Hello! Welcome to Silver Hand, and to our first Journal post. Our names are Erin and Isaac Tarectecan. Before digging into all the qualities of what makes Silver Hand our pride and joy, it seems like a good idea to paint a pretty good picture of who we are, and why we do what we do.
We met at a coffee shop in the mountains of Colorado, and knew almost right away we wanted to live our lives side-by-side. Isaac was just getting into leather working, and Erin was diving into the world of specialty coffee after gaining a degree in culinary arts.
Other than being passionate about our respective trades, our interests never really crossed paths. Coffee and leather aren’t typically cohesive elements, and their industries are very different. Still, we had something in common - the belief that we could do more with our trades than just make a living.
Everything changed when we took out first trip together to the Philippines, where Isaac's parents grew up. The land had been in the family for centuries - it was the land of the Ibaloi tribe, and as the only son in his family, this land now belongs to Isaac.
This is not something that we take lightly. Visiting Baguio City was the turning point and realization for us that we needed to take an active role in the history of this land, and figure out what it looked like to commit to the culture there.
Fortunately, one crop that grows exceedingly well in the lush, high-altitude jungle of the Philippines is coffee. We recognized immediately that there was a way to tie a passion for coffee into a viable use for the land.
We met our agronomist Valentino Macanes of the Benguet State University on that same trip. He held all of our answers - the Philippines has been cultivating specialty coffee varietals for the last several decades and studying their growth. He supplied us with additional knowledge of the land, soil, slope, and the seedlings we needed to get started. Less than a month later, the land was cleared of debris and ready to fertilize.
In June of 2016 we began planting of our coffee farm on two separate plots of land in the Cordilleras. It was a family affair, with all of the cousins, aunts and uncles hauling bags of fertilizer and truckloads of seedlings up the hills. We were up to our knees in dirt. We planted for hours. It was incredible and exhausting, and it rained on us a lot.
Our plan for growing coffee on this land is twofold. We hope to reforest land that the government has seized, and to return it to agricultural use.
Our second hope is to provide jobs for our own family members, as well as victims recently recovered out of human trafficking in need of a skill-based trade. These women are a part of an organization in Baguio City that provides formerly trafficked women with jobs and education. By planting the farm and building a processing facility, we hope to provide well-paying jobs for these people, many of whom are cousins, relatives and friends. Eventually, we hope to serve this coffee to you in a cafe of our own.
In the meanwhile, to fund the farm, farmer’s wages and processing facility, we turned to Isaac’s trade: leatherworking. After several years of trial and error and endless prototyping, Silver Hand was born as a bag company with a purpose.
Because we’re so passionate about what we do, our standard for both leather goods and specialty coffee is very high. Beyond the quality, we believe that our jobs carry weight - with them, we can do something bigger than us.
In the end, when we got married, so did our jobs! We’re working together as a couple and a team to bring beautiful products to you, and consequently, help our community overseas.
Of course, this whole vision has been both thrilling and terrifying. Trying to explain a coffee/leather collaboration is sometimes difficult work. Trying to navigate politics in foreign countries can be frustrating and impossible. But seeing the ancestral land turn into green hectares of coffee seedlings is beautiful, and spending time with the welcoming Filipino culture has been life changing.
Rather than just try to make a difference, we’re dedicated to changing the lives of the people and community we’ve grown to love.
Anyway, that’s the short story of who we are and what we do. Keep following our adventure right here, or follow us on Instagram to stay updated! We’re stoked to keep bringing the adventure to you, and are grateful to have you alongside us.