When Cecilia Taibo Rahban, of Cecilia´s Steel showed her husband her first design, he said: “That’s you, delicate yet strong,” and came up with the brand name right away. He was referring to Cecilia’s resilience in the face of adversity. It´s Cecilia´s mission to inspire women to persevere, and to celebrate both their sensitivities and strengths.
It all began with a fashion accessory she designed years ago. Her husband insisted that she craft it out of metal; after trying a few different materials, she settled on chain maille for its look and feel, and because it’s easy to care for. As she visited boutiques to introduce her new creation, the boutique owners were drawn to it, wanted to touch it, and asked her if she had any pieces to be worn around the neck, and so the necklaces were born …
The timing worked out because, just as she started, her father fell ill; she was away from home much of the time and couldn’t work on the original fashion trim, but her new jewelry line was very portable. She worked on it on and off while taking care of her father. We interviewed Cecilia because she is an example of a strong midlife woman who dared to reinvent herself and pursue her dreams.
Viva Fifty.- What inspired your most popular creation?
Cecilia Taíbo Rahban.- The Steel Pearl bracelet came about when I launched my line at a Women in Business breakfast session; I then had only two necklace designs, my main focus was on my new fashion trim, a completely different design. At that event, my very first client asked me whether I could make a bracelet; she wanted it to have a magnetic clasp so she could easily slip it on and off herself. She liked the width of the necklace I had on display, so that’s how I made it. That bracelet is now my most popular design, and my personal favorite. I’m honored that it was featured at the Museum of Latin American Art in Long Beach as part of the Women’s Day Festival 2015 “Empowerment through the Arts.”
Viva Fifty.- Do you create customized pieces?
Cecilia Taíbo Rahban.- Absolutely! Of course I customize the size/length on my existing designs, and I welcome requests for new designs.
Viva Fifty.- What is your vision for the brand and your creations?
Cecilia Taíbo Rahban.- I want both of them to be a familiar symbol of femininity and strength, that will help ground the wearer, and be a reminder of how strong we women really are. The sky’s the limit. Most importantly, I want to be of service to those who wear my pieces.
Viva Fifty.- Your advice to a midlife entrepreneur starting a new venture?
Cecilia Taíbo Rahban.- Keep at it! It’s an exciting time in life for new beginnings. Of course there are challenges, only now you have a very valuable set of life skills and experiences you didn’t have in youth, and have established a wonderful support system of family and friends.
In my opinion, if you don’t know where to start, just take the first step and I´m sure you’ll be surprised at how fast doors open when you are proactive.
I had planned to launch two months earlier than I did, but the day before the event I slipped and fell at the gas station, fractured my elbow, and didn’t make it. I feel it was meant to be. That´s how I was able to meet my first client at the next venue, the lady who requested the bracelet and got me going in this direction.
Viva Fifty.- What has been the biggest challenge starting your business?
Cecilia Taíbo Rahban.- Caring for my ill parents; the emotional toll being the greatest challenge. Even though managing my time was not easy, I’m very glad I made them my priority.
Viva Fifty.- What about the greatest satisfaction?
Cecilia Taíbo Rahban.- Seeing and feeling the sincere support of family and friends from the start, and then of people I didn’t even know. I have encountered amazing people on my journey, some of whom I now call friends.
Viva Fifty.- Your words of wisdom to younger women?
Cecilia Taíbo Rahban.- Keep pursuing your goals. If your circumstances don’t allow you to pursue them right now, it doesn’t mean they’re not attainable; do what you can, ask for help, just start.