Nicora Johns Ethical Footwear
Hi compassionistas! A few weeks ago I shared the kickstarter video for Nicora Johns - "the 1st American manufacturer of quality handmade, eco-friendly & cruelty-free shoes with a focus of bringing jobs back into the USA"- are you a backer? I am sincerely excited about the launch of this brand & hope with all of my might that they receive the funds necessary to bring their gorgeous designs to life. Not only for the sake of my closet, but for the sake of the industry, the animals, the unemployed artisans, & the environment.
Currently only 1% of the shoes Americans buy are made in America, & this number decreases by 7% every year. All the while, Americans are still spending billions of dollars annually on shoes.
In turn, this is what our hard earned dollars are supporting:
The shoe industry is one of the highest polluting industries in the world - between the chemicals required to treat leather or make synthetic materials, & the agricultural destruction caused by overgrazing livestock.
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 & according to UN statistics 70% of developing countries dump waste into groundwater & do not control emissions into the atmosphere. This is a recipe for polluted waterways, air pollution, ocean dumping & risks to health and human welfare on a global scale.
The worldwide leather industry has rendered it impossible for us to use leather while keeping to our mission of using all US materials & environmentally responsible production. The leather industry is highly dependent on fast-produced factory farmed cattle & 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.
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. (source)
What Nicora Johns hopes to achieve:
The idea for starting the company began with both nostalgia for an old American craft lost, & a genuine empathy for all the unemployed American artisans, who could be benefiting from having full-time fulfilling work as craftspeople making shoes. (Including Stephanie Fryslie, the founder of the company).
Our plan is supported by a network of shoemakers & industry professionals here in the United States, who have helped us prepare our shoe company’s Kickstarter launch. We all have a lot of hope at stake for our project as US shoe industry jobs continue to go abroad.
We are partnered with materials manufacturers that produce all of our eco-conscious, high quality man-made shoe materials. Our partners were chosen because they share in our goals of making production safer for the environment, eliminating waste & creating jobs for Americans.
Because we produce handmade shoes locally & buy from local suppliers, we are able to make custom sizes for little or no extra cost. We can also let our customers choose custom materials & colors. (source)
I don’t know about you, but I work hard for my money & I want to know that my dollars are supporting the efforts of people like these. In my mssion to live a cruelty-free lifestyle, I no longer purchase leather goods, & seek out man-made/synthetic shoes. While I do shop with Cri de Coeur & OlsenHaus (when their stuff is on sale!), out of convenience, I’ve often found myself at Target, buying up synthetic sandals, flats, & boots, as they often have fashion forwards styles that are inexpensive & leather-free. But lately I’ve been questioning my consumption habits. We all do the best we can, but I am learning that it simply not enough to avoid leather. These “man-made” alternatives are often made with harmful chemicals, & in foreign factories with unfair labor practices. Not to mention they are extremely low quality which means they soon end up in the garbage & at a landfill because they aren’t even in good enough condition to donate. These cheap man-made alternatives, while free of “leather,” aren’t socially ethical, sustainable, or necessarily “vegan” as many plastics & glue come from animal by-products. I know, this all can get so overwhelming & like I said, all we can do is our best. But our obsession with cheap, disposable fashion comes at great social, ethical & environmental costs. Go read Overdressed.
My new goal, as best I can achieve it, is to acquire less & consume consciously. And when I do consume & acquire, my goal is to shop with ethically minded companies - clothing, shoes, handbags, & all kinds of goods alike. It may take a bit of time, savings, & extra effort, but it is something I am feeling very strongly about.
With that said, please take the time to check out Nicora Johns’ kickstarter & if you can’t afford a pair of shoes, any small contribution to show your support would be appreciated greatly!