Accessories made from vegetable leather – for the sake of the planet

Initial vocational education and training
A delicate scent of fruit emanates from her – her earrings – but also from her wallet. Gaby Yovanovic carries her money wrapped in strawberries, her cell phone is wrapped in plums, and other items in her bag are made of papayas and kiwis.
Gaby Yovanovic

Frucuero, a biodegradable leather made from fruit peel

Trained in the Textile and Clothing Industry, Gaby has created an innovative material to design accessories with: Frucuero, a completely biodegradable leather made from fruit peels.

This material makes it possible to reuse everyday food waste. It was created by Gaby and her partner Rocío while they were training at the Pedro Domingo Murillo Industrial School, together with their teacher Felipa Yana.

"We asked ourselves: 'What do we do with so much waste? How can we help (environmental care) in a real way?' and that's how Frucuero was born," says Gaby.

Finding the right formula

Within less than a month, Gaby and her team collected fruit peels from homes, markets, and juice stands. They processed them until they found the right mix. The team had to determine how much washing, grinding and drying of the fruit peel was needed to get the desired outcome. Making mistakes is necessary to learn and so the path to finding the perfect type of drying and the right temperature and texture was filled with experimental trials. Each step was duly measured to create an environmentally friendly and useful textile that could be manafactured into different kinds of accessories.

According to Bolivia's National Institute of Statistics (INE), for 2020, 56% of waste in the country is organic matter, and each year the largest amount of all solid waste comes from households, followed by markets.

"Instead of the waste going to the landfill, we can reuse it and make small accessories that are practical."
says Gaby, who is processing the bookings of her products.

Thanks to her idea, Gaby received a degree for excellence. At the Pedro Domingo Murillo Industrial School, innovative projects representing the school at departmental fairs have the chance to earn a degree. Effort and creativity are rewarded and, even more importantly, teachers accompany the students in their creative process.

"It was an experimental project with trial and error. Our teachers have been very generous in giving us tips, in sharing what they knew and so that we could come up with a recipe."
Gaby Yovanovic 
Gaby wasn't afraid to venture into a new field of work

A versatile product

The project allowed Gaby and her team to create – depending on the fruit used –leather of different shades and aromas; you can feel the fresh hues of each flexible fruit, but firm enough for products such as wallets, purses, bags, and earrings.

Before starting her training as a senior technician, Gaby was a psychologist for children with disabilities. It was three years ago that she began to move towards a different career path:

"We are often afraid of what people will say, but the fear is just in our heads (...) The good thing about fabric is that if you make a mistake, you can unpick it and redo it."

The Professional Technical Training project in Bolivia is an initiative of the Swiss Agency for Development and Cooperation (SDC), implemented by a consortium of Swisscontact and the FAUTAPO Foundation and in the mentioned territory by CEMSE-CEE.

2018 - 2022
Initial vocational education and training
Professional technical training Bolivia
The focus of the project places special emphasis on job integration for young people between ages 15 and 24 in the labor market, by focusing on skills development through professional technical training in Technical Technological Institutes and Alternative Education Centers, within the framework of the current public education policy.Only 73% of...