When Aston Baby pivoted from curating gift boxes to trying to create our own shoes, It was a long process that didn’t happen overnight. I knew what I wanted from the shoes – quality, practicality and a classic style but I didn’t know who could make them for me. So here is a little story on who makes our shoes.
Who makes our shoes
My firsts port of call was my own backyard. What would be better than having them made in beautiful Vancouver BC! I could keep a close eye on production, the quality would surely be outstanding and I would be able to cater to the huge market that wants their goods made in Canada. Perfect. But, there were a few hurdles. Firstly, the quality that I was able to find wasn’t up to scratch in local makers. Some little shops have been able to make a more simple moc with starting their own production houses. But I wanted more of a real shoe, just tailored for little feet.
Secondly, the more I talked to people who had produced in Vancouver before, the less I felt sure about it. Yes, the workers may be able to enjoy the beautiful scenery on their lunch breaks but the wages they were paid would no way allow them to have a real ‘living wage’ in Vancouver. Vancouver is known for being incredibly expensive and has a renowned unfordable housing market. Also, many of the workers worked illegally. All in all, I didn’t feel like we would be giving any of these folks an opportunity for success or an opportunity to create better lives for themselves.
Working with China
My next port of call was a familiar one to me. I spent a semester in Hong Kong (in earlier years) studying business in China, had travelled around the country extensively. Also, I had worked for nearly ten years in roles that linked me with the East. Some of my favourite experiences were visiting factories, showrooms and trade shows in China and Hong Kong and working with the individuals there. To many China is a vast place with questionable ethics, but for me, it is a field of familiar faces and tightly regulated businesses who are progressive and able to provide expertise and quality. I reached out to a few possible partners and was able to get samples that surpassed my expectations.
Our partners were chosen based on quality, working rapport and how the team were treated. The goal is to give the people who make our shoes opportunity to create better lives for themselves and their families. My man on the ground there is Stefan (pictured in fancy dress above) and talking with him, here are some reasons he loves his work “I have worked here for more than five years. I met my wife here and we now have a baby together and a been able to buy a house here. Many other are the same as me, it is like a second home here.”
Working with China is not always perfect, but I made the best decision I could to allow individuals to better themselves and work in a happy and safe environment. To help out where we can with our current workers, we are launching the Aston Baby Maternity Fund this year. The fund is available to someone who makes our shoes to help cover the costs of having a child and is available from pregnancy until the child in one year of age.
The picture above is Stefan and his team on a team building day. Those are the folks who make our shoes!