Sustainable Business Review: Hand-made Shoes in Austin, Tx and the Triple Bottom Line

“Howdy y’all”
I hope this note finds you well. I started writing you this message during a visit to sunny Austin, Texas a few weeks ago, where I was delighted by songbirds, artsy storefronts, and a new food concept: the breakfast taco (not pictured because I ate mine too fast).

One business I was particularly impressed with is a store called Fortress of Inca which sells sustainably produced shoes, handmade in Peru.

The “S” word

“S” for “Sustainability” and “S” for “SHOES!”

These words together pulled me into the store like I was caught in a lasso.

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Admittedly my first thought upon seeing the shoes on display, a variety of funky oxfords with cut-outs, was to wonder if they could be converted into tap shoes. The answer is probably, since these well-constructed shoes all have nice leather soles, but as I perused the store and chatted with the owner and a few employees, I learned a bit about the business itself, which left me inspired and eager to spread the word about another creative, sustainably-minded business.

Here are those cut-out oxfords, potential tap shoes:

And a bit about the shop:

Fortress of Inca was born 10 years after Evan Streusand, founder of the business, went on a wonderlust adventure throughout Peru and bought a pair of handmade boots along the way. Upon his return to the States and as time went on, he noticed the shoes lasted forever and realized he wanted to make those shoes available in the US.

Evan wanted to create a sustainable, ethical business, so took strides to do his research, connect with like-minded people in Peru, and create a business that benefits the triple bottom line*: people, the planet, and pocketbooks, rather than simply generating profits.

Triple Bottom Line
The Triple Bottom Line is a way to measure a company’s success in terms of sustainability. Wheras the conventional bottom line measures economic profits, the triple bottom line takes into account social and environmental factors as well to create a more rounded assessment of a businesses “bottom line.” https://www.tools4management.com/article/the-triple-bottom-line-a-study/

Fortres of Inca, a small retail shop located in South Austin, works with several small shoemaker companies in Peru who use sustainably sourced materials (rubber, leather, and wood) to make their shoes. Workers enjoy excellend working conditions and are paid fairly, with benefits like social security and health care.

While their shoes are not the cheapest on the market, Fortress of Inca shoes fairly reflect the actual cost of their products in terms of the triple bottom line. Consumers pay more, but at least that is not at the expense of the people who make the shoes and our environment. This is a fair and sustainable pricing structure and business model that I hope more business will come to adopt.

Check out the Fortress of Inca website for more information about the company and its products, or stop by the store if you’re in the area!

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Ta ta for now,

Kelly B

 

 

 

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MacGruber Wreath- Step-by-Step

Calling all Crafters and Florists:

What can you do with unbent paperclips, some twine, and stuff you collect in the forrest…make a wreath!

DIY Autumn Wreath
Rita Reinecke Design

 

If you’re clever, like MacGyver or McGruber, you can make this without spending a dime.

Here’s how:

You will need:

  • the great outdoors
  • clippers

collect:

  • moss
  • ivy
  • hearty foliage (like so…)

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You will also need:

  • wire or string for wrapping
  • straw
  • floral pins (or paper clips, think “MacGyver”)
  • ribbon or twine to hang your wreath

Note: moss is not 100% necessary. If you can’t find it outside, you can buy it at a craft store, or just skip it.

Now, let me explain:

  1. Start with your ivy or twine and make a ring

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2. Cover the ring with hay or straw, wrapping it as you go, handful by handful, with string or wire, tightly. Remember to secure the beginning and end of your wire wrapping. I usually tie it off or twist it around itself. You’ll figure it out. Remember, you are a great ape.

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3. Next, if you can find some, wrap a layer of moss around that.

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4. At this point, the wreath its pretty as is! Make a loop for hanging with rope or ribbon

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5. Next, I’m so sorry made an epic fail and forgot to take a picture of this intermediary stage…take your hearty foliage clippings and layer them starting at the top, working down and counter-clockwise, while wrapping the stems with your wire or string…see how my hands are, that’s how you should layer the foliage. Keep it organized, it will save you a headache later, and try to avoid wrapping the leaves down flat, aim for the stems. This step requires some dexterity but it does not have to be perfect, because you will cover this part with your flowers and such…

Photo on 9-23-17 at 10.50 PM

6. Finally, use floral pins or unfolded paperclips (easier, cheaper, more accessible) to pin your nature walk treasures to your wreath. Remember symmetry generally makes things look good. Work on your wreath while it is hung up, stepping back every now and again to assess your work from afar. Don’t be too critical, it doesn’t have to be perfect. Go with your instincts. DSCN4650.JPG

7. And Voilá! A beautiful seasonal wreath.

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Here, I added a bunch of felted ornaments for a very early Christmas display

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Rita Reinecke Design

Questions, comments, frustrations to vent? Did I make it seem too easy? Note I made my wreath over a period of a few days because I do not have the patience or attention span to do it all at once. Let me know how it goes if you make one! They make great gifts and grandma’s tend to love them.

Show me what you come up with, I’d be happy to see your take on the MacGyver Wreath!

I learned this style from my wonderful WWOOF hostess Rita in Berlin last fall. Credit where credit is due. Thank you Rita!

xoxo,

Kelly