Customer service might be Ivan Tellez’s middle name. When we first met Ivan, he carefully described each of the great wooden pieces he was displaying for us that night. The problem? They were beautiful, but he only had a one or two of each. The bigger problem? We only had one more day in Managua. In the end, that was no problem for Ivan: “How many would you like?” he invited. The answer: As many as he could make!
In just 24 hours, Ivan proved that he is not only a great woodworker, but also a good businessman, with the understanding of how to ramp up quickly. Late the next night, sitting outside the Nicaraguan KFC-equivalent, Tip-Top, Ivan’s reserved smile began to shine as we inspected what he’d been able to do in just a day.
Almost bashfully, Ivan talks about how he always wanted to be a painter. However, for the last nine years, Ivan has been finding ways to highlight the natural features of the wood that he shapes. Nearly all of his products use calm, cool stains and varnishes to emphasize the natural grain. This ability to highlight the natural beauty of the wood is matched in skill by Ivan’s ability to repeat it – to find a plank, and extract 20-30 identical earrings, bracelets or bowls out of it.