Its been a funny old year so far, we have been busy in the shop with orders from lots of lovely you!
And then there has been the issues we have had with stolen photos of our designs reproduced in China and sold across sites all over social media worldwide. This was (and is) intensely frustrating but at the same time, it has given way to positives in the sense that we have realised our limitations as a business with only a few pairs being made every week (#SlowFashion at its best!) .
Al and I were having a good chat about it all one day and genuinely considered finding a factory somewhere in Europe to produce Shandals® but it seemed so disconnected from the way we work, especially as we have such a unique one to one connection with our clients. I was cycling up a hill a few days later and it suddenly clicked into place that we could create our very own Factory in Machynlleth, being that it is the ancient capital of Wales and there was once a large leather industry in the town, in fact the tannery is now part of the MOMA exhibition tucked around the back of the building. Laura Ashley began her enterprise just a few doors up from us, so why couldn’t we start our own workshop/factory making Shoes and Shandals too?
So on a shoe string budget and without a business plan or a spreadsheet forecast in sight we got started! And things have just about fallen into place. We got a finishing machine on eBAY for a bargain price of £155, found some other key equipment and then we drove to Northampton to look at some thicker leathers that would be suitable for the new ranges. We are in the process of working out the costings and busily trying to find Makers in Machynlleth and it is very nearly coming together. So in the past week we have just started producing the first pairs which are soon to be available on the website www.shandals.co.uk
While we are very intent on continuing to make the bespoke orders for our shoes (after all every single pair of feet are different) we have realised there is also a market for Shandals being ready made off the shelf for those that want them.
I should also explain that ‘we’ is myself Ruth Emily Davey, former apprentice of Shoemaker Alan James Raddon and owner of RED shoes and Al himself who created Shandals back in 1992. We have been making bespoke for many years now retrospectively in our own workshops (Alan works from home in Aberarth and I work from my shop at no.17 Heol Maengwyn Machynlleth) Alan has been making shoes for over 40 years and I am now in my 14th year.
Each and every pair will continue to be made by hand from our workshop in Machynlleth. Each and every pair will be made from high quality bespoke leathers and as always will be made to last and be fully repairable after many years of wear.
We put the sign up last week to mark the occasion and will launch more news on it as we go along. Exciting!