Cristina Guerrero's aunt used to manage a traditional shop in Malaga's historic centre, selling fans on Calle Nueva. The shop was opened in 1958, and upon her aunt retiring, Cristina decided to continue with the tradition, which holds on to its significance even today, especially in the months from April to September.
The fan is many things at the same time; it is used to battle the heat, it is an accessory, and it is also a symbol. Despite also working on other business lines these days, the fan continues to be special for Cristina. The owner of Ceylan Málaga is insistent that the fan is not an accessory of bygone days, and she herself makes sure to customise the fans in order to ensure that they keep with the fashion trends of today. Cristina redesigns the aesthetics of the fans according to world trends each year.
"The retirement of my aunt resulted in the loss of a business which allowed you to choose the fan you wanted and to ask for advice. Prices ranged from six euros to whatever you were willing to pay," explains Cristina, who saw an opportunity to continue the artisan trade which remains popular generation to generation.
Cristina has had to face several challenges along the way. Owning a shop in the historic centre which has forgotten the importance of supporting local trade has not always been easy. Nevertheless, Cristina remains steadfast in her defence of such businesses, claiming that they give a city its identity and the attention given to customers in such shops cannot be beaten. Cristina is thank ful to customers who have remained loyal to her business for decades. "At times, we are like a family. Customer treatment is personalised and we end up talking about everything. It is important that customers trust in you and your ability to advise them and choose the right accessory for them," Cristina continues.
"Fans are used a lot in Malaga, just like in any other place with a hot climate," she explains. And there does not seem to be a set target market; as many younger people as older people enter the shop in search of a fan. In the case of Ceylan Málaga, customers are often looking for something more than just a fan: an accessory for an important day, perhaps a wedding celebration or a communion.
"It's because of this that we sell more fans during the high season. Not only is it a question of temperature, but summer is also the season for celebrations, especially weddings," says Cristina, "Customers ask me for advice, since the fan has to go with the outfit they have chosen."
Celyan Málaga had to migrate to 3 Calle Marqués, a street close to the San Juan church. This is one of the few areas in Malaga's historic centre which still supports traditional businesses. Cristina enjoys contact with the customer most about her job: the ability to advise customers and the satisfaction they get when they see the final result. "People have more confidence in you than in a larger shop. It is another way of understanding business, and one that should be protected and not lost."
In keeping with her defence of traditional trade, Cristina entrusts Malaga's artisans with the production of the fans sold in her shop. "They bring us a collection of samples in September or October and we choose the ones we like the most and sometimes ask for a few design changes to be made," Cristina explains. "We adapt them according to fashion trends. For example, this year has been the year of nude pink and International Klein Blue."
Those are the latest trends, but Cristina also sells the classic shades which never fail. "Our business is very exclusive; not many shops that sell fans exist. Our shop comes with more than 3,000 fans. If you're looking for a specific colour, you will find it here. It's this, alongside our close relationship with the customer, which differentiates us from competitors, allowing us to survive as a traditional business in the historic centre," says Cristina.
She recognises that the change of address from Calle Nueva to Calle Marqués meant starting from scratch, but emphasises the power of word of mouth, something which has "solved the problems of this type of trade".