Our designer’s perspective

“I would be happy if I could help build a bridge between sustainability and commerce.” 

We would like to introduce you to Charlotte, our amazing designer. She will explain to you how she already came up with ideas of using products in different ways when she was a kid, how she made jewelry out of cardboard during her studies, and why creating shoes out of waste and being more sustainable is so important to her.

“The reason that I wanted to work with Victor Lou, is because I could feel that Ruben and Carlo are authentic. They really believe that they can make a change in the shoe industry, and their desire to make that change is bigger than their desire to make money. They truly want to create something beautiful and different and I want to be part of that.

My interest in sustainability is going way back. I’ve always been interested in where products were made and where they were going to. And I’ve always been creative with the use of products. I remember that as a kid, my parents called me Missy Different. Not because I was such a strange kid, but because I used all my stuff in a different way. The chair upside down was a tipi tent, a cardboard box became a dollhouse. I always came up with new ideas.

During my studies, I formed an interest in waste products. At that time it was also out of financial consideration. I was roaming around the workplaces to see what kind of waste products I could use. One time I ended up making jewelry out of cardboard and for my graduation I worked on a ‘zero waste’ collection. I designed shoes using the Tangram puzzle pieces and wanted to make them using leather from second-hand couches I found online. So far, I only designed it, but I would love to actually still produce it one day. How cool would it be to reuse these couches? 

However, after my studies, I ended up working in the commercial shoe industry. I gotta say that I’ve learned a lot there and I surely don’t believe commerce is a bad thing, but I did get a wake-up call when I was working there. Every week new prototypes and samples came in that could not be used or sold. I’m not talking about hundreds of shoes a year. I’m talking about thousands of shoes that were going to waste every year, just at this one company alone. That’s what made me decide I wanted to focus on designing sustainable footwear. I really felt that, with my knowledge, I could build a bridge between sustainability and commerce.

So, when I met Ruben and Carlo, I knew we would be a good match. We’ve got the same ideas and values and I guess that’s why we keep moving forward together. Because it definitely hasn’t been easy. There were times I felt like quitting. It felt like all we were doing was problem-solving instead of actually making a difference. However, whenever we talked to each other about it, we had our goals clear again and there was a new energy. And then the small victories were following. To me, it felt like going to Porto to see the factory we are working with, and meeting Pedro (the owner) was the biggest victory. Finding the right people to work with has really been a struggle and with Pedro, it seemed like it all fell into place. I took the train and the bus to get there because I really didn’t want to fly. To make a sustainable product I believe you should try to make all the steps in the process as sustainable as possible, including traveling to factories. When I walked into the factory with Ruben and Carlo, it just felt right.

I remember, walking out after a few hours, I was so incredibly proud of our collaboration, our faith in each other and our perseverance. It might be just a shoe, but it all starts with a single step in the right direction and I feel like we are definitely moving in that right direction. I’m really looking forward to seeing where this is going, but the first victory now would be to see people actually wearing our shoes. I can’t wait for that to happen.“