Ecuador Boots and Saddles

We are busy preparing for our upcoming Ecuador Import Export Expedition and Steve Marchant researched boots and saddles for us. Here is his report.

“Being new to Cotacachi, it’s a delight discovering the nooks and crannies associated with a small town. One of the things I like about small towns is that they lend themselves to discovery in a way that big cities don’t.

There very smallness gets me searching, there’s a finiteness that isn’t apparent in a big city.

I already knew that Cotacachi is the town of leather makers and sure enough you can find workshops and boutiques crafting and selling everything from sturdy belts, fine jackets, ponchos and hats to hand-crafted, personalized saddles – everything that is, except shoes. How could that be? What gives?

Didn’t you just know it. The boot-maker was tucked away in a nook just waiting to be discovered by me, or it could have been you. At the door of a non-descript corner building overlooking the palm-tree lined Plaza San Francisco, a second beautiful square here in town, I was greeted by Consuelo Sandoval. She ushered me up a steep flight of tiled steps to the 4th floor. There, I was met by an intriguing site, a hive of activity and a complete boot and shoe workshop in a space of, at a guess, 500 square feet. It is light and airy with windows along 2 sides of the room, Imbabura volcano dominates the skyline on one side. Ten workers are all sat at various stations and everywhere there are boots at various stages of finish. Beautiful, hand-crafted boots, stitched patterns on the sides of cowboy boots, soft leather from Ecuador and Colombia, calf’s hide used to fill in horseshoe and star shaped patterns that have been cut out by hand.

Fausto, Consuelo’s husband, starts to tell me he has been doing this for the last 30 years since he was 15. Yes – he could use more machines. No – he doesn’t copy other suppliers; he prefers to go for niche markets where the big boys can’t compete. I get a thorough resume of the market – he supplies local shops, colleges and sometimes sells door to door. Sure he says, he could export if someone would come ask him. How much? $60 wholesale for the sturdiest best finished cowboy boot I have ever seen, complete with Harley Davidson buckle on the side. $28 for a ladies ankle boot, all leather uppers, sole and interiors – they would not be out of place an off duty model strolling down the Via Montenapoleone in Milan. With a little bit of notice he could export 400 of these a month. New designs I ask? No problem but there would be a 300 minimum order as the moulds are Colombian and are expensive. Plus a new design brings new work such as strength-testing and new patterns, he adds.

Meanwhile, a polishing machine whines in the corner as one of Fausto’s workers makes sure the heel on a ladies riding boot has perfect shape. One last question before I head back to El Meson for Santiago’s delicious scrambled egg breakfast; How many different designs do you have Fausto? Oh, that’s easy he shoots back, 94 styles of boot and 30 styles of shoe.”

How about saddles? There are wonderful saddles for sale in the village at very low prices. Two delegates told me they were so beautiful that they bought two even though they do not ride!

We will look at boots and saddles during our upcoming import export expedition.

You can learn more about how Steve can help you

Join Merri, me and Steve Marchant for our Ecuador Import-Export Expedition. We only have one place left for this course!  DETAILS

One the investing side, there are so many interesting real estate opportunities here for those who keep looking. Our friend Joe Cox was visiting over the Easter holidays. Easter morning was bright and sunny so we hitched up some horses and rode up the mountain to look at a 200 + acre parcel for sale (at about $1,000 an acre asking). Here, Joe and I enjoy the view of Cotacachi in the valley below.

Today’s health tip comes from a Shaman who lives high in the Andes and offers a spring cleansing tonic that will keep your skin and hair fresh, clean and glowing. The cleansing is delightful and works inside and out! Take six packets of camomile tea, six long cinnamon sticks and a handful of black cardamom. Boil them thoroughly in a couple quarts of water. Set aside a cup or two to drink. Dilute the balance in three to five gallons of water as hot as you can stand. Get in a bathtub or shower. Sit in a meditative pose, relax and slowly ladle cup after cup over your head and entire body. When through, do not rinse or towel dry. Let your hair and body dry naturally. You’ll feel clean with a warm glow, smell like apple pie and your skin and hair will shine!

Enjoy drinking the tea as much and often as you like. This is a sweet, gentle secret that you can enjoy anytime, anywhere.

You can enjoy this delightful purifier during an R & R at El Meson. DETAILS

Until next message may your boots and saddles take you far!

Gary