When Isabel Jaramillo’s father emigrated from Colombia to the United States in the late 1990s, he had one goal in mind – to continue being a hardworking, successful businessman.
He brought his company, Cima & Sima (which imports and distributes mostly Colombian beauty products) to the United States and slowly but surely began to turn it into a profitable business with the help of several family members.
But this past week, the Jaramillo family was dealt a devastating blow when they discovered that, on top of the already difficult business atmosphere they faced due to the economy, nearly $10,000 worth of products had been stolen from their warehouse in West New York.
After working a late night putting orders together for deliveries, Oscar Jaramillo and his son Luis Felipe were shocked to return in the morning and discover that their warehouse on Kennedy Boulevard had been broken into and a large portion of their products had been stolen overnight.
“For some businesses, that may not be much,” said Jaramillo. “However, for my family business, this could be it.”
“For some businesses, that may not be much,” said Isabel. “However, for my family business, this could be it.”
One product at a time
When the Jaramillo family arrived in this country they first settled in West New York and eventually moved to Elmwood Park. Within a few years of getting accustomed to his new surroundings, Oscar Jaramillo was ready to bring his business skills to his new hometown.
“He started with just one product,” said Isabel. “It was a cream for razor bumps. He was driving around with boxes in the trunk of his car and started to have customers here and there.”
After about a year, Isabel’s brother joined in, and soon they were utilizing Isabel’s sisters’ basement in Elmwood Park to store the product.
Business grew rapidly, and they moved their goods into a warehouse and officially began the company in December 2008.
With distribution all over the New York metropolitan area, including up and down Bergenline Avenue and in Jersey City, anywhere in Hudson County would have made sense for a central warehouse location.
But Isabel said the family chose West New York because the diverse neighborhood was where they set down roots in the United States.
The scent of home
The products imported and distributed by Cima & Sima are “sentimental products” with unique scents that remind immigrants of home, such as Arrurru baby shampoos and lotions.
“As a kid, I remember my mom putting that on me,” said Isabel.
Though they began with mostly Colombian products, over time the business has added similar items unique to Mexico, Puerto Rico, the Dominican Republic, and other Latin American countries as a result of customer requests – everyone, she said, is seeking the scents from home.
Though many people try to bring such products into the country illegally, Isabel said that Cima & Sima works closely with the FDA to make sure all of the ingredients in their products are safe and approved by United States standards.
Seeking help from community
With such a particular item stolen that only certain people would have an interest in, Isabel said her family feels that whoever took the products knew exactly what they were looking for and most likely knows the family business intimately.
The Cima & Sima office is not separated from the warehouse, and it’s easy to see the inventory available just by walking in the door.
“We’re thinking it’s someone who usually comes into the business and knows what we do,” she said.
Though it’s upsetting to think that a close relationship may have led to the theft, the Jaramillo family is also hoping that might be what helps them get the items back.
“Our customers know how we work; they know we’re just trying to make it,” said Isabel. “Whoever did this probably knew who we are and knew what we’re about. I don’t care about the people who did it. We need the merchandise; that’s the only way we’re going to get the money back.”
Although the family has insurance for the business, Isabel said it’s not big enough to cover the loss.
Their only hope now, she said, is to get the word out and hope that vigilant customers will keep an eye out for the stolen products on the street.
There are not many businesses that import the products that the Jaramillo family works with, and one of them – the Arrurru “Bano Feliz” set (100 percent of which were stolen in this week’s theft), is exclusive to Cima & Sima.
Police investigation ongoing
Police Director Albert Bringa confirmed that a report of the theft was filed by the Jaramillo family with the West New York Police Department on Sept. 15 for approximately $7,600 worth of goods.
Bringa agreed with the family’s belief that whoever took the items must have known specifically what they were taking and where to find it.
The investigation is ongoing, and his department is currently conducting interviews related to the matter.
As for the Jaramillo family, they are already back to work – led by the work ethic of patriarch Oscar Jaramillo.
“My father’s the type of person that will always keep working,” said Isabel. “He was shocked and he was bummed out [about the theft], but I asked him ‘What are you doing?’ and he said, ‘Working. I have to start making things happen somehow.’”
Anyone with information about this case should contact the West New York Police Department at (201) 295-5011 or call the anonymous tip hotline at (201) 295-5047.
Lana Rose Diaz can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.