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Growing up in Barranquilla, Colombia, Adriana Castro, 25, regularly visited a farm, but not one equipped with the usual red barn, or horses and gaggle of chickens. Instead, her father owned and operated a zoocriadero, or crocodile farm, in nearby Cuatro Bocas. Spending time there inspired Castro to make a bag for her quinceañera — the celebration of a young woman’s fifteenth birthday in Hispanic cultures — which proved to be a hit, and she soon started designing belts and wallets to give as gifts.
Fast-forward a decade. Armed with a bachelor’s degree in economics from Purdue University and accessories design courses from the Miami International University of Art & Design, the Miami-based Castro was ready to realize her childhood dreams. Taking what she learned from her father, she launched her first collection for spring 2007, and soon after won Miami’s 2007 Gen Art Fresh Faces in Fashion award.
“I thought about the flow of newcomers that come to Miami daily: corporate executives, successful entrepreneurs, sports and entertainment celebrities and, of course, our seasonal visitors, and gave a nod to these people with a little bit of everything,” says Castro. Indeed, there are metallic clutches, raffia totes, glazed satchels and matte crocodile messenger bags — many done in a raw manner that leaves the ridges of the hides intact. The collection, which is manufactured in Bogotá, wholesales from $70 for cuffs to $130 for belts to $550 for evening clutches. It has been picked up by boutiques such as Next Worth Avenue in Palm Beach, Fla., Nurielle in Bal Harbour, Fla., and Aura in Los Angeles.