Fashion

Nisolo: Designing a future with Trujillo’s master shoemakers

Susana Aguirre
Originally published in An Extra Shot

The brand based in Nashville, Tennessee is uplifting talented shoemakers from Peru’s northern city of Trujillo.

Nisolo: Designing a future with Trujillo’s master shoemakers

(Photos courtesy of Nisolo)

This article was originally published in the September issue of An Extra Shot. To enjoy the entire issue for free, download your e-version here.

“Peru will always have my heart and will always be the backbone of the business in one way or another,” says Nisolo co-founder and CEO Patrick Woodyard. His and Nisolo’s connection to Peru, specifically Trujillo, runs deep. Though the lifestyle brand, based in Nashville, TN, now produces leather goods in Leon, Mexico and jewelry in Nairobi, Kenya, its inception came to be because Patrick, working a micro-finance job at the time, came into contact with some of the northern city’s talented shoemakers.

Known as Peru’s Shoe Capital, Trujillo, especially the district of El Porvenir, is home to thousands of shoemakers who specialize in producing handmade leather footwear. Back in 2011, the vision was clear: recognizing their entrepreneurial spirit and superb craftsmanship, Patrick knew that connecting these low resourced yet highly skilled artisans to the international market would drive growth and create impact.

people
(Photos courtesy of Nisolo)

Nisolo as a business model is driven by a commitment “to ethical production and the well-being of its producers,” states Patrick. Equally vital is the desire to deliver “excellent product with superior design and quality.” For him, these two principles should be basic pillars of any business. Yet, as we know all too well, the fashion industry is one of the most polluting and exploitative in the world. “The industry desperately needs critical, creative, and innovative brands that pledge to fill that demand and make a positive change.”

In order to bring Nisolo to life, Patrick enlisted Zoe Cleary who became co-founder and VP of design after having worked in the fashion industry in New York. The task at hand was how to marry the exceptional skill-set of the shoemakers with designs that appealed to an international and style savvy audience.

mules
(Photos courtesy of Nisolo)

As they continue to grow and produce new silhouettes for their footwear line, which currently creates jobs for more than 70 people in Trujillo, Nisolo’s mission only strengthens. According to the company, employees see an average of 161% income increase since starting to work for the Nisolo. Apart from a stable income, employees receive health insurance, paid time off and other benefits.

Willan, whose home-based workshop would become the catalyst for Nisolo after a visit from Patrick, is now the company’s Materials Manager. Trujillo’s shoe industry has been struggling for years, increasingly so with the mass import of cheap synthetic shoes; despite being a third generation shoe craftsman, work used to be irregular for Willan. Thanks to what he earns at Nisolo, now he has been able to solidify the roof and walls of his home, and provide for his children to go to school.

Nisolo in Spanish means not alone (Ni solo). Fittingly, Willan is just one example of how a commitment to producing and consuming responsibly can change lives.

Nisolo
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This article was originally published in the September issue of An Extra Shot. To enjoy the entire issue for free, download your e-version here.

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