Founder and designer
I am Evelyne, founder and designer of KUNOKA shoes.
I want to tell you my story from the start and it will get a little personal. I have been in shoe business for many years and I initially worked for Italian houses whose quality products I honored.
However, year after year I saw things change; the business became less lucrative because of overseas competition. Step by step, I noticed that I saw less people in the factories that I visited every year, although sold volumes did not fall back at the same pace. I felt something was not right. I could tell… I know shoes, I know craftsmanship, I know what it should feel like, I know how they should smell…
I had to realize that bit by bit production was outsourced oversees and no one wanted to admit. I started thinking is this what I want to stand for? It kept me out of my sleep and I thought about this for weeks ….
The idea behind the brand
This is the point where I started to play with the idea of creating my own brand that should be fully honest and should have the best possible sustainable approach.
I wanted the environmental impact of my project to be as low as possible and I wanted to be 100% sure that there will be no human cost at my project.
Every KUNOKA shoe is touched by real humans with families and their own set of dreams and I could not bare the idea that someone, somewhere in my project would have to struggle to survive or to feed their children or work in a toxic environment.
This I why I choose to work with a family-owned Portuguese atelier, where I can see what happens, where I know the people and where I can feel and touch every step in the birth of a KUNOKA shoe.
The second advantage of producing nearby is that we exclude the extreme environmental impact of overseas transport. Which brings me to my second concern, environmental impact which is a hard knot to untie in shoe business.
I started by developing different prototypes and I wanted to know everything: what are they made of? Can we not change this into that? What is the effect of this? Where does this sole comes from? What is in the sole? Who makes them? How much water does it cost? How comfortable are they? Can they be modern and beautiful enough? – Hey yes, fashion remains my natural habitat and I don’t want to bring another sustainable brand which’ appearance or comfort aspect makes it obvious that the brand is sustainable.
I went on and on and made everybody – including myself – crazy. I was making progress but there were so many uncertainties and more than once doubt just hit me in the face … Would I ever find the courage to finally jump and officially go for this project?
The last of many signs…
I kept on doubting until the memorisable meeting in New York central park, this was the last of many signs I needed. Gabriella KUNOKA, who I did not know until that day, making a remark about the prototype I was wearing at that moment, convincing me that I should go for this beautiful project! Ever since, I realize every day, what I do might not be perfect, but it is not by finger pointing or complaining and sitting still that we will make progress. It is what I actually do what counts. And this is the whole story, this is how KUNOKA was born.
Always striving for the best
We are not perfect; we – and the entire industry – have a long way to go, but every initiative, how small it might look, makes a difference!
And I am proud of how far we have come and of any difference we can make, I guarantee that I will always strive for the best possible sustainable approach and I promise that this is just the beginning!
Let’s be kind to people and be kind to our world.