, and aspiring to live the American dream. 

We started with the idea of wanting more. When the opportunity was presented to start the brand, we took the risk on each other and decided to create and chase each other’s dreams. Over the years we continue to lean on each other as we continue to push and grow what is now Valas Los Angeles, a brand that has landed amongst tastemakers, athletes, and artists across the world. 

Overall, has it been relatively smooth? If not, what were some of the struggles along the way?
Along our journey, there have been many patches of rough road. Starting a company from scratch with very little experience has put us through a lot of trial and error. Through this, we have gained much experience and knowledge that has shaped us to become smarter and more efficient in both running and growing our business.

We’d love to hear more about your business.
We’re (Valas) a brother and sister duo that produces luxury leather goods, mainly focused around accessories (Bags & Shoes). Quality, functionality, and craftsmanship are our core focus. We take pride in the fact that the majority of our goods are made in Los Angeles, the rest being made in Italy. Our designs stem from personal experiences, from both recent and childhood. For example, our Championship belt bag is homage to Kenny and our brother Jorge growing up in the 90’s being huge fans of wrestling (WWE / WCW). They always imagined themselves as their favorite wrestlers fighting to proclaim the Championship belt. We thought it would be a cool idea to reimagine and reproduce that feeling through design and by encouraging others to channel their inner champion.

We’re proud of many things, one that sticks out the most is being asked to have our Voyager bag displayed within the Tassen Museum in Amsterdam, which houses the largest collection of bags and purses. It is something that we hold dearly. 

If you had to go back in time and start over, would you have done anything differently?
If we had to start over, there are a few things that we would do differently; One, there would be a bigger emphasis on the marketing side of things. In the beginning, we had a mindset of, “if we build it they will come”. We knew this was the slow route, but we also knew it would create organic growth. We said no to social media nor worked with any outlets to generate press. Therefore, we missed out on a lot of early opportunities to create buzz and bring eyes on the brand. Second, amplifying the brand’s story. Over the years we have realized that people want to relate and resonate with the individuals and creators behind brands. We’re living in a world where a consumer has endless options. It’s more likely that an individual will purchase products when they both genuinely love the goods and the individuals behind them. This is an area that we’re currently working on and strongly believe will take us to the next level. 

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