Prior to her involvement in the programme, Claudia launched the brand Diente de León, designing and selling hand-printed stockings. The business grew organically and became well established, working with several well-known Colombian fashion designers to create stockings to complement their collections.
Claudia enrolled in the Creative Enterprise Programme (CEP) in 2016, prior to the major refresh of the programme which followed later that year. On entering the programme Claudia felt stuck. Although her business was successful in terms of its visibility and credibility, from an economic perspective Claudia was aware that it was not sustainable. Through CEP, she hoped to learn to enhance the sustainability of her business, making it more resilient, whilst also diversifying the work she produced.
Reflecting on her experience in the programme, Claudia described how the activities collectively forced her to confront what she wanted to achieve with her business, considering which elements were negotiable and which were not. This allowed her to regain an understanding of the ‘spirit of her business’ and consider how she might take it to another level.
Through the programme, Claudia began to see her business as not only producing a line of printed products, but rather as a service from which multiple products could be derived that might reach a wider customer base.
Claudia was able apply each activity of the programme to her own enterprise, refining her business idea and allowing her to determine each new phase of the business.
"These new skills have been at the core of all my new projects, so I have put them at the service of the community and my colleagues, as a differentiator and enhancer in the cultural, socioeconomic and political sectors."Claudia Gómez Mejía
Since participating in the programme, Claudia has been able to evolve her business into DDL Surface Lab, through which she aims to develop creative and custom surface design projects, with a product portfolio encompassing several lines, including textile design and surface design for use in architecture.
Claudia was also able to take her learnings from the programme and integrate them into her role teaching university students, using the CEP tools in her product and project development classes as part of the iterative creative process, encouraging students to consider all the variables of their project. Similarly, Claudia highlighted a desire to share her learnings from the programme with the wider community.
"Initially my brand of hand printed stockings grew organically… however, from the start I struggled to see how the business would be profitable. With DDL Surface Lab, I have been able to plan the business from the beginning and iterate on each element in advance, making every move less risky."Claudia Gómez Mejía
Recognising the lasting value of the programme, Claudia has been through the recruitment process to hopefully become a CEP associate, however her induction was cancelled due to COVID-19 restrictions. In addition to sharing her experience with future participants, Claudia hoped this role would afford her the “opportunity to participate positively in the consolidation and strengthening of the local and independent creative sectors, which [are] at the heart of the Plan Nacional de Desarrollo of the current government”.