To us, ethically made means that we offer all Nisolo producers beyond fair trade wages, benefits, and a healthy working environment. We wouldn't be able to do any of this without you. Your support enables us to create opportunity for over 500 people across our three different modes of ethical production:
- Our Factory -
Our first mode of ethical production is through our own factory. The idea for Nisolo was born in 2011 shortly after Co-Founder & CEO, Patrick Woodyard, took a development job in Trujillo, Peru. Patrick met a community of shoemakers who possessed remarkable talent yet struggled to reach global markets.
With a desire to support these artisans and producers like them around the world, Patrick set out to challenge the status quo of the fashion industry. He was soon introduced to Zoe Cleary, a designer who was turned off by years of experience working with multi-billion dollar fashion companies that demonstrated little concern for the people in their supply chains. After meeting the shoemakers in Peru, Zoe decided to quit her job in New York and join Patrick in establishing a brand that would care first and foremost for the wellbeing of its producers.
In order to accomplish this vision, Patrick and Zoe partnered with the initial Nisolo shoemakers to begin building a dream factory from the ground up. Fast forward a few years, and our facility is now supporting the livelihoods of over 350 individuals.
Our shoemakers receive paid vacation and healthcare for themselves and their families. Employees on average have experienced an income increase of more than 140% by working with Nisolo. In a region of Peru where only 25% of employment is in the formal sector, we offer formal contracts to all of our employees (all 18 and older!), guaranteeing stable employment year-round.
We believe in holistic development, which is why we offer skills training, health, nutrition, English, physical education, and even yoga classes to our employees and their families. We also offer regular financial literacy training, which has led to more than 95% of our producers being introduced to the formal banking sector for the first time in their lives.
We are deeply passionate about the long-term effects of our partnerships on the next generation. Whereas only 16% of our shoemakers were able to finish high school because they had to work to help provide for their families, 100% of our shoemakers’ children are in school, and 6 of them will soon be the first university graduates in their families.
In the next year, we look forward to hiring with a stronger gender focus (currently, 30% of the workforce are women) in order to provide more jobs for women in our factory. Additionally, we look forward to strengthening our relationships with local universities in order to provide independent study opportunities and weekend classes for our shoemakers.
- Partner Factories -
Our second mode of ethical production is through championing existing factories whose ethics and core values match those of Nisolo. Currently, we are partnering with factories in León, Mexico. All of our partner factories offer formal employment to their employees, access to healthcare, and paid vacation. 100% of employees in our partner factories are over the age of 18. In addition to receiving wages far beyond fair trade requirements, employees of these factories are given the opportunity to pay into a pension fund and are also offered advanced pay in order to buy a house.
In addition, our Travel Collection is handmade in a state-of-the art facility founded by industry veterans who left their former jobs to create a company that places people and values at the center of everything they do. This new partnership has enabled us to use vegetable tanned leather for the first time. Unlike most tanning methods that often use chrome and other harmful chemicals that can create a severe impact on the environment if not properly disposed, vegetable tanning uses natural oils, completely eliminating the possibility of contaminating the environment.
In the next year, we're excited to learn from our partner factories and share the knowledge and programming we've acquired from building our own ethical factory. Together, we look forward to building a more sustainable fashion industry.
- Independent Artisans -
Our third mode of ethical production is through working closely with small, independent artisans to help grow their businesses and production capabilities. Just like in our own factory and our partner factories, all employees of our independent artisans are over the age of 18, and receive beyond fair trade wages, benefits, and a healthy working environment.
Partnering with independent artisans is one of the forms of ethical production that we are most excited about. This is one of the best methods of job creation in low-income environments and is also a way to preserve generational craftsmanship. Talented artisans around the world often face similar barriers to growth: knowledge of efficient production methodology, international quality standards and design trends, and access to quality materials, equipment, financing, and lucrative markets. We engage with independent artisans to help alleviate some of these challenges.
Since 2011, we’ve worked with artisans in Nairobi, Kenya who have been producing high-quality, beautiful jewelry out of up-cycled brass for over 20 years. You can read more about this partnership on our spotlight page here.
We are also in the process of helping a former shoemaker from our own factory in Peru launch his own business. Among other services, we are currently providing legal counsel, strategic advising, and letters of intent to place future product orders from Nisolo.
In the next year, we hope to grow our production in order to hire more artisans and impact the local economies of their neighboring communities.
Nairobi, Kenya & Trujillo, Peru
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