After an unexpected encounter working with leather, Rafael Batrez, Jr., discovered a passion for a new hobby and his leather-working business was born. T & L Leather has since grown from a simple avocation into a well-known brand. Batrez credits the support from the Sun City that pushed him to continue to grow his brand to what it is today.
“I started this as a hobby, and from there, it built into a brand naturally, and I didn’t plan to get this far,” Batrez says. “But the people of El Paso have been really nice to me and it allowed me to keep going as I wanted to.”
Initially starting out in drafting engineering, Batrez graduated with a degree in audio engineering. After much success and opening his own recording studio, Batrez decided to take a chance at something different. His first project was a leather belt for his son, who influenced part of the name T & L Leather, also known as Timothy & Luke.
Now almost five years later, Batrez finds himself taking the next big step: growing his brand. Making every piece by hand, he begins by cutting the leather, embossing his logo, and sewing each piece by hand before cleaning up his final product. He then shifts to marketing, where he preps the material to be sold online or at local farmer’s markets. Taking a little more than two hours to produce one single all-leather handbag, T & L Leather provides top-quality, long-lasting one-of-a-kind products to all of their customers.
Batrez prides himself on being a self-taught artisan. Teaching himself to sew and work with leather, he finds examples of what he’d like to make and modifies it to match his brand — using his experience from draft architecture to construct all of his products. Batrez believes that’s how his design differs from other leather designers.