Nisolo Shoes Aims to Build U.S. Wholesale Presence

Nisolo Shoes has its heart in Peru, but the cause-based company is zeroing in on the U.S. market when it comes to financing its mission.

When Nisolo launched last year, the brand took a grassroots approach to marketing, including a tour through 17 Southern cities, but now it is aiming to build a more commercial retail presence.

Nisolo, which previously sold its footwear only through its own website, has a goal of creating jobs and educational opportunities for Peruvian shoemakers by bringing the shoemakers’ products to larger markets. To that end, it is creating wholesale partnerships with brick-and-mortar boutiques across the U.S.

Five stores have signed on to carry Nisolo for fall, including Supply Room in Santa Barbara, Calif. and Circle Seven Outpost & Provisions in Jackson, Miss., with negotiations in the works with 10 additional retailers, according to Nisolo’s New York-based COO Zoe Cleary. The label is also introducing five new styles for the season.

The women’s and men’s leather chukkas, loafers, sandals, flats and oxfords retail from about $50 to $150. “Our shoes are unique and handmade, but ultimately, what will have the greatest impact is driving volume in the U.S.,” Cleary said. “The more we sell here, the more jobs we can create.”

The COO added that Nisolo’s next goal is to create a formal headquarters for Peruvian shoemakers to ply their trade, as most of the artisans currently work out of their homes.

“We’ve set up a basic [business] structure in Peru,” Cleary said. “Now we’re ready to expand and hire more shoemakers in a way that doesn’t compromise the quality of our products or the working conditions of our shoemakers. We are hoping to drive this volume through retail partners.”

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