Nearly 8 years ago, María del Mar Echeverría launched her company Mare Design Center, specialized in high-end italian architectural finishes including flooring, doors, windows, kitchen furniture and specialty italian brands.
She studied business but has always been interested in art, design and quality products. So, it’s no coincidence that she decided to launch this business with a particular blend of the three elements.
Today she remembers that during a visit she made to her sister in New York, she went to a design fair that made her take a new career path. In this meeting, Echeverría met Andrea Muccioli, an Italian who owns one of the wood floor brands she represents and which was the first one she sold in Costa Rica.
“I began as a small business and I feel that we are still a growing company. Muccioli lent me the samples of the product and I began to knock on doors in the architecture and design market in Costa Rica. I did not know anyone and it was a pleasant surprise to see architects with great experience like Ronald Zurcher answer my emails,”she says.
María del Mar points out that her beginnings were like all entrepreneurship efforts… requiring much effort and dedication. “The first year I sold absolutely nothing, but then projects began to materialize and in the end I began to see the light at the end of the tunnel. What I have learned these years is that we need to persevere,” she recalls.
María del Mar Echeverría affirms that what has given her a different reputation for her company Mare Design Center is honesty. “With the client, you have to be very honest and tell them what they are like. For example, be clear that ‘this material has these characteristics’ and be careful not to oversell or create unrealistic expectations.
I really saw a niche in this market in Costa Rica, because I realized that here came many brands that claimed to be the best in the world, which was not true and for me that is deceiving the customer. Therefore, our strategy has been to get the best Italian brands and bring them to the country, making known what is behind each of them, ” she explains.
Simplicity and luxury, a perfect blend
For María del Mar Echevería, luxury products and brands, like food, don’t require too many condiments. The beauty can be found in pure simplicity and that makes a world of difference.
María del Mar points out that in addition there are other important details that are the guarantees, the company that sells the product. In addition to how workers manipulate that material and care for the environment. “That’s why we look for companies that are consistent and that what they say they fulfill,” he explains.
At this moment, the owner of Mare Design Center indicates that she works with approximately 12 brands in her business, “this is because we do not like them to compete with each other. The idea is not quantity but quality “.
Echeverría points out that all clients are different, but mostly very smart and seek proper support and to avoid headaches down the road.
We’ve specialized in ‘turnkey’ projects. Customers sometimes arrive for a specific item such as specific flooring or kitchen furniture, but little by little a relationship of trust grows and we end up supporting the whole project.
For María del Mar, each client is different and our goal is to make sure they feel comfortable with what they are buying, because a house is a life project. What we sell are long-term solutions and that is why it is very important that the customer is happy not only with the quality of the product and technical aspects, but also with the final look or appearance.
According to Echeverría the Costa Rican is not an ostentatious person, “here people are looking for long-term solutions and, being a sustainable country where green awareness and sustainability has a stronger rooting, as a company we deliver options that do not generate more garbage and pollution to the planet. For me, simplicity begets elegance,” she says.
Among the turnkey projects completed by MARE, María del Mar spotlights the Piacere Penthouse in Escazú. In this case the client came to us for a specific product but we ended up supporting the whole project. They had already bought the penthouse; however, they did not have an architectural proposal that would fulfill their expectations and what we did was to help them with the internal design.
It was a rather long and meticulous process, to develop the internal design project that would adapt to their lifestyle. The customers were so satisfied that they recommended us for another project… always a good sign.
Echeverría also highlights a one-of-a-kind project, The Highpoint en Cerro Alto. “This was a case with which we worked with a well-known architecture firm, we did not do the interior design, but rather a specific work with a very particular wooden floor.The client fell in love with that floor and based on that product developed all the internal design, “she says.
María del Mar concludes by mentioning that every time a project ends she feels fulfilled, and not only by her effort, but the impact the whole team at MARE can have.
“I am very proud to see how young projects, like us, are building a dream. Everything is worth it when we see the project materialized and the client is happy.