FACT: Organic cotton still represents only a tiny fraction of the global cotton crop, about .02%.
FACT: In 2007, 303.2 million scrap tires were generated. Currently, 500 million scrap tires are in scrap tire piles across the US.
FACT: Textile and clothing employment in Ghana declined by 80% from 1975 to 2000; largely in part to American donated clothing.
FACT: An estimated 350 million shoes are thrown out in the US each year, most of which are made from synthetic materials like ‘vegan leather.’
FACT: Kibera is the largest slum in Nairobi with a population of over 2.5 million people and a 50% unemployment rate.
FACT: Our artisans have been taught tips are tricks via cobblers in Milan, pattern-makers in New York’s Garment District and cowgirl braiders in New Mexico.
FACT: 33 million primary school-aged children in Sub-Saharan Africa do not go to school. 18 million of these children are girls.
Most of our classic shoes are made using Kudu leather, an animal byproduct resulting from a government mandated culling due to overpopulation. Much of the meat is sold at local markets or donated. We also regularly use Nile Perch, Springbok and Rabbit, all of which are sourced from local farmers in Kenya and South Africa and are entirely byproduct from the edible food industry. We utilize as much of every skin as possible and reserve scraps from our adults shoes for our Brother Minis—our line of
Know Your Farmers
We hold many relationships with the farmers who supply our goods. Whether it’s the sheepskin used in our slippers sourced from the mountains near Lake Nakuru, or Hornback Crocodile from a family farm in South Africa, its important to know your farmers and take responsibility for the origin of
Vegetable dying minimizes the harmful effects of chemical dyes on the surrounding environment. Much of our leather is dyed using the vegetable process—70% of our fall/winter collection in fact. We use indigo to hand dye the organic cotton used on our sandals as well as saffron and madder to color other components. Every one of our shoes has a vegetable dyed natural leather insole.
We use the best practices and materials possible to try to make what we think of as ‘forever shoes’. We believe that good quality leather shoes are an investment that should be thought of and worn as a long term purchase that will last our customers many, many years. We believe that the natural marks and scars on animals who lived in the wild are their own fingerprints and should be cherished. Therefore instead of discarding those pieces as most others do, we carefully position them on the inside portions of our shoes. Many of our styles are produced only on a made to order basis as to not accrue excess inventory or put undue stress on our farmers. Also, our shoes can be easily re-soled once their original soles have worn through, further extending their lifespan.
Reduce, Reuse, Recycle
As we look to expand our product line, we’ve searched far and wide for sustainable practices and materials that we can further integrate into our workshops and designs. Most recently we have been utilizing overages of donated denim in Morocco and using that recycled denim on locally made shoes. We also use recycled car tires as the soles on many of
Relying on local artisans within Africa to craft each shoe, our workforces are entirely local to each of our workshops. They receive fair wages and skills training from other experienced artisans. Empowering people within Africa by giving them jobs instead of handouts is the best possible way to ensure long term growth and development on
Our teams in Africa are composed of men and women of different ages, tribes, religions and sexual orientations, our workshops strive to create a working environment free of discrimination and judgement. Our New York office is based in Brooklyn and consists of a small, passionate team hailing from different parts of the Globe. We are proud to be one of the >0.5% of US companies with female, African-American CEOs.
Most of the production process for our shoes is done by hand, ensuring that only a limited number of machines are required on premises. This keeps our energy consumption low and our employment
Many of our beads are made out of ostrich egg fragments and sea shells. We source beads from West Africa and the Czech Republic, and a bone artisan in the Kibera district of Kenya handcarves specialty byproduct bone beads for us as well. Many of our bead artisans in Kenya are single stay-at-home moms who bead during the week in their houses and drop off finished items on the weekend.
Utilising additional artisans who are local to the neighborhoods and towns of our workshops is a priority whenever possible. Recently, we’ve been working with a brass artisan in Kenya who hand-casts our sandal buckles from recycled brass padlocks and keys.
Our limited edition socks are knitted by stay-at-home wives who are empowered to earn an income, in many cases for the first time in
Many of our artisans have children supported by their work in our workshops. In South Africa, we work with a local school and use a portion of our Brother Minis sales to help support the local
When it comes time to ship our products from the workshops to our head offices in New York, we schedule large batch cargo shipments in order to reduce our carbon footprint.