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Moccasins For All

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Owner Jesse Aguiar.

Jesse Aguiar has been making moccasins by hand for over 40 years and he’s just getting started.

Four months ago, he opened San Agustin Trading Co. with his wife MaryAnn Aguiar. The retail store, located at 120 S. Avenida del Convento, features completely handmade moccasins in a variety of styles and colors.

Aguiar learned the trade when he worked for the Kaibab Courtyard Shops as a moccasin maker for five years.

“I took to it like a duck out of water. I just learned it really fast,” Aguiar said. “I was producing as many moccasins as the regular moccasin makers within two weeks, and that was unusual for most moccasin makers.”

Over the past 25 years Aguiar has been travelling to Native American reservations in Arizona and New Mexico to sell his moccasins.

“A lot of my business is done on the reservations. I sell 90 to 95 percent of my moccasins to the natives for their dances and ceremonies and different occasions that they need the moccasins for,” Aguiar said. “As far as moccasins are concerned with the natives, it’s not a luxury item. It’s a more of a necessity item and a traditional moccasin that they wear for their ceremonies.”

Aguiar makes a southwestern style of moccasin used by the Hopi, Navajo and New Mexico Pueblo tribes for their traditional ceremonies and dances.

Depending on the tribe and the dance, the moccasin he sells will be customized by the wearer to suit the activity by adding colored leather patches, fur and other details.

“When they dance, each group, they do their own designs and they put their own ties on them, so everything’s different for their dances,” Aguiar said.

Aguiar has a workshop on Meyer Avenue where he makes all the moccasins by hand, with the help of a few workers.

San Agustin Trading Co. sells over a dozen different styles of cowhide moccasins that can be made in over 30 different colors. The store also sells children’s moccasins, and custom orders can be placed too.

“A lot of people want something different,” Aguiar says. “If they can draw it, I can make it.”

While Aguiar respects that the Native American community has kept his business afloat all these years, he wants his moccasins to reach more people.

“They’re distinctive because they can be used anywhere,” Aguiar said. “They’re not only for traditional and native dance use, but they’re for urban use and for everyday use for anybody, not just Native Americans.”

Manny Salmeron bought a pair of the One Button style of moccasins from San Agustin Trading Co.

“I actually bought them because I went on a trip to Burning Man and I wanted something really comfortable,” Salmeron said. “I like that they’re comfortable, I like that they’re locally made and just very traditional.”

Written by Amber Gallegos You are reading Moccasins For All articles

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