Handcrafted by Harl’s is a micro social enterprise based in San Pedro, Laguna put up in 2014 by Harley Dave Beltran to provide employment to people with disabilities (PWDs).
This homegrown brand makes unique and functional handcrafted genuine leather products such as bags, coin purses, smartphone cases, gadget organizers, clocks, stools, bow ties, belts, sandals, slippers, key chains, tags, wallets, and other customized items.
Harl’s handcrafted items are often sold and exhibited at regional and national trade fairs and bazaars conducted by the Department of Trade and Industry (DTI), where it started to become recognized as maker of leather products with high-grade craftsmanship.
During these events, Harl’s staff, who are differently abled craftsmen, also conduct leather crafts workshops where guests can create their own wallet, coin purse, and other leather goods.
Things were going good for the micro social enterprise until the pandemic hit, causing the business to close one of its stores.
“I had to unload the ship for it to sail further. To put it simply, I needed to let go of one of my stores. I needed to prioritize what’s best for the company and for my employees,” Beltran said.
He used the quarantine period to think of ways for his relatively new enterprise to survive. One idea took off and it kept his team of craftsmen busy doing what they love doing.
Harl’s started crafting unique face masks called Maska. It is made from leather and ticog mat. Ticog is a wild grass harvested and made into mat material by Abre Linea weaving community in San Miguel, Leyte.
With soft leather and ticog mat combined into the design, Maska is a unique looking face mask which makes the wearer look incredibly cool, masculine, and standout from the crowd.
According to Beltran, Maska doesn’t just provide safety but also comfort and durability because of the materials used. A purchase of the unique face mask will not only feed one PWD family, but will also support San Miguel’s weaving community.
Harl’s takes pride with their products that are purely and skillfully handmade. What sets it apart from other leather brands is how it uses waste materials and genuine full grain leather to create upcycled products.
To give more character and uniqueness to the products, Harl’s leather goods have distressed features such as visible natural leather markings, a few scratches, discoloration, or burn marks. All these are crafted proudly and dexterously by differently abled workers who are either mute, deaf, or cripple.
DTI CALABARZON Director Marilou Toledo hails Harl’s bounce back story as “very remarkable.” “We hope that his experience will help our micro, small and medium enterprises (MSMEs) to be inspired to move forward and start the process of putting their businesses back on track. We, in the DTI, and with our programs and activities for our MSMEs want them to be ready to embrace the new normal.”
Harl’s offers purely handmade products promoting the advocacy of sustainability. This is in line with its social responsibility to the community, which is to provide employment to those who are deprived due to lack of education or disability.
Beltran said his intention in putting up Harl’s was really to empower the PWDs. The inspiration to establish a social enterprise came from meeting one of his staff Ronald who was in a wheelchair. Every time he would see this person in his village, he would give him money. Until the day came when Ronald asked to be trained to be a leather craftsman.
“Four years ago, my intention in putting up this business was to empower the PWDs. Now it’s their turn to empower others by sharing their knowledge and ability in leather crafting. I also hope that I’m able to inspire other businessmen to do this kind of business model.”