Bati works exclusively with local artisans from Tobatí, Paraguay.
We met our lead artisan, Juan Carlos, through former Macchi School director Darren LaFrenier. JC has made gifts in the past for the annual Team Tobati community service trip in March, and is known around town as the El Mago de Cuero, 'The Leather Magician.'
Juan Carlos has run his family leather business for decades, and it was passed down to him before that. Aside from being completely enamored with everything we saw at his shop, we found out JC has a few relatives who study at the Macchi school. He was enthusiastic about our mission, and told us, Voy a hacer lo maximo para que tegan exitos, 'I'll do everything I can to help you succeed.' This really humbled us.
We hung out so much at the shop while we were in Paraguay in March and April that we became amigos with a lot of the workers. We picked their brain for leather care secrets, and laughed over asado and cerveza on Saturdays. JC's brother Ruben even drew an illustration of all of us when we weren't looking and likened one of us Yankees to the famed historical figure Mariscal Lopez. (link)
During our couple months down there, we developed an appreciation for the simple things in life. Our day to day consisted of working at the Macchi School with the students, designing and making bad-ass leather goods with JC & Co., watching futbol and drinking terere. At sunset, dashes of pinks and orange slashed across the sky like a Pollack painting. At night, there were so many stars that they seemed to drown out the black. Life was bueno.