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|| Leather craftsman ||


When I arrived in Canada, I started working as a cleaner. “I make $7 an hour,” I thought. “There must be something else I can do.”

— Jorge

When I was a kid, my family had a leather business. Everyday I watched the men and woman work with sewing machines. I made my first girlfriend a leather jacket. It was a cowboy jacket. When I came to Canada, I also worked as a carpenter. I would finish at 4pm and think, “now what can I do?” For nine years I did nothing but read and plan and ponder all that I had learned.

When I arrived in Canada, I started working as a cleaner. “I make $7 an hour,” I thought. “There must be something else I can do.”

I heard construction worker could make $35 an hour. I look around. One guy gave me a chance, so I went with it. I am very happy in Canada and am thankful to those who made it possible for me to live a full life here.

A coin purse made by Jorge (
Coin purse (

This year I bought a machine. I wanted to do something more, and sewing comes naturally to me. It’s in my blood. I spend almost tend grand on my machines. Then something happened in my country. I have two daughters there and my mother to support. The money is always short.

With smaller pieces of leather, I can make purses, bracelets and other accessories. I am saving money so I can purchase bigger pieces. For 100 square feet, the leather costs around 200 to 300 dollars. When you have the materials, the more you can do and the inspiration will come.

Did you always want to be an entrepreneur?

Just here in Canada. I got married in my country a long time ago. My ex-wife had a child with someone else. That is the reason I am here today.

When you bend the leather, it’s very thick. One of my machines can sew 5 mm. To design a purse, it can take a week. They are not always perfect. I notice the flaws, so I refine my designs and stitches. Some people sell plastic or fabric bags for $140. Maybe they have a nice pattern or details, but they don’t showcase any sewing skills.

A purse made by Jorge (
Handmade leather purse (
Do you have a goal in mind for your practice?

My dream is to launch a store. Now, my work is just a hobby. I come home at 4pm from my construction job, and that is the only time I have to work on my leather products. I may have some free time, but then again, but what kind of business starts at 4pm?

Is there a place in Toronto that you feel connected to?

When I was a teenager, my family travelled across Chile every vacation season. I hoped to find a bigger city than Santiago, our capital. We never did. The years passed and then I came to Toronto. My god. This is the city of my dreams full of colourful lights, materials, streets, shop windows, cars… All of its corners offer something special. I love The Beaches because it brings the water and city together, blending shops, restaurants and nature.
I don’t have a favourite restaurant, because if I went there every day, I would have to spend the rest of my life finding all the other savoury nooks in this city. When I lived in an apartment with Italian, Polish and Hungarian neighbours, the smells that rose through the building were all similar; hints of garlic and oregano, mostly. It smelled like my mothers cooking.

Leather bracelets made by Jorge (
Leather bracelets (

Portrait photos: Toronto Beaches

Want more? Visit Jorge’s website