Hey y’all! Are you ready for Spring? It’s FINALLY in the air… I don’t know how long it’ll stay, but I’m busting out my peep toe and ballet flats. (It’s that much closer to feet in the sand and grass.) My girl, Shannon, and I are going to be reviewing The Root Collective shoes today. Not only are they fairly traded, on trend in saturated and rich colors, but the best part is that these guys are super comfy! I also love the mission – and the Founder, Bethany Tran!
Let me introduce Bethany first. I want you to see the heart behind the style. Here she is in her transparent, humble glory. 🙂
The story behind The Root Collective
is really one of God breaking my heart and changing the way I view everything.
I’ve been very close friends and involved with one of our nonprofit partners, Lemonade International
, since their conception more than 5 years ago. They work solely in the slum of La Limonada in Guatemala City. It’s the largest urban slum in Central America and is considered one of the most dangerous places in the world.
It has a significant presence of gangs and life there is very, very hard.
A very good friend of mine was one of the founding members and was moving to Guatemala to work with the people living in La Limonada.
I’m not the kind of person who is certain of things right away. But I knew instantaneously that I was supposed to go.
So, three weeks after she moved, I arrived to what I now call my second home.
My experience in that single week utterly changed my life.
poverty. I knew
that my calling as a Christian was with “the least of these
,” just like it is for all of us. But I didn’t really understand what that meant until I saw it first hand. I went to Guatemala twice that year, both times coming home devastated to be back in my normal life, with my normal corporate job. I knew that I was supposed to do more, to be involved more.
Now, let me get something straight here: I didn’t want to help. I didn’t want to be a savior. This is an important distinction. I wanted to partner. I didn’t want to say, “you need me” or have a superiority complex that implied that they weren’t capable of working hard enough to change their circumstances. It might sound weird to say that I didn’t want to help, and I don’t mean that in the way that it might sound.
I just believe in the people who live in poverty enough to know that they are capable. They didn’t need me. They just needed someone to believe in them enough to partner with them.
I come from a marketing background, so I knew pretty much right off the bat that I needed to use my skills to make an impact. The concept for The Root Collective
was planted after my first trip to Guatemala. It was one of the scariest things I could possibly think to do! I hadn’t worked in retail, and I hadn’t worked in international business enough to really know anything about it.
But sometimes, I think the most successful things can come from people who are too naive to realize what they don’t know.
After 4 years of thinking about it, I finally got the guts to just do it. I had seen the PBS premier of “Half the Sky” and emailed Bill Cummings, the Executive Director of Lemonade International, the next day and told him we needed to talk.
That got the ball rolling! A few months later, I was back in Guatemala, starting relationships with artisans that were working with Lemonade already. I also had a friendship of the directors of Come Unity and Neema Project
, our two other nonprofit partners, so I began discussing partnering with their artisans as well.
The process of getting The Root Collective
off the ground was extraordinarily difficult. We came across so many unexpected challenges and had to work so hard to get through them. But it has been beyond incredible to go through this process, continue to develop relationships with our artisans, and see their lives beginning to change through our partnership.
Also, 10% of each sale (not just profit!) goes back to our nonprofit partners. The really cool part is that customers get to pick which nonprofit partner they want to support! And the thing that’s special about this is that we’re able to partner with the artisans, and also with their entire communities through supporting the work of the nonprofits. It’s been so neat to see how much impact this is able to create!
Consumers are the most powerful people in the world and how you spend your money really determines the kind of world that you want to live in.
So our hope is that people will become more aware of this and will start focusing on companies like The Root Collective
when they’re looking to purchase. It can really make such a difference!
So for the shoes: they come in whole sizes only. I normally wear an 8.5 so I sized down after talking to Bethany. I’m glad I did!! The material stretches just a bit with wear. These guys have a nice, firm rubber sole that you just KNOW they’re gonna last. They’re lined in moleskin which feels good against the foot and I think also helps so they don’t rub. I mean, I’m all for a good foot rub, just not by my shoes. The higher heel back also covers the entirety of the heel bone so there is no rubbing there either. Hooray for no blisters!
Here are the two pairs that Shannon and I bought:
See how fab they are? Rich, saturated colors that are on trend for Spring 2014. Don’t believe me? How about the Pantone Fashion report from a little thing called New York Fashion Report…
What do y’all think? Are you ready to buy these guys? Still on the fence? Check these outfit suggestions Shannon and I put together on polyvore. (follow us if you’re there. We plan to get more into outfit creation.)
This may officially be my longest post ever. But I just quickly want to encourage you to step out of your “plain” colored shoe box (see what I did there?). If you want to know a little about color theory, you can read about it online. I don’t know much, but anyone can google a color and find complimentary or coordinating colors. Things no longer have to “match” – things just “go” together. Fashion has come a long way from those conservative rules and misconceptions. So go wild! Buy some of the fabulous Root Collective shoes. You won’t regret it! It’s style, rooted in love. And with these beauties on your feet and your dollars going to so much good, you’re feet will be firmly rooted in love too.
Hopefully this is a compelling post. If you need a little more of a boost – Bethany has been generous enough to extend a discount to my fellow fair trade fashionistas… use code FAIRTRADEFASH for 10% off!
In Style and Love,