Ahhh. What a luxurious aroma! Like coffee. Gun oil. Cigars. Wood polish. Pine. Citrus.

Today was fortuitous as a chance encounter renewed me with hope. As it happened, I wandered into a leathergoods shop that I hadn’t been in but one time when I first arrived in Sahuayo.

I had only ducked into the shop because I saw a leather bag hanging in the window that was assembled by handstitching. Very artisanal looking. Then I met Erika. A young woman who is perhaps the only other person that is possibly more passionate about leather than me. (She actually knows how to tan leather and has produced some of the finest leather I have ever seen).

It turns out that she just got back from 4 years in Europe where she trained at Louis Vuitton and did some other leather design work in Spain (as in how to make/tan leather). Some of the stuff she showed me – buttery rich leather, cool small bags – had me positively beside myself with excitement.

I told her I loved her. I might have been laughing when I said it but deep down I meant it. Really. She not just gets leather, it is to her like the best material out of which to make tons of different things. She showed me some very  interesting sketches and examples.

I rushed back to the house  – coincidentally just around the corner – to fetch some of the stuff that I’ve been working on. I showed her some of my bags, sandals and shoes. I guess I didn’t totally embarrass myself because she agreed to do some work with me.

She told me Mexican’s wouldn’t buy her bags because they were too expensive. I told her briefly about the presentation that I gave to the Ministry of Economy last year in which I tried to explain to them how Mexico needed to resurrect Leon’s 400 year old heritage of quality leatherworking and go after a slice of LVMH’s $20B luxury goods market.

Tomorrow morning we are going to start work on a leather tote together. We are going to handstitch it together and she is going to show me how.

My sister who lives in California recently emailed me to tell me that artisanal leather bags might be an easier sell than sandals. So for that reason, Erika and I are going to start with our version of the ubiquitous tote.