Wearing it well
New Canadian’s pet collar company gaining traction
When Jorge Garcia and his family members arrived in Winnipeg after immigrating from Mexico last December, they arrived during a blizzard.
Now, almost 10 months to the day, the Bridgwater Trails resident is surrounded by countless fragments of striking colours as he talks about the handmade cat and dog collars he sells.
Garcia is the proprietor of Wicha Handmade, which specializes in selling artisan-made collars for dogs and cats. The cat collars also double up as bracelets for humans, too.
The creations are currently available at the Forks Trading Company and the Winnipeg Humane Society, and Garcia will also be appearing at a number of craft sales and markets in the run-up to the holidays. This includes appearances at St. Norbert Community Centre on Oct. 29, Centre culturel franco-manitobain on Nov. 5, Linden Woods Community Centre on Nov. 6, and Transcona Country Club on Dec. 10.
Garcia — a student at the University of Winnipeg — works in collaboration and partnership with an Indigenous Mayan peoples called Tzotziles, that are based in the central Chiapas highlands in southern Mexico, who make the collars and bracelets. Many of the collars and bracelets are made with animal-friendly, vegan leather and feature a buckle so they can be adjusted for size.
“The Mayan culture is huge,” Garcia said, noting it consists of many small cultures and groups under one umbrella.
Because the creations are made by hand, each one is unique, Garcia said, noting the variety of designs means people can match them precisely with their dog or cat’s personality and size.
Reflecting on his own journey from Mexico to Canada, the 49-year-old said the business mirrors his own life in some ways — not least because it’s a tribute to his family’s pet dachshund, Rocky, whose passage to Winnipeg had its own challenges because of the logistics of cross-border animal travel.
“When you’re an animal lover, your pets become very much part of the family,” Garcia said. “For my wife and I, it was a big decision coming here, and we wanted to spread some of the Mayan culture here. I feel that it’s important to spread a bit of your culture where you come to.”
Simon Fuller is a reporter/photographer for the Free Press Community Review. Email him at firstname.lastname@example.org or call him at 204-697-7111.