Aera is marking a new milestone in its business.
The luxury vegan footwear company has earned B Corporation Certification after what the company said was a “demanding and rigorous evaluation” of its governance, workers, community, and impact on both people and the environment.
As a B Corp., Aera said that it now meets verified standards of social and environmental performance, transparency, and accountability. The brand also noted that it is the first luxury footwear company with this certification.
“When we first founded Aera in 2019, we challenged ourselves to create a footwear brand that sets a new standard by proving that luxury design and quality do not have to be compromised in the name of sustainability,” explained Tina Bhojwani, co-founder and CEO of Aera. “In building Aera, we’ve been methodical in our approach, measuring every environmental and social impact. Becoming a B Corporation is a key part of our journey in producing luxury vegan footwear that’s manufactured with a sense of responsibility for human, animal and environmental welfare.”
Bhojwani launched Aera with the help of veteran designer Jean-Michel Cazabat and investor Alvertos Revach in May 2019. Named after the Ancient Greek word meaning “to lift up,” Aera is focused on quantifying its carbon footprint, and in turn, identifying offset strategies for environmental impacts that come from shoemaking.
With several collections under their belts, and the worst of lockdowns and supply chain hiccups behind them, the Aera team opened Figure Eight in September. Located at 63 Greene Street in New York’s SoHo neighborhood, Figure Eight features Aera’s latest collection along with a curated assortment of like-minded sustainable and vegan brands across fashion, jewelry and beauty. The shop will be open through the end of January 2022, Bhojwani noted.
As for what this certification means for Aera’s business moving forward, Bhojwani told FN that it will keep the brand accountable as it eyes areas of improvement and growth. “There is great innovation in material science right now, I’d love to improve some of our materials. We also would love to give back more to our community as we grow with intention and address how we can make some of our internal processes more efficient,” she said.
Looking ahead into 2022, Bhojwani is focusing on fundraising. “We’ve been self-funded up until this point and have had a little help from friends and family,” she admitted. “We also launched a crowdfunding campaign during the height of the pandemic, which was a good way to get the brand out there, but we weren’t there yet. We didn’t have our certification, we didn’t have our distribution. Now that we are in a better place, it’s time to fundraise as we move into next year.”
“The message I really want to put out there is that luxury and sustainability can coexist,” Bhojwani told FN. “That’s really why I started this company. We’re lucky that we work in an industry that inspires so many others. So, my personal goal is to move the needle forward and inspire others to do the same.”
Aera is sold online at aeranewyork.com as well as at retailers including Nordstrom, Saks, The Conservatory, and Lane Crawford.