Artisan Organization: Abel Rios
"I have been crafting fine leather products since the age of 16. Initially, I began by helping my older brother Hector in his leather workshop after he asked me to come to work for him. With my older brother's generous and providential offer, I learned the wonderful art of leather work ‚Äì a craft that continues to fascinate me and consume most of my days.
"When I was 23 years old I decided to become an independent artisan. I opened my own workshop in my home. Fortunately, my work has gained considerable popularity, and I greatly enjoy the responses that I continue to receive when people see my creations.
"These days, my work consists of cutting, embossing and engraving fine leather with a distinct style and skill that you won't find in many workshops. I design many beautiful Inca and colonial motifs, and emboss those upon the leather. I sell some of my work locally to art shops, but am especially happy and proud that my designs are now being seen all over the world.
"Before I began to work with you, I had my workshop in the back patio of my home, with no floor, surrounded by the chickens we raised to feed our family. I didn't have the necessary tools. I am proud of what I have achieved during these recent years, all thanks to you.
"Today, I have become a prosperous small businessman, and my children are educated professionals who work with me. Since I began working with you, I¬¥be been able began to sell more and to expand my line of designs. This permitted me to better care for my family, and to invest in my workshop.
"In time, I was able to rent a house nearby, where I moved my furniture crafting business. I bought equipment and my workshop began to grow. With more orders and customers, I was able to hire helpers, improve my designs, research new techniques, and use better raw materials, always working hand-in-hand with you. Eventually I bought the house I had been renting. Three years ago, I bought the land next door, where I built a new three-story workshop.
"My son is now 25, with a degree in business administration. My daughter Daisy is 21, and is finishing a degree in accounting. They both help me now. I began my art at the age of 16, and am now 50.""