This is Sergio.
He is 24, a new dad, and an incredible leather artisan.
Sergio makes all of the shoes for Kolt Handmade. At age 18 he started to learn the craft and has worked hard to reach the level he is at today. Since beginning he has even taught one of his older brothers (he has 12 siblings) as well. After having a store and workshop space in Pastores for several years his next goal is to expand and take his business to different areas in Guatemala.
I opened my first store in Pastores at the end of 2014. The shop right next to me was a boot store owned by Sergio. I was a total newbie at the time and needed a lot of help. I would run into Sergio's shop all the time asking if I could borrow a tool or get some advice. He was always so nice. In an industry where most people try to manipulate you or take advantage of your disadvantages, it was so nice to make a friend who was so trust-worthy and honest.
The quality of his boots were so far above everyone else in the area and we had built such a positive working relationship I decided to hire him to start bringing to life the designs I could not do on my own. Till this day he is my trusted shoe maker and I do not use anyone else.
Recently we spent a day in his shop in Pastores to watch his process. We watched for over 4 hours as he shaped and soled 1 boot. I knew he worked really hard to make every shoe perfect, but watching him in action but it into perspective for me. We felt like Sergio deserved to be introduced to our customers. We want our clients to know who is making their Kolt products and understand the impact they are having on the artisans lives. We also thought it would be super interesting to show you guys the behind the scenes the process of how our shoes are made.
After Serigo has all the leather and huipil parts sewn together he has to shape it and turn the materials into a shoe. This is done by using a last (the blue things). Every style of shoe as well as every size of shoe has a different last. The last serves as a mold and guide to shape the shoe around.
He nails a thick leather onto the bottom of the last and shapes it to fit perfectly around the shape. This will become the sole of the shoe and everything will be sewn and nailed onto it later in the process. He shaves away this leather with a knife and makes it look SO easy, but I swear it is not. I tried for about 5 minutes and couldn't even achieve one cut. You can tell he is a professional because he moves at the speed of light!
Sergio then cuts "celeaste" to fit inside the boot. This is a material that helps the boot become thicker and stronger. This material is awesome because it still retains its shape when damp and with heavy wear.
Once the celaste is glued in. The shoe can then truly start to come together. He starts with the heel. He carefully glues and nails the back of the leather onto the sole so that is lays flat.
Once the leather is place on the lasts and everything is flat and laying correctly it is time to sew it in. Sergio uses both hand and several tools to double stitch it from both sides.
He then places the leather sole on top, shaves it so it is the correct shape for the shoe, and starts to work on the heel so that the shoe lays correctly and feels comfortable to wear.
It takes multiple layers and careful shaping to ensure the heel is perfect and the shoe can lay perfectly.