Biodegradable shoes made in Oaxaca

In 1994, when the Mexican peso depreciated before the dollar, the economic crisis struck the artisans, who abandoned their trades and migrated

Biodegradable shoes made in Oaxaca
Ndavaa has over 300 original designs - Photo: Mario Arturo Martínez/EL UNIVERSAL
English 27/01/2019 14:36 Christian Jiménez/Corresponsal San Dionisio Ocotepec, Oaxaca Actualizada 14:36
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The shoes made by the García family have reached Israel, where their collective, Ndavaa, arrived to satisfy hundreds of clients that recognize the high-quality and originality of their products from Oaxaca.

The Ndavaa collective was created 13 ago, and since then, it has become a source of employment for dozens of families, comprised by women mostly, but Clara García and her husband, Germán, started making sandals 35 years ago.

In Zapotec, Ndavaa means “my sandal.”



Algo nuevo se está cocinando!! #ndavaa #ndavaademisamores #diseñomexicano #manosindigenas #slowfashion

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Clara remembers that after finishing basic education, there weren't many work opportunities for her and her husband.

“In the beginning, we sold materials to tan (leather), such as salt, bleach, and firewood. Back then, in Jalatlaco, in the city of Oaxaca, there were many tanners,” she said.

The García family obtained around 50 to 60 tons of materials to tan leather per year, that they supplied to the municipalities near the city; nevertheless, the use of vinyl caused the closing of tanneries and therefore, the family business collapsed.

A new crisis

In 1983, after their last order, the couple had 40 tons of materials. They then decided to tan the leather and became the only family in the town who made sandals.

It took them around three years to learn how to tan and make shoes. The profits were barely enough to pay the bills and recover the money they invested in materials and tools. Later, they stood out in the sale and making of typical sandals used by farmers. Their products were sold in other towns.

But in 1994, when the Mexican peso depreciated before the dollar, the economic crisis struck the artisans, who abandoned their trades and migrated. Their company that employed over 15 artisans, was left with 3 employees.

Later, Germán was assigned a position in their municipality, but it was unpaid, and they had to take care of their young children, so there was no time for the business and the sales decreased. Germán even considering migrating to the United States, but he didn't have enough money.

Something different

On her free time, Clara and her daughter, Laura, began experimenting with shoemaking. Their first alternative design was one made with painted seeds. In just one day, the three pairs with the same design were purchased by a fashion designer, who encouraged them to keep on creating.

They decided to reactivate and innovate in the market, so Clara and her daughters, Laura and Graciela created Ndavaa, a brand that became a synonym of originality.

After using seeds to decorate the sandals, the women thought they could incorporate other materials that represented Oaxaca; they decided to do it by using textiles.

Ndavaa directly employs 16 families to collaborate in the production process. They cut, embroider, and saw the pieces. It also collaborates with 35 other families, who work as artisans in other regions in Oaxaca. They produce textiles, shawls, and other pieces that are used to make the sandals.

“The majority of us are women. We try to get in touch with the producers through collaboration agreements that look to respect the production prices and emphasize the natural processes,” Clara said.

Thanks to these efforts, each pair of shoes is unique, as all of them are made by hand. Currently, they produce 1,200 pairs of shoes every month.

Ndavaa doesn't only make sandals, they also make sneakers, boots, heels, and purses: all of them are made by hand with artisanal techniques, and not only that, they are made with biodegradable materials.



@ndavaa_oficial en colaboración con @ilanodesign #manosindigenas #calzadosustentable #mujereszapotecas #diseñomexicano

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“We wanted to create lasting products and not affect the economy of those who depend on it,” said the artisan.

All over the world

Ndavaa not only participates in artisanal fairs all over the country, but they also sell their products through social media networks, such as Facebook. Prices range between MXN $300 to MXN $1,000.

In 2011, Ndavaa was awarded the Successful Business award. The prize gave them a lot of attention, and the embassy of Israel contacted them so they would show their products in Israel in 2012 and 2015.

The currently have over 300 original shoe designs. Their shoes can be bought in Mercado Libre and in Amazon.


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