"Despite the enormous hardships of war, it was amazing to feel the happiness and creativity of those around me during those days of sadness and desolation, and you can't put a price on that."
"I'm honored to say that I've been involved in handcrafts throughout all of my life. I'm Piedad, from León in Nicaragua. In my family there are musicians, artists, and painters, and above all, there are people in my family who are impassioned about what they do, which I believe is the greatest legacy I could inherit.
"My dad got involved in the art form I now practice in 1974, when he got together with some associates to start a tannery workshop. I inherited a passion for leather goods and handbags from dad, who was a master artisan. I took design courses in Nicaragua and Mexico, and now I'm involved training an artisan collective who specialize in leather work.
"Every day I see myself doing what I love to do, and it fills me with great satisfaction, for there is no greater feeling than seeing people grow in front of my eyes.
"I still have some leather pictures that I made with my father back in the 1980's – they're hanging on my wall since I never wanted to sell them. I studied accounting and finance at university, but my interest for this art form continued to grow, slowly absorbing me until it grew into a passion for the world of design.
"I decided to open my own workshop and I went to Mexico to take some courses in leather art. I bet all of my time in designing, materials and tools, and I won the bet! Now my designs have found acceptance in Nicaragua.
"If you were to ask my friends about me, they'd probably tell you I'm trustworthy, disciplined and that I enjoy teamwork. So when I look for new artisans to join my team I look for people that are enthusiastic and willing to learn.
"I've always been entertained with the different ways by designs or sketches have been interpreted by different artisans! It has also taught me about the importance of the ability of being able to interpret visual data or spoken instructions. The results themselves are a great reflection of a good communication.
"I was born in Nicaragua and I decided I continue living here and contributing to my country. I lived and experienced the horrors of the 1978 war and then I experienced the change from a market to a centralized economy and back again. Despite the enormous hardships of war, it was amazing to feel the happiness and creativity of those around me during those days of sadness and desolation, and you can't put a price on that. It has made me get closer to my country and to be able to forge ahead despite the circumstances.
"My inspiration comes from the comments people buying our designs have to say. I'm inspired by everything that surrounds me, what I read and what I see in the media, art fairs and social events. I find inspiration when I walk in silence barefoot on the beach or standing in a coffee plantation under the tropical rain. This is how I recharge my batteries so I can continue forward.
"My biggest dream is to found a school here in León specializing in leather art and design, since it would offer younger generations an opportunity to study in Nicaragua instead of having to go elsewhere, like I had to do when I went to Mexico.
"I sign my work as PYA for Piedad Aguilar, and I include a vintage bicycle
to symbolize the use of age-old ways we use for working with leather.
"I sincerely believe that our work has inspired other generations who are discovering the generous opportunities that leather work has to offer in Nicaragua. This fosters a healthy competition and direct, productive job opportunities. Above all, it would contribute to the progress of our great and beautiful country."