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Local Woman Producing High Fashion

Local Woman Producing High Fashion
October 05
09:56 2019

Friday, October 4th. –

Early every morning, single mother of four Patricia Molina, 42, of San Ignacio Town gets up early to get her house chores out of the way and send the children off to school so that she can start her daily routine of transforming rawhide into leather and then into fashion.

Molina grew up playing inside her father’s tanning facility as well as watching him go through the process of leather making, the end product which he would then use to skillfully produce handmade saddles, scabbards, belts, purses, wallets and gun holsters. The elderly role model has spent over thirty-years crafting and even repairing leather in Belize and has grown popular among locals in the western municipality.

Growing up in such a traditional family setting, it came as no surprise that Molina would love the art of leather making, and five years ago she decided that she would partner with her father to learn the family trade. Last year, fueled by the need to become her own boss, Molina officially registered Belize Custom Leather as her own.

According to Molina, over the past year her business has grown considerably and she has even gotten the support of two of her children who would spend hours laboring beside her in their small kitchen and veranda helping her to produce handmade leather items.

In an interview with the Reporter, Molina explained that she buys the raw cow and sheep hide from local farmers in Spanish Lookout. At home, Molina would then soak the hide in white lime for a couple of days. Molina explained that this process is known as the curing process, and the white lime is used to preserve the leather and strip it of excess flesh, hair, oil, germs, and dirt. After it is taken out the hide is then scraped on both sides using a sharp object. It is then placed into clean water and left to soak for a few days. Then comes the process in which the hide is soaked in dye before it is manually ironed out, and then placed to dry and the process is completed.

According to Molina the entire process is tedious and takes about a week to complete. She confessed that “to work with leather you have to have a passion and have to love leather because it is very, very hard work. Its time consuming and it takes a lot of effort and patience. You really have to love leather to work on leather.”

Using the leather, Molina will then cut out patterns of her choice depending on what she is making, whether it be purses, wallets, belts or key chains. She then hand sews them, which is equally time-consuming. Luckily, her father recently bought a sewing machine which makes the process much easier.

Molina told the Reporter that after her products are completed she posts pictures on various social media accounts in an effort to attract local and international customers. The remainder she would deliver to a resort in San Pedro and sell at the local market-days in San Ignacio. From time to time she would also attend expo shows.

But is the local entrepreneur getting the support from Belizeans? She says no, and explained that the majority of her sales trickle in from tourists who are impressed that the products are handmade in Belize.

Molina told the Reporter that locals would complain that the price tag is too high, even though she tries to explain the high quality of her work and the effort and time invested. One of Molina’s bags or purses can cost between $40 Belize dollars and $600.

While Molina says that she has plans to tap into the international market, she explained that it would be a point of pride if locals would support and appreciate her business venture. After all, she is trying to survive and provide for her family.

Molina can be contacted on Facebook or Instagram account under Belize Custom Leather.

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