Jose is probably the warmest man in Guatemala, and the whole story of SempreArte begins with him. Jose is the manufacturer and designer of our shoes and women's wallets. When we ran into his shop in December 2017, we fell in love with his products.
As he says, despite the fact that his whole life now consists of designing shoes, he was born into a family where many times there was not enough money to buy shoes. Jose comes from a village 20 km from Antigua, a village whose inhabitants specialize in the production of leather shoes. Some shoes are of good quality, others of poor quality, others, but due to the lack of education, producers are unable to take their products outside the village. Jose's life would have ended similarly if not for the fact that at the age of 6, secretly from his parents, he went to school. He sat down in the last bench to hide from the teacher. He didn't have any books or uniform, which caused the rest of the class to make fun of him. Outside of school, he practiced writing on the ground with a stick because he didn't even have a pen. When he finished elementary schooling, it seemed that his education would end there, but one day the teacher came to his mother and begged her to let Jose continue his education and support his education. The parents agreed. Jose quickly found a job, selling tortillas outside of school. This made it possible to cover school costs and also support the family. Over time, when he was older, he also worked as a bricklayer, waiter and gardener. People from the village pointed out to him that he was too ambitious, that he followed his dreams too much, but he did not give up. In the end, he says, thank God, he graduated in accounting. After graduation, he got a job as an accountant for one of the companies in Antigua. There he learned how business works, sales techniques, marketing and finance. It also changed his life. With the money he saved, he decided to open a workshop in the village and a shop in Antigua. He was aware that people in the village have great talent, but they don't know how to use it, they can create amazing products, but they don't always care about quality, they create the same products, they don't develop techniques or designs. He wanted to help them. He began designing shoes and handbags by weaving huplies (traditional colored blouses, hand-woven by Mayan women) into the leather. This is also how he secures jobs for the women of his community. He pays special attention to quality, teaches his employees the same, teaches them to develop and be creative. His next dream is to create new jobs for Guatemalans, develop their talent and share their art with the world. He believes that even this child without shoes can help the world.