Working together in the fabrication of their own brand of footwear has opened an international market for some indigenous women in Oaxaca.
Ndavaa, Zapotec for “my sandal,” was the name chosen by the women from the municipality of San Dionisio Ocotepec to commercialize their hand-made creations.
“We knew that we were not going to be able to make it by ourselves, so we decided to work together,” said Graciela García of the formation of the shoemaking cooperative.
“We created a work synergy,” she continued, “and have seen doors open that were closed to us before, moving toward limits we believed out of reach.”
Leather is used to make the body of the shoes, and recycled PET plastic for the soles. What makes the Ocotepec creations stand out among countless options are the hand-woven textiles adorning each pair, making them colorful and unique.
The shoes “are made with all the style of Oaxaca and reflect our pride and our inspiration,” said García.
That inspiration comes from traditional designs woven on foot-pedal and backstrap looms, although the artisans interpret them and modify them with a contemporary touch.
The first time the cooperative presented their products to a broader audience was at a trade show in Mexico City, they were rewarded with strong sales as they were well received by consumers.
“The impact we had through our sales brought buyers from everywhere, formalizing our business . . . we’re now exporting footwear and reaching the [markets of] the United States, Spain, Israel, Germany and Belgium.”
García said they are currently working on 2018 spring-summer models, and that almost all of their production is already bought.
“I just want to ask people to buy what’s made in Mexico, because they’ll be helping a lot of people that depend on this [kind of] work. There’s nothing better than building a value chain and helping each other out,” said García.
Many of Ndavaa’s creations are featured on the organization’s Facebook page.
Source: Milenio (sp)