Los Angeles-based shoemaker, Stephanie Fryslie, and a master team of shoe craftsmen are taking on unemployment by way of the shoe industry. Her current project, Nicora Johns, is the 1st all eco-friendly and cruelty-free shoe company to design, source and manufacture in the United States. For every 500 pairs they sell, 10 new jobs are created!
The idea for starting the company began with both nostalgia for an old American craft lost and a genuine empathy for all the unemployed American artisans. These folks could be benefiting from having full-time fulfilling work as craftspeople making shoes. (Including the founder of the company). Currently only 1% of the shoes Americans buy are made in America and this number decreases by 7% every year. All the while, Americans are still spending billions of dollars annually on shoes. There must be a solution to this conundrum?
Today, the shoe industry is one of the highest polluting industries in the world. Between the chemicals required to treat leather or make synthetic materials and the agricultural destruction caused by overgrazing livestock, shoe materials make the top ten list of world’s most polluting industries every year.
But what if the US shoe industry were to make a comeback, but we do it more eco-conscious and socially-conscious than everyone else?
This is the EXACT idea behind Nicora Johns debut collection. They are partnered with materials manufacturers that produce all of their eco-conscious, high quality man-made shoe materials. Because they produce handmade shoes locally and buy from local suppliers, they are able to make custom sizes for little or no extra cost. They can also let our customers choose custom materials and colors. Couture with a damn conscious!
Since you are reading this, it’s probably safe for us to assume you are a consumer who cares where their shoes come from. So lets get to the honest truth…
Over 80% of shoe materials production & shoe manufacturing occurs in developing countries that have substandard environmental regulations. It takes 200 plus chemicals to make leather and according to UN statistics 70% of developing countries dump waste into groundwater and do not control emissions into the atmosphere. This is a recipe for polluted waterways, air pollution, ocean dumping and risks to health and human welfare on a global scale.
With that said, the current state of the worldwide leather industry has rendered it impossible for them to use leather while keeping to their mission of using all US materials & environmentally responsible production. The leather industry is highly dependent on fast-produced factory farmed cattle and heavy chemicals to quickly turn hair covered hides into smooth, supple vibrantly colored leathers. Little attention is paid to the chemical dumping, water or air pollution created from tanning/dying nor to how/where the cattle were grazed (rainforest land in South America for example).
All synthetic materials are not created equal. Synthetics are created with chemicals and when these chemical companies are not in countries with strict environmental regulations, the results can be catastrophic. It’s important to know where the factories were that made the materials and where the chemicals components came from too. This is a burdensome task if you’re just trying to buy a pair of shoes.
It’s time for all of us to learn how to decrease our environmental impact. If we complain loud enough, the shoe industry will listen.
It is a huge risk to do something that has never been done before. If Nicora Johns are successful, they will be the first shoemaker to have 100% American handmade, eco-friendly, cruelty-free shoes.
Support this chic project with soul/ sole buy pre-purchasing a pair of shoes from them today.