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Article: Artisan Manufacturing in Southern Spain

Artisan Manufacturing in Southern Spain — Van Velze & Smith Blog

Artisan Manufacturing in Southern Spain

After planning a trip to deepen connections with our Spanish manufacturers, my cofounder Graham and I embarked on a journey to southern Spain. Landing at Faro Airport in Portugal, we took a short trip across the border into Spain, eager and ready for an enlightening journey despite the uncertainty in the local economy. We hoped to get firsthand insights into our boot manufacturing process: no doubt a challenging task, but one we were excited to undertake.

Despite some difficulties, such as grappling with the language barrier (none of us spoke Spanish), the trip was a breeze. We were met by Maria Reyes, an instrumental contact we first encountered at the Micam fashion festival in Milan earlier this year. Her bilingual skills smoothed our interactions, ensuring every conversation with the manufacturers was seamless and productive.

One of the trip's highlights was our visit to a Goodyear welted boot manufacturing plant. Goodyear welting is a technique that involves sewing a strip of leather (the welt) to both the upper and insole of a boot, a method well-regarded for its durability and ease of resoling. Meeting the master artisans was a highlight of the trip – seeing firsthand the people and process responsible for crafting our boots for years.

We also had the chance to reconnect with our long-time manufacturer. When we started our journey back in 2018, we were extremely naïve – knowing little about the artisanal process. He has been patient with us every step of the way. (He's still patient with us today!)

His growth and evolution mirrored our own – from a small boot brand to a prominent figure within the footwear manufacturing sector. We reflected on our journey, taking time out from our usual hustle to appreciate how far we've come.

Beyond industry insights, the trip also offered a taste of inspiration for our future product lines. One surprise was the success of our recently launched baby boots, which saw our youngest customers taking their first footsteps with us – we couldn't be prouder!

We believe in making a difference. One of the main reasons we chose to work with Spanish manufacturers is the high unemployment rate in rural Spain. We hoped our business would provide a small but significant boost to the local economy. Despite the slow progress, we are committed to this cause, knowing that even small acts of kindness have a profound impact.

The trip was a heartening reminder of the passion and dedication that goes into crafting our boots. The artisan craftsmanship, the dedication of the staff, and the sense of community among the manufacturers left us with a warm sense of satisfaction. We returned home armed with fresh insights, new product ideas, and a stronger connection to the people and processes behind our boots.

As we gear up to launch our latest products and continue our journey, we remain grateful for the opportunities to engage directly with our manufacturers and make a positive impact where possible. Thank you for being a part of our journey.

Here's to more boots, more memories, and an unending journey of learning and growth.

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