Sabah is growing and we are so excited to announce the opening of our second workshop, located in El Paso, Texas. Three years in the making, the El Paso workshop officially opened in April 2022 with our first El Paso made products slated for release in early June.
With ten years of being in business right around the corner, it was time to expand, to establish a new facility that celebrates craft and people in the making of high quality goods and with the same values we've stood by in Turkey. We wanted a place that could also be a laboratory and innovation hub — for the testing of new materials and the creation of new silhouettes to collaborate with design partners from all over the world and simply to tinker and test. We wanted the new Sabah workshop to complement our amazing craftspeople in Turkey, for there to be dialogue, sharing of ideas, and a fusion of skills, crafts and talents.
We searched far & low for our second home with a focus on wanting to manufacture in America, close to our largest customer base and Sabah HQ. We decided on El Paso, for many reasons, and because we found it shared many of the same characteristics as Gaziantep, Turkey where our original Sabah workshop is located.
El Paso, like Gaziantep, is a border town with a history of trade, craftsmanship, and cultural exchange. Amongst many things, El Paso has a rich history crafting leather goods and cowboy boots. Making a cowboy boot by hand employs many of the same techniques and skills required to produce Sabahs & Babas. When we first visited in 2019, we were blown away by the talent we encountered.
Accordingly, El Paso is full of generational craftspeople, just like Gaziantep — many of which have seen a decrease in work as cowboy boot making, apparel production, and general manufacturing has moved across the border or overseas, and as the demand for handmade shoes has declined around the world. In addition to the seasoned veterans, we found El Paso was full of young people eager to work & learn. We need both, just like in Turkey - this workshop will be a place for folks to come and learn a craft.
Over several trips to El Paso beginning in 2019, and many meetings and conversations, we came to believe there was a great opportunity to replicate and expand upon the work we’ve done in Turkey.
So here we are... excited for what's to come and to bring you along on this journey with us.
Scroll on for a visual tour of our El Paso workshop – some of the people, and the details that make it what it is.
Thank for you being here with us.
A beautiful setting results in beautiful work. We wanted the workshop to look and feel Sabah — featuring custom shoe racks made in Mexico with Sabah Blue details and lots of peg boards around the space to provide inspiration and direction.
The process of making shoes involves a beginning, middle and end. Within each of those stages is a master craftsperson at work.
Some of the highest level tasks performed at the El Paso Workshop include cutting and evaluating the leather, hand lasting and trimming of the soles, and the stitching of the sole to the upper.
One of our prized possessions at the Sabah Workshop is the McKay Stitching Machine. Today it is rarely used in shoe making but you’ll find it in most repair shops. This machine attaches the sole to the shoe using a lock stitch method, which means they won’t unravel.
We’re especially excited about the product innovation and special collaborations that will come to life in our El Paso Workshop. Xochitl, pictured below, is a local artist and a master at staining and painting leather. We’re fortunate to have her on the team!
We have some of the best talent in our Workshop — all masters in their field.. Built from scratch, this team has enthusiastically come together — playful banter and all!
This is Ricardo — he started his career as an apprentice shoe maker at thirteen and has been working in the industry ever since. Ricardo is very focused and can sit for hours… we recently bought him an hourglass to make sure he gets up and walks around every hour, like clock work!
Pictured below is Bryon and Daniel. They knew nothing about shoemaking before joining the Sabah team in El Paso, currently apprentices learning day by day — eager and optimistic!
Meet Jesus, who worked for years as a boot maker, paid by the pair. For this, Jesus is very fast and very talented, but we’re slowing him down… We told him speed is good but quality is more important. Jesus is a hard and organized worker, setting out all his tools at night for the next day. He’s a joy to have around.
At our El Paso Workshop we are able to import leather from all over the world. The saddle leather in particular, is manufactured in a famous town in Spain, the same that Louis Vuitton uses on the trim of their bags. El Paso has enabled us to utilize materials from all over the world.
Thank you for following along! We look forward to soon sharing more Sabahs, Babas and other goods, "made in El Paso"!