Jaime Gutiérrez lives in El Quisco, next to the sea. A treasure trove of objects are scattered around his workshop and right in middle there is a sign saying “Salmon leather”. This is the name of his business, where he spends his whole day working on the skin of this fish. From his nimble hands, bags, shoes and accessories appear. Since his imagination is boundless, he sometimes mixes it up with other types of materials.
Jaime started his enterprise in 1975, in the region of Melipilla, where he had his shoe workshop. But the avalanche of Chinese, Japanese and Brazilian shoes that flooded the Chilean market several years ago hurt his trade so much that it forced him to close down his workshop and start again.
This he did in the coastal region of El Quisco. He moved there with his wife, to a workshop in an attractive house with a maritime feel. That was six years ago, and he joined Fondo Esperanza after three. “I learned about it from a friend who crafts things in leather”, recounts Jaime, who was happy to form part of the lending group "Creciendo Juntos." “I wanted to meet new people”, he explains.
When he joined the institution, his business was already up and running, “The reason for joining Fondo Esperanza was my business, to share experiences with new people. Fondo Esperanza helped me strengthen the weak points in my enterprise, with the capital I needed to acquire more material”. His years of experience have strengthened the business that he shares with his wife, who is also part of the business. “She makes the rings and appliqués that we combine with the leather”, he goes on.
Jaime works tirelessly: he buys the leather, dyes it and shapes it on the lasts to make good quality and unique shoes. He checks that the stitches look right and that the fit is comfortable. His small company is growing steadily. “My next stage is to bid for some regional funding to expand the business. We want to make some display cases so that we can exhibit products in different places”.
His imagination does not stop here. Jaime’s dream is to create a village of craftspeople in Algarrobo, “to leave a legacy for tourism in the area”. Although he is already aware of his achievements, particularly that of being able to run a business in a region far from the capital and with a much better standard of living. “Fondo Esperanza does a great job in supporting people. Entrepreneurs have to join forces; it can be a springboard in their lives”, he concludes.