Nicora Johns shoes to bring shoe manufacturing and jobs back to America

Shoemaker/entrepreneur Stephanie Fryslie aims to bring shoe craftsmanship and manufacturing jobs back to America

Shoemaker/entrepreneur Stephanie Fryslie aims to bring shoe craftsmanship and manufacturing jobs back to America

Americans spend around $20 billion each year on footwear. According to the American Apparel and Footwear Association, about 99 percent of all footwear sold in the U.S. is imported.

Americans have gotten used to everything being overseas, says Los Angeles-based shoemaker, Stephanie Fryslie.  But there are no controls, she said.

Leather is over 50 percent of the shoe making process. And, like leather making, synthetic materials produced in developing countries have a chemical component. In fact, the leather industry is on the Top 10 list of most polluting industries in the world!

“It’s an industry that’s not sustainable,” said Fryslie.

Fryslie is spearheading a Kickstarter campaign to bring handcrafted quality shoes to the U.S. with her Nicora Johns footwear. She envisions her company being the first all eco-friendly and cruelty-free shoe company to design, source and manufacture in the United States.

Nicora Johns' footwear is both stylish and all green

Nicora Johns’ footwear is both stylish and all green

Fryslie started tinkering with shoes while still in high school. That eventually led her to an apprenticeship in a shoe factory, which only deepened her love of shoes.

Her love of shoes comes with a deep commitment to being green and to creating more jobs for American shoe craftsmen.

We need more jobs in the U.S., she said.  “The shoe industry is almost all human labor. It’s a real opportunity for creating jobs,” Fryslie said.

The only industries doing well are green industries, she said. “Why can’t we turn the shoe industry into a green industry?”

We would have to retrain in manufacturing, she said. But, said Fryslie, there’s nowhere else in the world lining up to do this.

As an example of what’s possible, Fryslie cited Majilite Corporation, a materials company in New England.

“They’re the greenest in the industry,” she said. They have the largest solar installation of their kind, they’ve reduced 99 percent of their emissions and they get all but one of their materials from here in the U.S., she said. And they’re parallel to what Fryslie’s trying to do.

Fryslie plans to pay American workers a fair wage for their craftsmanship

Fryslie plans to pay American workers a fair wage for their craftsmanship

Majilite has been working on samplings for materials for Nicora Johns’ stylish shoes.

Along with making quality shoes, Fryslie is committed to paying workers a fair wage. She wants the people who are doing the construction to get more credit. This would be built into the cost of the shoes, she said.

“This will make things a little more pricey,” she said, but she also wants them to be affordable.

Fryslie anticipates her shoes will range in price from around $75 to $200. Because retail means a price mark-up, to keep the prices down she may not go into retail in the first year.

Many Americans are used to paying low prices for shoes. The benefits of her shoes are that they’re durable and all green. And buying her shoes will create American jobs, put craftsmen back to work.

“(Let’s) give American made shoes and American shoe makers a chance,” she said.

Fryslie’s Kickstarter campaign runs until August 17th. For details and to support this exciting shoe venture, go to http://kck.st/14WF1QG.

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