Among the stands along Sagárnaga (a La Paz tourist street where Bolivian artisan products are sold) and the vast number of sellers, some artisan boutiques can be found where artisans start their own businesses once they learn their trade which gives them direct contact with their clients. Juan Viza, a leatherworker, is one of them, and he tells us his story.
“There are two of us in my workshop, my wife and I. We have had this shop for almost eight years and now have three shops along Sagárnaga.
“I first learned my trade as an apprentice in a shoe shop where I learned to work the leather by sewing some things by hand. That is how I began and then I started creating my own designs, making them and doing decorative engraving in the leather, etc.
“Sewing is the most important, especially sewing on the machine. After I decided I didn’t want to work for someone else, I decided to work for myself.
“I have my shop in my home where I work with my wife. Now we also take large orders, with and without aguayos, with or without decorations, etc.
“We have been working with Caserita.com for about five years. One day Giovana came to the shop and asked if I was the one who made the handbags and leather articles. I told her, ‘Of course.’ When she asked me whether we could work together, I told her, ‘Of course.’ Then she brought me new designs and we worked together.
“When they give us the design and tell us what they want, we do it. We make everything to order.
“We use genuine cowhide which we buy in La Paz and we use diesel to process it. This product helps darken the hide and gives it flexibility.
“We buy both handmade and machine made aguayo which we purchase and sew.
“We make some bags out of pure aguayo, without leather, as well as shawls, ponchos, ruanas, etc.
“Leather is our specialty, but we can sew anything. There is not enough time to make everything, though. For example, it takes an entire workday to make one leather handbag.
“A lot of what we sell is exported to Chile, Argentina and Peru, especially in Chile and Bolivia. We have varied high-quality products which is why we are in such demand.”
Caserita.com has been working with this talented artisan for many years and has total confidence in him. In spite of being a little reserved, Juan Viza admits to being proud of his roots and achievements, and he knows that, thanks to Caserita, he can sell his products on the other side of the ocean.
Check out products by ARTESANIAS YAHVE