Guatemala: the leatherworking trade in Pastores
They say that it was a priest who started the leatherworking tradition 35 years ago in this small town, just 7km from Antigua Guatemala. Today, the majority of its inhabitants make their living this way. Boots are Pastores’ standout handcrafted product, although, on its high street you can also find very reasonably priced handbags, belts and shoes.
Kolt means ‘art’ in Mayan Kaqchikel, and this shop has great youth appeal, selling handbags, wallets and earrings. Its owner Stefanie Richmond studied industrial design and now combines leather with Huipil fabrics from different regions of Guatemala.
“The hardest thing for me was to get them to teach me how to sew boots, because this town is run by men. They even asked me ‘What are you doing here?’” STEFANIE DE RICHMOND, owner of Kolt.
This shop sells mainly cowboy boots as well as special-order custom design boots. It also specialises in leather horse tack, which it can produce in just four or five days.
“I started working with leather as a boy, when I was eight. Most of the people here were shoemakers and my parents wanted me to learn a trade, so my father got them to teach me to make boots.” ORLANDO BARAHONA, owner of La Unión.
When Francisco Pablo Barrera started working with leather, he made boots at home and then visited several towns to sell them. Seven years ago, he started his own business – a cosy shop featuring all kinds of boots – on the town’s main street.
“First comes cutting, then a process called edging, and then the boot is put together.” FRANCISCO PABLO BARRERA, owner of Botas Barrera.
Tiendas del Rosario
In business for more than 18 years, this is one of the oldest shops in the village. Besides cowboy boots, fur boots, boots for women and for children, it also creates custom boots.
“People come here from all over the world. I get orders from the USA. At the moment, I’m fulfilling an order from Canada. I also get orders from Holland – they’ve got very big feet there and the boots have to be made to order.” Beni, owner of Tienda del Rosario.