Fernando Garcia is the name behind the bags’website and the man physically behind the counter in ‘La Tienda Chica’ in Grazalema. He made his first bag 25yrs ago but has been working professionally now for more than 15 years, selling them in this beautiful Andalusian village where he has lived since 1999. In 2011 he ‘moved with the times’ and extended this to selling on-line.
The following is a short clip from a German TV documentary ‘In the Land of the White Villages’ . You can see Fernando ‘at work’ in ‘La Tienda Chica’.
When Fernando abandoned his stressful job in Madrid and came to the area he brought with him his uncle´s leather-working tools. He´d chosen to live in a place ‘famous’ for its leather-working traditions and so had full and easy access to tools and top-quality animal hides. He started small, selling from home and craft fairs around the provinces. Then he obtained the shop in Grazalema and now he runs a very successful business which supports his family.
Hasn´t Fernando tired of 15 years doing the same thing?
“ I never do the same thing! I never repeat a design for a bag. I go down to Ubrique to buy the hides… I look at them, smell them, feel and handle them. Then the ideas are sown. Every hide is different so every piece which comes from that hide is different. All my bags are unique. When I´ve used a pattern to cut out a bag I throw the paper away”
Surprisingly, coming up with so many original designs is not a chore.
“I think the design process is so relatively-easy for me because I love living in this rural environment, I love my family life and I love making bags! As I said it all begins in the leather wholesalers. Then the ideas take root and shoot into life at home.I don´t find it difficult to think of new designs. The ideas just flow… over and over again.”
During the years Fernando has made thousands of bags and has sold them to people from all over the world. He believes that his success is largely due to the 100% ‘hand-made ness’ of his work.
“There exists much misuse of the term ‘hand-made’. Unfortunately, (in the leather industry in this area) it´s often used to mean ‘I´ve used my hands to work a sewing-machine or a cutting-machine’. My bags are truly hand-made… you can see for yourself there are no machines in my workshop!”
If you buy a bag you can be guaranteed that not only is it unique (no-one else but you has one!) but it´s also made 100% by-hand. You are supporting a traditional trade, part of our heritage, which is falling into disuse like so many others. If you buy from his ‘Organic’ range* you are also buying a bag made from naturally-tanned leathers, un-corrupted by chemicals and synthetic products.
All in all a very sound investment. A beautiful quality-made piece of work, designed to last and give pleasure for Life.