‘Abanicos Carbonell’ is a beautiful fan shop in the centre of Valencia flooded with colour and pattern in the form of hand-painted, artisan fans that highlight the importance of the Spanish brand. Generations of craftsmanship and tradition precede this quaint little shop where you are invited to step inside and learn more about the trade. Guillermo and Paula Carbonell are the 4th and 5th generation of a family committed to the manufacture of craft hand fans. Their great-great grandfather, Arturo Carbonell Rubio began the trade when he bought an old factory over 200 years ago. A. Carobell Requena then took over and his sons, Arturo, Ricardo, and José followed in their footsteps. Guillermo and Paula have learnt all their secrets and continue to craft exquisite handmade fans to this day. Their stunning creations are the perfect way to capture your memories of Valencia in a handmade Spanish fan that embodies tradition and hard work. A member of the ‘24/7 Valencia’ team had the pleasure of talking with Paula Carbonell to learn more about the company’s family history and the secrets of the trade…
24/7 Valencia: Could you tell us about your career and how ABANICOS CARBONELL came about?
Paula: I am Paula Carbonell. I am the 5th generation of fan manufacturers. Our company was founded in 1810 and my great-great-grandfather bought it in 1860, since then it has been passed down from generation to generation.
24/7 Valencia: Could you tell us a little about your products and how you make your fans?
Paula: Our fans are all handmade in Valencia. Manufacturing has many steps, and a fan goes through many sets of hands before it can be sold to the public. From cutting the wood, polishing, varnishing, or lacquering to the cutting of the fabrics, the painting, the weaving and then of course, the final review! The quality of our fans is remarkable thanks to the craftsmanship and knowledge of this trade.
24/7 Valencia: What is the cultural significance of fans in Spain?
Paula: Fans are a fashion accessory in Spain; they are associated with Andalusian women because of flamenco, although they are originally made in Valencia. They are an important part of the regional costumes here.
24/7 Valencia: How important would you consider the sense of community and customer connection in your family business?
Paula: At Abanicos Carbonell, we believe that personalised service is the basis of a much more satisfactory shopping experience.
24/7 Valencia: Do your sales fluctuate at all during the Fallas festivities?
Paula: Yes, our sales do tend to increase during Fallas because of the boost in tourism.
24/7 Valencia: What do you like most about your job?
Paula: This job is my way of life, I grew up here, it is my home, and I enjoy every part of the process.
24/7 Valencia: What do you hope for the future of your business?
Paula: Thinking about the future, I hope that this artisan trade will continue to grow or at least maintain itself. We have already managed to overcome a major crisis, the invasion of Asian products and the COVID-19 pandemic. We will continue to focus on detail, which is the essence of the continuity of our company over time.
Interview by Imogen Hockings
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