San José, Costa Rica, since 1956

Unique Boutique Offers New Line of Handbags

Cacao Tessile, a boutique specializing in one-of-a-kind handbags, recently opened its doors in La Sabana, in west San José.

The owner is Gabriela Herrera, a 26-year-old with an eye for design and a considerable fascination for handbags.

This new shop fills its space with a mix of fun and fairly priced purses, handbags, wallets and accessories all handcrafted and inspired by its owner, who describes the store’s style as bohemian chic.

Herrera first got the idea of creating her own line of handbags after she received one as a gift from a friend who visited her from Chile.

As she walked the hallways as a student at the University of Costa Rica, other young women would regularly ask her where she bought her purse with wooden buckles.

“My initial reaction to all the attention I was receiving was that this bag was something easy to create, and I knew I could do it,” said Herrera.

Few people know that Gabriela Herrera, who graduated from UCR with a degree in advertising, is self-taught. “I learned how to use the sewing machine by going through its manual and eventually breaking about 20 needles,” she said. Herrera went on to create her first piece, a tote made out of her mother’s old jeans.

Not following any pattern, Herrera sewed her first 20 handbags, which she sold at her boyfriend’s office in one day. Orders by her friends began to take place, for birthdays and Christmas. Before she knew it, Herrera had built up a clientele.

Monday through Friday you can find Herrera behind the sewing machine at her new store working on all the orders that have been made. “I have 15 different types of handbag designs that I normally work on. However, I pretty much do whatever the customer likes,” she says.

Herrera also designed her own Web site where she displays all the items for sale, as well as the materials she works with. “The fabric inspires me. I plan on eventually producing my own material. I have already sketched what will someday be fabric created by me,” said Herrera, who gives every bag and tote quirky names such as “Lulu,” “Martini” or “Chocomenta.”

Products offered at Cacao Tessile also include rings, necklaces and other jewelry custom made by Herrera’s family and friends.

Like many students nowadays, Gabriela Herrera’s store represents an idea born as a simple marketing class project brought to fruition.

“Cacao Tessile was my thesis and now it’s a reality,” she said.

Chic out

Cacao Tessile is located 200 meters west of Canal 7 in La Sabana in western San José. For more information, go to or contact call 2232-1418.


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