Here comes the story about why we decided to make barefoot shoes for kids … (and for grown-ups).
It’s 2021, more than 3 years since we started working on Mukishoes, and we are launching our second Mukishoes Kids collection in April. However, while it may seem like it was a long time coming, we actually started dreaming up these shoes long before our brand was born.
During the beginning of our parenting journeys, we slowly but surely came to a realization: there were no suitable shoes for our kids in the market that met our standards of health, comfort, safety, freedom, sustainability and style.
For us, the answer to this problem lay in barefoot shoes, which offer a range of health benefits to adults, helping to ease knee, hip and back pain and even relieve deformations like conjoined toes or bunions, but even more so to kids, most of whom are born with perfectly normal feet and develop all of these issues during their growth stages, due to the restrictions caused by conventional footwear.
Madlen has been a barefoot enthusiast since she remembers. Never being 100% satisfied with the footwear available on the market, she started sewing her own natural barefoot shoes, with thin soles and wide toe boxes.
With all of this in mind, and given Marta’s experience in the textile industry, we set out to create the best barefoot shoes we could, first for adults, as that was admittedly an easier entry point in an industry that is still very tied to concepts, traditions and practices that have ruled it for decades, then for children.
Our vision meant developing a minimalist shoe that we would be proud and confident seeing on the feet of our families and others’. That meant creating a design that was not only functional, with wide toe boxes and paper thin, ultra flexible soles that bend in every direction to promote movement, but also appealing, stylish and foot-shaped. For this, we based our last on actual real feet – those of our own healthy children, in the Kids line.
There is more to our shoe creating process than just the design, though. While most barefoot shoes available on the market still include plastics and chemical substances in their composition, we set out to make high quality footwear that was based on natural, organic and non-toxic materials, often produced in small family farms such as cotton, hemp and Portugal’s own burel wool.
So our plan was to make natural shoes, but also take full advantage of Portugal’s world renowned footwear industry to get the best quality, support local businesses and reduce our environmental footprint. That proved to be a big challenge, as we were faced with deeply-rooted beliefs from shoemakers who sometimes didn’t know anything different than what they did for generations.
But in the end we did find an open minded partner to make our Grown-up barefoot shoes, all while continuing to work on our kids designs and making prototypes, until we felt like we had found our ideal designs and partners in the Summer of 2020, leading us to open pre-sales for the first Mukishoes Kids collection in September of the same year.
While we loved those shoes – and still do – launching this first collection brought many challenges that made us rethink everything we had done so far. Fortunately, we were able to settle those issues and aggregate our production and our product lines.
That is where our focus is now – the present, with the new collection, and the future, when we hope to continue overcoming challenges, building successful partnerships and contributing to improve the quality of life for generations of conscious, healthy, barefoot adventurers – and to celebrate the launch of the three new kids models.
*Quote from Winnie the Pooh by A. A. Milne.