Buying shoes is great. Buying shoes for a cause can be life changing.
On Thursday November 15, the socially conscious shoe brand, Nisolo, had an open house event in Oxford that was part of their holiday tour. Nisolo, conceived in Trujillo, Peru, has helped 30 shoemakers change their lives by enhancing their businesses, while benefiting the rest of the community.
Ole Miss graduate Patrick Woodyard, along with two other young entrepreneurs, Zoe Cleary and Nick Meyer, created Nisolo in October 2011. Their idea originated in Peru while they were working for a microfinance organization that focused on helping women grow small businesses so that they could provide a better life for their families.
“A cause that has always been close to my heart has been poverty alleviation and economic development in general,” said Woodyard. “That is what originally led me to Peru to work in microfinance and eventually start Nisolo. It wasn’t until seeing the effects of Nisolo on the ground in Peru that I was completely convinced that our little choices do make a big difference.”
One day, as Woodyard and his friends were helping a woman with her convenience store, they heard a steady hammering noise from her husband Willan’s room. He was handcrafting beautiful men shoes.
A year later, Patrick Woodyard and his team created Nisolo to empower these Peruvian families blessed with incredibly talented artisans but cursed with a lack of resources.
Currently, Nisolo has over 40 stores in the United States and has been able to increase the shoemakers’ income levels by 400%. Access to better nutrition, education and home improvements have been possible for more than 100 families.
“We offer our artisans capital, training in quality and design, knowledge of outside markets, and well established distribution channels through the Nisolo brand. This creates unprecedented opportunity and sustainable change in their lives,” said Woodyard.
Quality and style
Patrick Woodyard, majored in international studies, Spanish, global economics, and business. He emphasized that the knowledge acquired through his studies at the University of Mississippi has been key in creation of his company that has benefited so many people.
“We offer our customers high-quality and stylish handmade leather shoes and accessories at an affordable price. Our customers do not have to sacrifice comfort, quality or style in order to wear the shoes they want and support a great cause while doing so,” Woodyard said.
In two years, Nisolo has generated more than $700,000 in sales through their website, 40 wholesale partnerships, and special events. This December, Nisolo will continue its 20 city tour of the East Coast before returning to their headquarters in Nashville, TN.
Woodyard mentioned some possible expansion ideas in the future for Nisolo, as well as the new products they plan to offer soon, such as a line of alpaca wool sweaters, scarves, and handmade jewelry.
“We hope to become a world renown retail brand providing high quality, fashionable products produced by skilled craftsmen and women around the world in a way that changes their lives for the better while surpassing the desires of everyday consumers,” Woodyard said.
For more information about Nisolo, visit www.nisoloshoes.com
–Story and photos contributed by Lizdaimar López