The Mexico team of leatherworkers is comprised of five artisans from Chamula, Chiapas, lead by Elias. Although Elias had been working with leather since he was young, it wasn't until four years ago that he started his own workshop, producing higher quality products & more unique designs compared to the ones that Chiapas has been offering for years.
Now, all five artisans have stable jobs & growing income. They take care of their families & each team member is a crucial part of the business. Elias believes that as the business grows, so does their salaries because without each of them they would not have a finished product.
If you visit the workshop you will see them laughing at each other’s jokes, sharing ideas & working with a smile, sometimes with their children around. They have dreams of spreading their work around the world.
Preparing the Leather
The raw leather is washed & lightened with quicklime and water for 2 to 3 days. In Chiapas, quicklime is used for cooking corn, building their homes & making their products.
The leather then goes through a smoothing process where they peel coats of leather with knives - all by hand! The leather then stays in water for another couple days & then goes into inspection so no fur or blemishes are left.
It goes through a last round of rinsing & then dries in the sun until hard. Overall the whole process takes around a week.
Once it's ready it goes through a stretching process so that its manageable & depending on the type of leather needed for each product it might go through different stages of thinning - all by hand.
Cutting, assembling & sewing
Now that the leather is prepped, it's time to cut the pattern pieces that will be assembled into each bag.
The assembly of each bag is a labor of love. The details are carefully hammered into the leather into the design pattern the artisan chooses, making each embossed handbag truly one of a kind.