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Leather Exports?

Cotacachi is famous for leather products and has been for many years. This is a small town, or rather large village of more or less 6,000 people depending on how many surrounding communities you want to include in the poll.

Making and selling leather products is the main industry and provides the most employment for the people who live here. The main commercial street, Diez de Agosto, is lined with one leather boutique after the other. Some of the stores are just retail outlets while others have workshops out the back or even separate workshops on the outskirts of town. There is even a leather workers training institute here which I’ll visit one day. Long term readers of Gary’s newsletters will know that I have written about the fine handmade leather cowboy boots that you can be measured up for here but cost just a fraction of the price they would sell for in the U.S.

What many that come on our import export courses get to learn is that the best way to create value is to create a new product rather than just re-sell existing products. When it comes to leather my mind boggles at the possibilities – any valuable item needs a protective pouch, how about a leather pouch for the new Apple Ipod phones just out on the market at this moment. Long lines are forming outside shops in the USA as I write.

There is even talk of hysteria! How many of these will be bought this coming Christmas and how many people would love to boast a smart leather case for them. Do you doubt that’s possible? Not me!

Take Juliana’s idea. If you can’t create then at least adapt. Juliana, an executive accountant working in the public sector recently attended our Superlearning/Spanish tour and stayed on at El Meson for a few more days. She has a favourite designer backpack, made from non-natural materials, that all her friends just love to death. It has a zip all the way down the side and that means that all the space is useable. Not only that, it has supremely adjustable straps and even a little pouch for a makeup mirror not to mention innumerable pouches for credit cards. Juliana says that the company makes a leather version but it is expensive and just badly made.

She set out to have a better version made here in Cotacachi. I introduced her to Paco Morales and lo and behold! Almost as if Paco waved a wand an EXACT replica was produced just a few days later. Juliana cradled it in her hands and marvelled at the workmanship, the attention to detail. “I can’t believe it but it’s better than the original” exclaimed Juliana. The cost for the sample was $75 but Paco estimates he can make in quantity for less than $50 and we are talking a designer product here. See the photos below.


The Original Bag


Side by Side


The new export quality bag


Juliana’s joy!

Join me for the upcoming Ecuador Export Course
July 17 – July 22, 2007 Tues – Sun.
See http://www.garyascott.com/catalog/impex