People often say that the first thing you'll notice about someone is their shoes. We couldn't agree more. Shoes tell a story, they'll pull your whole outfit together, or set it off. You can't just walk around looking fresh to death from head to ankle. The shoes will make or break you. With TawiaDesigns, you can never be broken. These handcrafted shoes, designed by creative director Manu, are not only stylist and comfy, but they have purpose. We got a chance to chat with Manu to hear their story behind one of the most globally inspired brands we've ever seen.
So, how did Tawia Designs come about? And when did you all fall in love with your art?
TawiaDesigns officially came about in 2013 after a trip to Ghana. Seeing the incredible local artisans and the beautiful variety of textiles we decided to design shoes that incorporated these textiles and African culture. Seeing that the shoes made people happy as well as create jobs is really what made us fall in love with the whole process of shoemaking.
What does the name Tawia, mean to you?.
The name Tawia embodies the Ghanaian culture. It actually means "one who comes after twins" in the Fante tribe. Our founder, Manu actually comes after twins so it was easily a name that stood out and was different.
Tell us about the non-profit side of your work, why it's so important and how your buyers can help?
Essentially, we want to be a brand that gives back in the form of creating sustainable jobs through the craft of shoemaking. Besides customs collabs, 100% of our raw materials are locally sourced, which helps the local economy. When you buy shoes, you are actually supporting communities within Africa. We also are in collaboration with Growing Power Inc. an urban farm in Chicago that delivers fresh produce to communities that lack access to fresh produce, in which we donate a percentage to when a pair is bought. It's important to know where your money goes when buying a product.
With each shoe created by Tawia Designs being a representation of Tribes throughout Africa, what kind of elements do you pull from each Tribe for your inspiration?.
Yes! There are so many tribes throughout Africa historically, we draw our inspiration from each tribe's various artistic sculptures (mask), clothing, and way of life when coming up with collections. Being able to educate others about these tribes through our collections is pretty cool.
Ideally, what is the long term impact you wish for your brand to have?.
We have a platform to where we have the opportunity to transform situations through our shoes. Creating unique sustainable shoes while building communities slowly and making sure we have long-term commitments with the local communities we work with.