Back in November at our biggest show in Houston, one of the Scissors Men struck up a conversation in Spanish with Noel Cabrera, owner of the family-run business Cabrera Marketing in Puerto Rico. Noel was interested in our scissors and products and wanted more information to see if he could carry our products for the stores, he services. From then, Noel and Sebastian kept an ongoing business relationship exchanging products and discussing the types of sewing products needed in Puerto Rico. Intrigued by life in Puerto Rico and being from the island himself, Sebastian and Brint decided to take a trip in the first week of May to go see Cabrera’s operation and understand their needs on the island.
Sebastian and Brint found that life after Hurricane Maria was back to normal for the people of Puerto Rico. The spirit of the people wasn’t broken, instead the citizens were stronger than ever and embraced the life-changing experience. The island itself has been fully rebuilt and restored as it was before the hurricane.
As Sebastian described, the population of Puerto Rico doesn’t own much, but makes due with what they have. The demand for crafts and sewing is immensely high in Puerto Rico, and the craft is focused more on family-owned businesses than the normal corporate name-brands we see in the U.S. Sewing in Puerto Rico is more practical, the people use sewing to fix everyday clothes and reupholstering furniture; whereas, sewing is more of a hobby in the U.S. Sebastian was fascinated with just how different sewing is used in both of the societies.
Started by Noel’s father, Cabrera Marketing has been around for over 40 years and supplies multiple stores in Puerto Rico with everything from thread to scissors, needles, acrylic paints, sewing machines, and more. Cabrera Marketing is passionate about their customers and want to make sure they’re giving their customers what they need. Noel and his family work over 12 hours a day and maintain a personal relationship with each of their distributors and customers.
Puerto Rico businesses don’t rely on websites or the internet to gain new customers; instead, businesses personally spread the word and Noel helps figure out everything his customers need. Since Puerto Ricans are loyal to brands, they are familiar with, Noel sells sewing brands he knows are good, but within the price the market can sustain on the island.
While visiting the three stores Cabrera Marketing supplies to, we noticed the immense volume of customers coming in and out of the stores. Similar to a department store, like Hobby Lobby, one of the stores featured all fabric in every style, pattern, and print imaginable. Another store in a smaller town held a workshop for citizens to learn the basics of sewing; since there aren’t many shops like this in the U.S., we thoroughly enjoyed the idea of teaching the practice of sewing. Sebastian was thrilled when he learned about the sewing classes; he believes it’s in any store’s best interest to host classes, because customers are more likely to buy products when they know how to use them. The store even wants to start quilting classes and need quilting educators to come help and teach in Puerto Rico.