Rodrigo Mendes wasn’t looking for a new career path when he stumbled upon a pair of boots made by his grandfather more than 50 years ago in his workshop in Portugal.
Currently working in the telecommunications industry, the 37-year-old Mendes had thought his grandfather’s old work space would be the perfect setting for a small restaurant. Upon surveying the space with his father, he came upon sewing machines, shoe lasts and hand tools as well as an old leather boot made by his grandfather.
After spotting the boot, Mendes’ dream of a restaurant quickly turned into a shoe company, with the launch this month of Swain, a handcrafted utility-inspired unisex boot with a casual, raw style. It even comes uniquely packaged in a reusable wooden box.
Mendes has kicked off the business with a crowd funding campaign on Indiegogo, the goal of which is to raise about $20,000. Those who sign on will receive a 15 percent discount on the boot, selling at about $136. After the campaign, which runs through April, the boot will sell for $160.
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While the brand now offers a single style, Mendes said in the future it will be possible for online buyers to customize the boot, with new features also being added.
According to Mendes, he is not the only family member to carry on his grandfather’s shoemaking legacy. Brother Ricardo currently runs two shoe stores in Portugal, also founded by his grandfather.