Two moms with a conscience launch a line of walking works of art.
Some of the world’s most talented weavers are hand-looming fabric magic in rural villages near Oaxaca, Mexico.
Clara Garcia and her three daughters live among them, hand-dyeing wool, hand-weaving textile straps and cutting soles from recycled tires for each pair of Fort Collins-based Laadi Designs sandals. Garcia’s husband collects hides from the local butcher—another ethical notch for the artisan family’s hacienda-based workshop, since no additional animals are harmed—and uses a traditional small-batch method to hand-cut and tan the leather.
Laadi co-founder Alisa Woofter fell in love with the Garcias’ craftsmanship while traveling in Mexico. “Shoemaking and weaving are traditions that are endangered in the world of fast fashion,” she says.
The 35-year-old mother of two teamed up with co-founder and friend Amber Schmechel, also 35 with two daughters, and launched their bohemian, socially conscious sandal brand in 2017 with a little help from a Kickstarter campaign.
Fair Trade-certified Laadi—which means “weaving” in Zapotec, Oaxaca’s indigenous language—ensures artisans receive reasonable and reliable wages and donates $1 from every sandal sale to She’s the First, an organization supporting girls education.
“We understand that the purchases we make as consumers have the ability to leave a footprint around the globe, so why not leave a positive, empowering footprint?” says Schmechel.
Laadi’s first year was a wild success with fashion-forward 30- to 50-somethings snatching up the stylish, durable footwear and a recently launched line of hand-woven tapestry totes and handbags—items are selling faster than artisans can create them. The sandals are currently sold online and at more than a dozen boutiques nationwide and at Walnut Creek in Fort Collins. The savvy entrepreneurs will be diving deeper into the wholesale market this year and also plan to vend at various Colorado summer festivals.
Photos courtesy Sunny Frantz @sunny.frantz