"If you think about it, a good quality leather belt will remain with you longer than any shirt, shoe or dress. Imagine the stories our belts could tell about us if they could only talk!"
"My father taught me the basics about working with leather. We made a handbag for my mother, then wallets and moccasins. I learned more through my research on Internet and books, but most of what I now know comes from experimenting.
"I'm Karl Friedrich Muse, from Maryland USA and my father, who was an artist, taught me how to craft lamps, build model airplane and fix cars. We were always making things with plastic and balsa wood. Growing up with such a creative father taught me how to look at things from different perspectives, and to be self-sufficient.
"My mother, who was German, taught me and my sisters how to make dresses, blouses and sweaters. I learned how to sew a hem, buttons on a shirt, and so many other things.
"I had a hard time seeing my dad slowly develop Alzheimer's and not be able to communicate his thoughts or finish a sentence. It broke my heart. To this day it is still hard to remember it even though he passed away some years.
"But life goes on and three events in my life put a smile on my face: witnessing the birth of my children and first grandchild. These were by far the most meaningful events in my life – the ones that had a major impact on me. Nowadays I work to ensure they become productive citizens and have them be proud of me.
"I learned to work with leather when I was a child. Leather fascinates me. It is durable and has so many uses. If you think about it, a good quality leather belt will remain with you longer than any shirt, shoe or dress. Imagine the stories our belts could tell about us if they could only talk!
"One day I was stuck in heavy traffic. I had recently lost my father and he was constantly on my mind after his death. I remembered something my father had given me when I was a boy: a belt very similar to the ones I now design. When I got home I bought some leather and I tried to make it.
"The following week a friend saw it and asked me for one. Then another friend requested one. Soon more friends asked for belts and eventually I quit my job and dedicated myself to making belts full time.
"I must admit, mistakes were done on my way to achieving the high quality that my products now boast. My friend Delcher helped me out a lot when I first started. I really appreciate all that he taught me, for there are many techniques that are not written in books that master tanners zealously keep them to themselves.
"We moved to Peru on account of my wife's job, as well as for the opportunity to continue making my belts with the best quality leather available. We have since made of Peru our home.
"I only use vegetable tanning, which uses natural plants and tree bark to create the colors. This is the most ecological leather. I work directly with a tannery that makes the tanning according to my specifications. They do so through a technique called 'crossed dyeing,' which results in a more consistent and lasting color.
"I love the fact that I do not work in an office where there are strict rules, two weeks' holiday and a mean boss. The second thing I like about my craft is that I have made over 6000 belts and that people around the world are wearing them. They live in faraway places I'd love to visit one day.
"My wife is also my business partner. We worked together when I first started. She would cut the leather, make the labels and take care of marketing. She is an English teacher and she often helps me by correcting my grammar when I'm writing.
"Should somebody else design for me, they would have to have the same work ethic as me. They must have a good eye for detail, develop an aesthetic sense and be a creative problem solver. It would also help if they had a good sense of humor!
" A sense of humor has helped me overcome the most difficult challenges I have faced in this venture. Without it I would have gone mad. This is important if someone were to work with me.
"I'm offering the world of fashion a different and unusual accessory. Many seek something unique, but not all find it. When they go to an event they meet people dressed in a similar way – or even exactly like them.
"On the other hand, my belts are original and environmentally safe. It is safe for me to work with this leather since I am not exposed to dangerous chemical substances. They are also free of nickel and other metals."