Behind the scenes ~ A look at our factory
Without our talented artisans, craftsman and factories, we merely have vision. These people are arguably the most important part of any brand. They bring our ideas to life and execute them with precision, not to mention technical know-how.
I've always been in awe of the manufacturing process of shoes. Having worked in the footwear industry for the best part of 20 years, I know how complex the design and production side of the business is.
Even with a small, highly product-focused brand such as Raíz, there are a number of different factories involved in the making of our shoes.
It is therefore, a true pleasure to be able to shine a spotlight on one of the true creatives of our brand, Manuel. He is the co-owner and lead creative of one of Spain's most prestigious manufacturer of wedges.
Welcome to the first in our 'Meet The Maker' series.
Hola Manuel! Take us back to the beginning and tell us how you got started in the footwear industy...
"Well, I have to go back to 1995, when I started this path together with my father (he is already retired) and brother Antonio. We formed a small company manufacturing templates for footwear, which enabled us to make a living. One day a client asked us if we could make cork heels. At that very moment we did not imagine that we were beginning one of the most rewarding trips of our lives; working incredibly hard but always with humility and dedication to the clients."
What is the most enjoyable aspect of your job? And the most challenging?
"The most pleasant aspect is undoubtedly the creative part; being able to enjoy creating with our hands, from a drawing and a last, architectural figures and noble elements such as wood and cork and giving it life.
The most challenging part, as in most industries, is this very same process; always in need of attention to detail and loaded with stress."
You work with some incredible luxury brands. How involved do you get in their creative process?
"We have the great fortune and reward after so many years of working with the majority of internationally renowned firms and it allows us to see our pieces in the best shop windows in the world. We always try to work together with their creatives to give an opinion and solution to any challenge that we face."
As you know, Raíz Atelier is obsessed with wedges made out of cork, wood and wicker. What do you think makes the 'perfect wedge'?
"The subtlety, cleanliness, and purity makes it perfect, which takes us back to the principles of the elements used in footwear. If I had to define it in one word, I would perhaps use 'natural'."
What does 'sustainable' mean to you and in what ways do you try to be a responsible business?
"Sustainability has to be a lifestyle that society and industry should be applying. For quite some time and without a doubt, the atrocities that we are doing to the planet are unnatural. We hope that together we can improve it and act for future generations. In our company we work with certificates for the wood of controlled tree felling and responsible use. As for the natural element cork, in which there is no felling of the cork oak, there is only one uncorking of its bark to each tree every 9 years, which is also controlled."
You have supported Raíz from the beginning and have been a huge part of making our dream a reality. What drew you to our concept?
"I was attracted by the enthusiasm and passion put into this project, in addition to seeing the commitment and respect with regards to caring for this planet - that's needed more than ever. Who said that luxury, elegance and good taste together with being sustainable cannot go hand in hand? We are always open and excited to collaborate and try to carry out these projects working as a team."
The future of the fashion industry is, perhaps, more uncertain than ever before. What are your thoughts on fashion being one of the biggest contributors to the climate crisis and how do you see the industry changing in the next 5-10 years?
"Well, fashion is necessary, it always has been. We need and want to look and feel good about ourselves, and it's true and am completely sure that we are beginning to understand that the only way to alleviate the current situation is to be respectful of the planet. Our industry will have to start to measure that a successful path of a business is not based only on positive economical results, but things being done with a compromise."
2020 was a challenging year. How has it changed you as a person and as a business?
"It has unfortunately been a challenging year and continues to be. We are all living the same fear globally ... fear is a human's worst enemy, creating uncertainty and insecurity. As a person it has made me reflect a lot. We have to bear in mind that the most beautiful things in life are not bought with money, that it is necessary to give thanks for every day that we see the sunrise, enjoy laughing with our family and friends; all these many things we sometimes forget particularly with the frenetic pace of life that we usually lead ..... As a company, the truth is that I feel fortunate, since our expectations regarding the expected production in the face of the situation have surprisingly been greatly exceeded for the better, but I understand that the situation is not easy at all. In any crisis we will have to overcome and reinvent ourselves, we have no other alternative."
And finally, tell us the most beautiful place to visit in and around the region of Alicante?
"I love that you ask me this question because it gives me great pleasure to share that. For me, one of the most charming corners of the province is undoubtedly Altea, a coastal town with a charming old town that leads you to an intoxicating inner peace; a town with its narrow streets and white painted houses, art and craft shops, and people enjoying days and evenings under the moonlight of Altea..."