A shopper in Little Italy. Courtesy Little Italy Association

Since I was a child, I have appreciated handmade things. I lived in Mexico until I was a teenager and my grandmother hand-sewed all of my clothes.

Love and care went into everything she made, and when I decided to start my own business, I knew I wanted to bring that same care and craftsmanship to my product.

I started Kallie & Co. shoe company because I saw a gap in the industry. I noticed that in the United States, fair trade and slow fashion are not widely known and appreciated concepts.

Our shoes are ethically made, and what I love most is that I get to tell my customers they are shopping with a purpose.

When you buy a pair of Kallie & Co. shoes you are providing jobs for artisans in Mexico, where I’m from, and for my stateside team who, like myself, are military spouses. I also share videos, testimonials, and images on Instagram from previous customers so that current and future customers can connect with our mission.

Unfortunately, most consumers don’t think about how their clothing and shoes are made, which often comes at a great cost to workers. And while goods produced this way can be made quickly and cost less (and are often referred to as “fast fashion”), the reality is that the working conditions are inhumane to people and harmful to the planet.

We can do better.

During this holiday season, I encourage San Diegans to find brands that are truly ethically sourced. A simple hashtag search on Instagram or Facebook can bring up numerous small, local businesses that produce with a purpose.

Nadia Martinez is CEO and founder of Kallie & Co., a not-just-for-profit shoe manufacturing company based in Southern California.


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Ellen Bullock