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Years ago we wrote about the Spanish shoe company Pikolinos when they obtained the EU flower label. Since then they have made a stronger statement about their environmental commitment. This summer collection takes their sustainable business approach yet another step further with a brand new collection of sandals, slip-ons and jewellery decorated by Maasai women in Kenya.In a traditional Maasai family, the role of looking after the family and community lies in the hand of the women; they are in charge of building the homes and looking after the children. Traditionally semi-nomadic shepherds, their lifestyle has become increasingly difficult to maintain due to outside influences of the modern world. A new way of earning an income is through selling their colourful jewellery. Pikolino has approached the Maasai community to offer them a commercial and sustainable project, working with their traditional craft. For this project, the Maasai women decorate the Pikolinos shoes with their designs, while gaining a better and more independent living. With this fair traded business model, the shoe company hopes to help to protect the existence of the National Park Maasai Mara in Kenya and raise awareness about the difficulties this culture that is so different to ours is facing.
The actual shoes are still made locally in Elche, Alicante, in the east of Spain, from vegetable-tanned leather, water-based inks, dissolvent-free glues and biodegradable soles. Although the carbon footprint is probably quite high due to the shoes travelling back and forth to Africa, the social aspect cannot be underestimated. Pikolinos even have a "zero paper" policy in their offices, made possible by a special computer program that lets them do all their "paperwork" without.
Apart from the eco-friendly use of materials, the company has committed to other social, cultural and development projects through their foundation Juan Perán-Pikolinos, both locally and internationally. For example, Pikolinos collaborates in Spain with Amacmec, an association for women with breast cancer, as well as globally with UNICEF and other NGOs on projects in Bangladesh, Peru and Niger.