With the recent success of one of its latest projects, Huomantech 2023, Go Aragón has the opportunity to interview Sara Palacino, one of the coordinators of this event and Co-Founder of La Colmena.
Sara is a young and ambitious oscense with a passion for the world of design, creative communication and advertising. Willing to eat the world, even inventing her own job, Sara is the Co-Founder of the innovative creative agency La Colmena, where she works hand in hand with her partners, in a team of 12 people, as Account Manager of the company.
Huomantech 2023 has been one of her most recent successes, and as coordinator of this event she has achieved the perfect combination of technology, training, equality and inclusion. La Colmena, and the rest of the organizers of this event, could see how more than 300 people from different parts of Spain, came to Huesca during the 10th and 11th of March to learn how to “hack” some stereotypes about women in fields such as technology or culture.
Tell us a little about yourself, what has been your education and work experience until your current job as Account Manager of La Colmena?
I started my studies in Industrial Design Engineering in Zaragoza, although the truth is that I soon realized that what I was missing was a more artistic side, so I decided to do Interior Design and Decoration at the School of Design of Aragon.
From there, I went on to do a master’s degree in decoration of shop windows, store spaces and retail. Then I went on to do advertising graphics, and it was then that I realized that I really liked branding and branding, in general to do the positioning of brands. When I was already working, I had the opportunity to study a master’s degree on branding and advertising media at ESDesing and an expert course on Branding and Brand Positioning at LABASAD, in Barcelona.
In 2013, I started with the personal project Palacino Creative Designer & Illustrator where I mainly worked as a graphic designer and web designer, this project evolved together with my 4 partners to La Colmena Agencia Creativa, something we are very happy with.
What I usually do here are the functions of Account Manager, but I also develop branding and digital marketing projects.
How was the process of creating your “own job”? What implications did it have for you to start managing Palacino Creative Designer & Illustrator?
Well, in the end it happened to me a bit like it did to my 4 partners, each of us came back from studying abroad and we realized that what we wanted was to start our own business in our hometown.
We wanted to try it from here, from Huesca, because we considered that not everything had to be in Madrid or Barcelona, and we said “well, let’s try it, let’s go back home and invent our own job”. In that sense, the implication it had for me has to do with a total change of mentality that led me to decide that I had to bet on something that I liked and that I wanted in my life.
Regarding La Colmena, what made you decide to take on this new project when you were already working on Palacino Creative Designer & Illustrator?
The truth is that La Colmena is a natural evolution of Palacio Creative Designer. Keep in mind that each of the partners had a company related to an artistic branch of the advertising world, and by combining clients and doing work together, we created La Colmena.
The creative agency has a collaborative soul, and the goal is to enjoy and work on what we like from our hometown, in that sense I think the name conveys 100% our philosophy and our way of working, so I am very happy.
As a female entrepreneur, was it difficult for you to make a niche for yourself in sectors such as graphic design, branding or communication?
Actually all beginnings are difficult, but in the end it depends on yourself, your attitude, your commitment and a great effort. The truth is that I have never felt out of place for being a woman, and our key at the beginning was above all the “word of mouth”, the fact that we do a job and the word spreads that we have done it from La Colmena. That has been our best marketing tool.
We have been working as La Colmena for almost 7 years, 10 years as a freelance, in all these years of life we have never advertised, it has always been the “word of mouth” and the result of having done a good job that has led us to another job.
We have been growing little by little, the first advertisement of La Colmena that I remember having done as such, was 1 year ago in Alto Aragón for some awards. They told us that we could put an ad in our section and we said “let’s put something related to our brand”, but nothing more.
What are the peculiarities that make Huesca the ideal place for the creative development of La Colmena?
And why wouldn’t it be an ideal place? I mean, I question everyone, that’s what I said, not everything has to be in Madrid and Barcelona.
The return to Huesca meant for us to claim the decentralization of such saturated and big cities in which our sector is concentrated. We believe that “from Huesca to the world, from Aragon to the world, and from anywhere to the world”. Whatever you dream of, listen to it and try it wherever you are.
Huesca is ideal, just like anywhere else, the difference is that Huesca is our city, and we want to create a healthy and collaborative business network. In short, we believe in the growth of our city, and we would like it to be so now and in the future. The question is, why not?
What can you tell us about the business and creative fabric of Huesca and Aragon in general? Do you think it is showing potential to stand out nationally or internationally?
Of course, I think that both in Huesca and in Aragon there is a lot of talent. There are agencies, studios and production companies of great renown that make wonderful projects, but I also believe that it is our duty as companies to offer jobs that make talent stay. Or at least, if they leave, they want to come back home, since that is the only way to build a collaborative, healthy and productive environment.
The truth is that there are many brands with which we work on specific projects, and with others we work on several projects throughout the year. There are brands with whom we sometimes only have one project, but that doesn’t mean that we won’t see each other again, far from it. There are also brands with which we collaborate on a regular basis, we are their agency.
In short, at La Colmena we don’t stop having contact with anyone, on the contrary, in fact we really like to be part of the companies and work side by side with them. In that sense, we always say that we work with our clients, because what we want is to make a team.
How did the initiative that has given rise to Huomantech 2023? Why did you choose Huesca as a place for the first steps of this project?
Well, Huomantech arises from a beer in early January in which we allowed ourselves to dream and believe that from Huesca everything can be done. In two months we set up a conference attended by women and men of all ages and from different backgrounds. In addition, we have held workshops, cultural activities, exchanged contacts….
In other words, we have touched on different areas within the world of culture, art and technology, always from an egalitarian point of view. We have tried to cover every point so that it would be inclusive, and so that Huesca would have the opportunity to do something different, a completely new proposal, always from the point of view of equality.
How was the reception of the event among the people of Huesca? Do you think it has been successful enough to ensure future editions in the future?
Well, in the end HuomanTech born from an event that already performs MujeresTech, a nonprofit association whose founder, Cristina Aranda oscense also, and that perform such meetings or conferences in larger cities like Barcelona, Madrid or Zaragoza.
We allowed ourselves to dream that it could be done in Huesca, then from La Colmena and together with the rest of the coordinators we saw that it was very interesting, we believed in the project, and we said “go ahead”.
It has clearly exceeded our expectations and has had a spectacular reception, more or less around 300 people have attended, and the event has fulfilled our objectives. Our mantra was based on hacking stereotypes and showcasing the talent of women in the areas of technology, creativity and culture, as well as making Huesca as good a place as any other city to meet people from all over Spain and share ideas.
For us it has been super exciting, because we have filled rooms with men and women of all ages and backgrounds, from people from Catalonia or the Basque Country, to people from Madrid and Andalusia. The reception has definitely been so good that we are going to repeat, of course.
What did you want to transmit with this event to all the attendees? Do you think you have achieved it?
Yes, I think we have definitely achieved it. The objective, as we have already mentioned, was to hack stereotypes and demonstrate that, as Eduardo Galeano said, small people, doing small things, in small places, can change the world. A premise that represents both Mujeres Tech and La Colmena and even a city like Huesca.
In addition to Huomantech, in what other projects or campaigns have you participated in recent years?
With La Colmena we have done a lot of projects, but I think the most relevant and for which almost everyone knows us nationally, is the project “Bracelets, tribute to the rival”, which we took it to La Colmena.
With it we got one of our most important recognitions, we got to be included in the short lists of the National Creativity Awards, in the C of C. Thanks to that we became part of the Creativity Yearbook of that year, which compiles the memory of the most creative advertising in Spain in 2020. This is one of the projects for which people know us.
And then, in Aragon, in Huesca, and also nationally, we can be known by “La Carrasca de Lecina”. There we also demonstrated that it is possible, with La Carrasca de Lecina we managed to be the tree of the year at European level, and that is like “Eurovision” but for the trees.
That campaign was carried out in collaboration with Huesca la Magia and, in fact, it would not have been possible if we had not worked with another company from Huesca such as Marketing Divertido, that is to say that the collaborative environment in which La Colmena was born is still the same. We try to collaborate with companies in our sector in Huesca, Zaragoza, or anywhere in the world wherever we go.
A clear example of this is that we are currently also the Hub of Brands in Madrid, which was also born with this spirit. It is a project in which we work with 26 agencies specialized in different areas related to advertising, we collaborate with them to access larger projects. And not only for the fact of working on larger projects, but also to be able to provide a service, because we believe that to do things well it is best to specialize, you can not do everything as well as you would like. To do this, join the best professionals, count on people who have the same desire as you, and you will surely achieve greater things.
What new projects are you currently working on?
Soon you will see them, it is true that we have projects at Aragón and national level, and well, some of them we can’t tell you about. But what I can tell you is that we are very happy, and that we continue from Huesca to the world.
If you could give some advice to all those entrepreneurs who are looking to make a niche in business, what would it be?
Well, I would give them several:
“Set yourself challenges and outline the possible ways to achieve them, if you don’t have goals, you will go like a headless chicken”.
“Listen and observe your surroundings because you have to be able to adapt, this world changes very fast”.
“People are the most important thing in a company, they are the main value, especially in a company that provides services, you have to take care of the talent and the team you surround yourself with, that is a mantra”.
“Customers can become great friends, adversity unites”.
“Attitude is infinitely more important than your knowledge, without attitude it is worth nothing how much you know”.
And that “commitment is not taught, commitment is either you have it or you don’t, and that also depends on you”.
In short, it is very important to treat others well and to stay with the people who make you dream, who make you grow, who add to you. But above all, the most important thing is that you don’t give up and that you fight for your dream.
What is your favorite corner of Aragon?
My village, Barluenga in the Sierra de Guara (Huesca).
And a restaurant we can’t miss?
Top 1: La Goyosa.
Top 2: El Origen.
Top 3: Villa Mexico.