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August 8th, 2013 | By Nell Alk

So, we’re fashionably late with this, but better late than never, right?

With just 9 days left to go, run-don’t-walk to check out female-founded footwear company Nicora Johns’ Kickstarter campaign.

Begun by LA-based shoemaker Stephanie Fryslie, this special unisex shoe brand brings to the table everything we’d want for our feet, and more.

It goes without saying that Nicora Johns shoes are aesthetically superior. We wouldn’t tout their virtues were it not for the fact that we want her debut collection in our closet yesterday. But, beyond the obvious visual appeal, their beauty is more than skin deep.

Speaking of skin, these flats, heels, boots and sandals are skinless. And there are few things we adore more than cruelty-free kicks. With that said, the faux leather (one of several fabrics from which you can choose) is supple and soft, a dead ringer for the real thing, for those seeking a similar look and feel.

In addition to sparing our four-legged friends, Fryslie is also pro planet. Refusing to use hides is an excellent—and essential—first step, but she takes her commitment further by producing domestically. Many foreign nations—where 99% of shoes Americans purchase come from—have lax or nonexistent environmental laws. So, she decided it was local or bust. Materials are manufactured in Massachusetts and shoes are assembled in California. Finally, a “Made in the USA” tag you can trust.

In bringing business stateside, Fryslie employs people who lost their livelihoods when cobbling jobs were sent overseas. She works alongside skilled men and women, trained in a trade, who know how to turn out quality product built to last. This also ensures shoemakers are paid a fair wage, while simultaneously preserving an artisan craft, creating what she dubs “pieces of art.”

On top of being 100% vegan, ecological, all-American and economy conscious, these cute—and comfortable—shoes are, as alluded to above, completely customizable. And, for those wondering about the wood, breathe easy: it’s renewable and sourced responsibly.

Fryslie, it seems, thought of everything.

eco fashion

With a number of pledge levels to choose from, there’s something for everyone. For the guy or gal on a budget, donate anywhere from $1 up. Every buck counts, no doubt. But, for someone wishing to make a statement, something unique and sure to attract double takes, spring for a pair of your very own Nicora Johns. Sandals start at $85 and other styles range from $118 to $320, with plenty of package deals on offer as well.

If you’re concerned about cost, fret not. Fryslie has said herself she isn’t out to make a profit, at least not with this specific crowdfunding campaign. Her hope is to build buzz and get fantastic shoes on the feet of fantastic people. People who believe in not only better shoes, but also better business practices. She refuses to operate outside of the United States (for reasons having to do with both labor laws as well as environmental laws) and has remarkably high expectations when it comes to handcrafting your order. She pays her shoemakers fairly and, in turn, customers can expect phenomenal merchandise constructed to survive the passing of time. (Fun fact: prices account for shipping, handling and taxes. Translation: no hidden charges.)

Fryslie is on a mission to change the game, raise the bar and set an industry standard. Hers is an idea that’s just getting off the ground, but it’s gaining momentum and poised to take off. And who wouldn’t want to be a part of that?

Together let’s support this worthy endeavor. Your feet—and Mother Nature—will thank you. 

P.S. The horse in the photo above is Blue Bear, a rescue from a rodeo I am told. Apparently he’s blind in one eye.

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