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In a world of mass production, mass consumption, and reckless disposability, I seek something more enduring and more personal in what I make. And so I invest more-than-just-a-bit of myself in every piece I stamp with the Rooted Soles logo. I meticulously shape each design through countless cycles of design-prototype-refine. I purchase our raw materials in small lots, carefully selected for quality, sustainability, and beauty. And I individually craft every shoe that goes out my door, to yours. It takes time, and it’s not the least expensive approach to making shoes. But I believe it’s worth it.
Why? Because faster and cheaper aren’t always better, and even well-made, expensive mass-produced goods lack the personal connection, individuality, and rootedness that come from making by hand.
The Rooted Soles Story
In some ways, I started Rooted Soles simply because I love making things. That's not the whole story, but it's a good place to start, because it's such a big part of what drives me every single day. I love art and creativity, but even more, I love the deeply authentic connection that comes from shaping raw materials into something that’s both useful and beautiful.
After several years of working as a seamstress and teaching sewing classes, I had the unique opportunity to work as an upholsterer at a high-end custom furniture maker. I’d never upholstered in my life, but I got to learn from incredibly talented people, master practitioners of hand-skills fading in the face of cheaper and faster factory-based assembly-line mass production. They taught me how to hand tie springs, how to use horse hair to stuff the tufted backs just so, how to work with leather. Most importantly, they helped me to discover how much I loved the grit and sweat and thought that goes into that kind of making. It had a certain raw intensity and challenged me in a way that fabric sewing didn’t.
A year later, I made my first pair of leather baby booties. I already had a gorgeous piece of ostrich leather I’d bought years earlier and hoarded (carefully! gently!) as a prized piece in my sewing room, waiting for just the right project, and on a bit of a whim, I decided one day to make a pair of shoes for my eight-month-old daughter, Charlotte.
So I let Charlotte nap on our bed and very quietly measured her feet while she slept. I sat down with my sewing machine, that piece of leather, and YouTube (yes, thank you, YouTube!) and started shaping that piece of leather into my first pair of handmade shoes. I nearly broke my little home sewing machine in the process, but Charlotte woke up to new booties. Those first booties served as inspiration for our Eyre booties and I spent the next two years user-testing prototypes before I was ready to put them out into the world.
The other piece of the Rooted Soles story isn't about making, because this company is about more than making nice handcrafted shoes. Part of what drives me with Rooted Soles is a desire to build a different kind of company, one that's about more than cranking out products and building sales and maximizing profit.
Rooted Soles is about investing our time and ourselves in products that are beautiful and functional, with little waste and lots of character. Rooted soles is about forging relationships and honoring connections — with you, with my vendors, with my community. It’s about running a business in a way that’s attuned to the world more broadly, sourcing materials responsibly, reducing our environmental impact, treating customers like real people, and giving others (especially women) opportunities to learn a trade and hone their skills.
It’s been hard and sometimes heart-wrenching work. I know that Rooted Soles is filled with me, but I also know that I couldn’t have done any of this without the countless craftspeople who have been so generous with their time and knowledge, helping me to improve my designs and to develop my skills — in making shoes, working with leather, building a business. It’s been so incredibly gratifying and humbling to encounter such wonderful and talented people, and I’m sometimes speechless in my gratitude for their support and help.
So that’s my story. I love what I do, and I hope you love wearing your Rooted Soles as much as I enjoy making them. Please let me know!
Wishing you many happy adventures!