The Colombia of the early 2000s was nothing like today. Growing up in a country that was recently transitioning from 50-year conflict to a more functional society was challenging for both children and families. Ricardo Ballen and his family were no exception. Born in Medellín, Ricardo grew up in his safe-haven family home in a place where much of Colombia's underlying essence resides: the countryside. Here, where most Colombians first found our love of nature and passion for crafts, Ricardo also rode a horse and learned about carpentry, agriculture, and tradition.
It was these intricate values that later accompanied him as he pursued a degree in Product Design at IED and the Istituto Marangoni in Milan. However, because most of this academic experience was based on a more industrial approach to design, he later returned to Colombia to work at a renowned textile company that would eventually provide him with unique business tools to build his own.
During her time back in Colombia, she also reconnected with an artisan she had worked with while horseback riding. Originally in charge of developing custom equestrian accessories in rawhide and bold hardware, this skilled man was now working with Ricardo on some functional bags at the request of his then-girlfriend, now wife, Carina. The “Cari Bag”, still present at the Ballen today, was soon a success. Orders came in from friends and family and this, along with his continued fascination with leather furniture, led Ricardo to return to Italy to study leather goods and pattern making, thus becoming an ArSutoria "Pellettiere" alongside the best in Italy. . It was after this that Ballen was born.