Tucked away on an intimate corner Nashville’s Germantown neighborhood, expertly hand-crafted shoes are being sold at affordable prices. Even better, with every sale, lives are being changed. Welcome to Nisolo, a company that sells beautifully made leather goods made specifically for the Nisolo brand in Peru. 70% of their distribution is online while about 50 stores across the US sell Nisolo products as well.
Enter the showroom and you instantly become a part of something. You can feel it. Cofounders Zoe Cleary and Patrick Woodyard are pioneers in the trend of mindful consumerism. Zoe and Patrick were connected through a mutual friend in 2011. At the time, Zoe was looking for involvement in something with meaning, something to feel passionate about. Patrick, who had been developing the concept of Nisolo for about a year, introduced her to the shoemakers in Trujillo, a small town in northern Peru, and she was able to see firsthand the distinguished level of craftsmanship. She knew at once that she had found the purpose and passion for which she had been searching. Zoe left her life in the New York fashion industry behind and together she and Patrick created the Nisolo company.
With over 3,000 small-scale shoemakers in the Peruvian region, Zoe and Patrick saw the need to “address the lack of a consistent job or livelihood.” Working off the premise that it’s better to give a hand up rather than a hand out, Nisolo has become vehicle for empowerment for the many artisans they have met. Now, shoemakers, who have generations of experience crafting leather goods, are able to shape their future. When you purchase a pair of Nisolo shoes, you are changing communities in South America and giving the gift of accomplishment: lives are being positively impacted by earning a living income to provide for themselves and their families.
So, how did Nisolo find it’s way to being headquartered in Nashville? Well, the first shipment of Nisolo shoes was sent to Oxford, Mississippi in the fall of 2011. The team began traveling the Southeast hosting trunk shows with stops in Georgia, Alabama, Texas, Louisiana, Memphis and Arkansas. Then, they discovered Nashville, and we’re so happy they did! Nashville was attractive because it’s a strong southern city with a growing fashion industry. The brand fit the “vibe” of Music City. Patrick’s passion for building successful for-profit business models coupled with Nashville’s support of caused-based brands made Nashville the perfect headquarters for Nisolo.
Patrick’s Southern roots fostered this passion. In a blog post Patrick says, “I envision a South that will continue to strengthen its participation in addressing many of the challenges that we face today yet that will stay true to the heritage and countless positives that make this region so special. Those very attributes-the rebellious, prideful spirit of the South combined with its strong religious ties and dedication to volunteerism-are what make the South what I perceive to be one of the most prominent, untapped markets for social innovation. Just wait, you’ll see.”
Zoe hails from California, but she quickly discovered how true Patrick’s words about the South are and sees our region championing the trend of conscious consumerism. It’s a mindset that has been evolving, changing and growing over the past few years and she feels honored to be a part of this progression. The community of fashion focused brands for change is strong. “There is a natural inclination to be competitive with other brands,” Zoe said. “And then you realize, we are all in this together. It is a revolution that is not going to happen if we are all competitive. We must band together and learn from each other.”
What makes Nisolo stand out? They are raising the bar. By raising the expectations of business models and products, they are making changes and asserting their belief that this is “the way of the future, the only way for ethical growth.” Zoe challenges people to ask “Why not make this the standard?” Nisolo is leading the pack by creating classic, tasteful products that can span decades and age groups. High quality goods at an accessible price point — this is what customers should demand.
Today, Nisolo footwear, handbags and accessories are shipped directly from Peru to Nashville. Here are few samples of what to expect:
Find out more here: http://nisolo.com