“I saw an opportunity to express Argentine culture and history through clothing.”
- Year selected
Gabriel transformed a passion for Argentine culture and history into Cardon, a chain of retail stores that offers high-quality clothing and leather accessories with a distinct Argentine style. Over the years Gabriel tried many different sales channels for his products, until he developed and implemented his own franchise system. Cardon has seen rapid success, and now has more than 100 retail stores. Gabriel visited every corner of the country to develop his unique Argentine brand identity. Cardon’s clothing and leather accessories are produced by twelve strategic suppliers, who have exclusive licensing agreements with Cardon. Cardon’s clothing and accessories have been featured in top magazines such as GQ, Harper’s Bazaar and Town & Country. Cardon recently participated in Caribbean Fashion Week , and just had a successful fashion show in Venezuela organized by the Argentine Ministry of Tourism.
Gabriel continues to grow Cardon horizontally, branching out into different industries. His projects include partnering with a construction company to build student housing in Palermo and acquiring the restaurant chain El Noble Repulgue in 2009. His latest projects include building a shopping mall and a golf resort. Gabriel is not only a gifted businessman, but a socially responsible one, too. He organizes fundraising trips to all the cities where Cardon stores are located, collecting donations and getting all of the Cardon branches involved in community service in their respective cities. Gabriel seeks to transmit a sense of Argentine culture and values through his stores. Folkloric music and interior decorations of wood and leather are common themes in each store. Gabriel’s passion for Cardon is clearly exemplified by his comment, “I wear Cardon, I dream Cardon, I live Cardon.”
In 1986, while studying in Buenos Aires, Gabriel began to make leather belts and sell them to his friends. Demand grew so quickly that in 1988 he left his university and went back to his hometown of Ramallo to open his first store. Through both direct sales at his store and wholesale sales, he was selling high enough volume to merit building his own leather products factory.
In spite of difficult macroeconomic conditions in Argentina, Gabriel successfully grew Cardon. In 1995 and 1996 Gabriel decided to roll up his sleeves and went from city to city with a car full of products visiting every client and personally collecting payments. After a car accident in 1996 left him bedridden for several months, Gabriel decided to redefine the format of the business. His independent retailer clients would have to become Cardon exclusive stores. Soon Cardon grew into a successful franchise company.
Endeavor and Cardon
Gabriel, who credits Endeavor with helping him “think big,” has received mentorship on franchising models and operations, and attended a global Entrepreneur Summit.
Gabriel serves as a panelist, mentors other Entrepreneurs, and speaks at conferences on behalf of Endeavor.
Carlos Mastretta Guzmán
Alejandro Diego von Dorrer
Kommunity Group (formerly LapDesk)
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