The Maison SOLER in the National and International Presse

The Maison SOLER in the National and International Presse

In Cantal, Jorge Soler sublimates ostrich skin, a unique know-how in France. Find an AFP article taken up by the main media.

By afp 16/10/2019 at 09h00

An air of Spain in a small corner of Cantal: with his singing accent, Jorge Soler is inexhaustible on the tanning of ostrich skin, a precise and delicate know-how that he is the only one to master in France.
His “showroom”, installed in the former nursery school of Neussargues-en-Pinatelle (Cantal), a village of 1,800 inhabitants, is as unusual as the character.

When he pushes the door, the visitor comes face to face with an imposing stuffed bull which sits in the middle of a room where the skins of cattle rub shoulders with the heads of deer and other horned animals displayed on the walls.
Because Jorge Soler, who arrived from Barcelona in 2008, is also a taxidermist.
First settled in Nîmes (Gard), this bullfighting enthusiast finally joined Neussargues-en-Pinatelle where he acquired a workshop next to the village slaughterhouses. He continued his taxidermy and tannery business there.
Then the adventure began in 2017 when an ostrich breeder offered him to try his hand at tanning this highly sought-after leather that the big luxury houses often bring from South Africa, the world’s leading producer of these birds. For a year, he “messed up” several skins, “a disaster”, he remembers. But he perseveres until he achieves an impeccable product, without a hitch.
The warm 50-year-old with a salt-and-pepper goatee proudly shows off a clothes rack where several shiny, pearly ostrich skins are neatly arranged.
About one meter on a side, these luxurious leather squares in various colors are used for small leather goods or watch straps. They can be decorated “to measure” affirms the Barcelonian.
– “Metal-free” dye –
“Ostrich skin is a very delicate and at the same time very resistant leather. The most complicated thing is to manage to do a manual, artisanal defleshing (remove the flesh), without breaking the pimples – the pearl of the skin as it is called – which support the feather”, he explains.
These pimples give the skin its pearly appearance, characteristic of ostrich leather.
“The risk is to make holes, the skin is then unsaleable” according to him.
In the skinning room, open to the four winds – it is down to -7 degrees in winter and impregnated with a pestilential smell, the first step is therefore to rid the skin of its thick layer of fat.
With a knife, Jorge Soler – boots and large white apron skilfully cuts the pieces of flesh to separate them from the skin, stretched out in front of him on a wooden instrument that he himself made, from a trunk of sanded shaft, fixed to a metal support.
Then head to the fullers, large wooden barrels rotating like mills to tan skins.
Verification of the PH, dyeing, regular monitoring: the actual tanning represents “between eight to ten hours of work. We get up in the morning, in the evening and sometimes at night” says Olivier Tible, one of the three employees of “Maison Soler”.
The dye powder is guaranteed “metal-free”: no chrome, no aluminium. And the small company has embarked on the construction of a “zero toxic discharge” treatment plant which should be operational in 2020.
“From the raw salted skin to the finished product, it takes about a month and a half, two months of work,” assures Mr. Soler.
Now, a dozen breeders wishing to promote short circuits call on him.
But he aims to sell his finished skins directly to leather goods, highlighting the “made in France”, or even to produce small leather goods himself. “We have the capacity to manufacture 2,500 to 3,000 skins per year,” he says.)

La Montagne - Oct 2019

La Montagne - Oct 2019

Ostrich leather highlighted

Ostrich leather highlighted by Jorge Soler in Cantal

The only ostrich skin tanner in France, Jorge Soler chose Cantal and Neussargues-en-Pinatelle to highlight a unique and sought-after know-how. Meet.

Jorge Soler is inexhaustible on the subject. “I met ostrich breeders all over France to offer them to enhance the skins and produce French! “. Originally from Barcelona, ​​Spain, the 50-year-old opened his taxidermy and tannery workshop in Neussargues in 2016.

“A little over a year ago, says the craftsman, an ostrich breeder entrusted me with about twenty skins to make leather. » It’s the click. But also a long road strewn with pitfalls before reaching a convincing result. Because the defleshing technique, consisting in removing the flesh and fat still present on the salted skins, is complex. “You have to have a hand. More exactly, the “stab”.

There is no machine to perform this precise gesture. Jorge Soler tans and gropes, learns, thinks and manages after a year of efforts, and failures, to obtain perfect pearly skin. The satisfaction is immense, and for this entrepreneur at heart, an additional motivation to develop his SME with three employees: La Maison Soler. (The skins arrive salted, for conservation.) If taxidermy and osteology, at the origin of his arrival in Cantal and the creation of the workshop supported by the Department, Hautes Terres community and the municipality, remain lucrative activities, they are nonetheless restricted. And the tannery is currently only supplied with the skins of sheep, goats and cattle entrusted to it by professionals.

Jorge Soler therefore sees in the ostrich skin the opportunity to take a crucial step in the growth of his company. Coming out of industrial tanning workshops, most of which are located in South Africa, ostrich leather is a top-of-the-range product, prized by the biggest luxury houses. Leather goods, shoes, sedan interiors… This flexible, delicate and resistant material offers a unique finish that was no longer produced in France. Till today. Driven by the desire to tanner and produce leather in France One, then two, then three owners of ostrich farms, whose meat is intended for consumption, called on his services, driven by the desire to have the leather tanned in a short circuit and in France.

“Currently, the skins are bought at very low prices and go to China. “Le Cantalien wishes to promote this raw material and negotiate prices with ostrich breeders until it produces French leather “and creates a French quality label”, he announces. From tanning to dyeing, including treading, the craftsman now controls the entire manufacturing process and has become a service provider for his French customers. And he wants to go further. “I can buy and tan pearled ostrich skins, up to 2,500 per year, to market the very high quality leather directly to the big luxury houses. »

To achieve this, La Maison Soler is investing €98,000 in the creation, in 2020, of its own “zero toxic waste” wastewater treatment plant, insists Jorge Soler, coupled with that already in operation at the Neussargues slaughterhouses. Ambitious and thoughtful, Jorge Soler has the cards in hand to win his bet and save a know-how which, without him, would have fallen into oblivion.

David Allignon