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The Original Shandals® Company

by Ruth Emily Davey in Machynlleth, Wales, United Kingdom

We did it
On 12th August 2020 we successfully raised £31,363 with 179 supporters in 27 days

Help us weather the storm of Covid and combat the Chinese fraudulent copies of our handmade Shandals® All Handmade in Machynlleth Wales UK.

by Ruth Emily Davey in Machynlleth, Wales, United Kingdom

I'm Ruth Emily Davey, Shoemaker. 

Im reaching out on Crowdfunder to help me launch my new project - The Original Shandals Co. based in Machynlleth Wales UK, where we make Shandals/Boots/Shoes by hand from our workshop. 

OUR STORY

I am a bespoke Shoemaker and my brand is called RED shoes.  I set up over 10 years ago following my apprenticeship with my mentor - Shoemaker Alan James Raddon when I was 18 (a looooong time ago!) I have spent over a decade building my business (one shoe at a time). I have won several awards and made shoes for people all over the world. I make all my shoes from the back workshop of my shop RED SHOES on the high street in Machynlleth Wales, UK. 

We make our shoes entirely by hand, from high quality leathers, individually crafted to the person. Every single pair is made with love and true dedication. We make them to last and to be repaired from our range of leathers carefully chosen for its silky intuitive movement against the skin and long lasting durability.

We = me and my apprentice Margo Edwards who has been with me for 2 years. 1594480899_1*_vqlu2sk-f9z0mjojmx55q.jpeg

FOOT SHAPED SHOES

We make our shoes to be, very simply, as close to being barefoot - They are; broad at the toe box, allowing your toes to spread out; narrow at the arch and heel to support your foot naturally; flat to allow your posture to be as natural as possible; made from the highest quality full -grain leather/suedes. 

We make full shoes, boots in 3 designs and Shandals® - a unique and very supportive kind of sandal designed to straighten out your toes - the Lace up design being the most popular as it is so supportive. 1594751028_shandals_logo.jpg

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We double out-sole stitch every single pair we make so they are ultra-long lasting. We make them to last and we make them to be fully repairable after decades of wear. 

This pair of buckle Shandals® below is an example of a repair we did after 15 years of wear. 

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My customers vary from the ages of 3 to 93, women and men of all shapes and sizes. Some are Professionals, Therapists, Artists, Doctors, Lawyers, and even the odd opera singer and actress.

..THEN WE FOUND OUT WE WERE BEING COPIED..IN CHINA!

Back in early 2019 a customer got in touch to say she had seen my shoes and Shandals® being sold on a website for $26.. to my horror, she was right! My photos had been stolen off mine and Alan's websites and were being marketed all over the world, on 109 separate websites - to advertise shoddy replicas nothing like those in our images! As many of you may have seen already they are widely marketed on social media and are being sold in their thousands. The websites have been translated into over 22 languages and because they are being manufactured in China we have very limited resources to stop them, being very small-scale self-employed makers. 

As you can imagine this has been very distressing to both myself and my Shoemaking mentor and original creator: Alan James Raddon who has spent over 40 years designing and making Shandals® by hand from his workshop in Aberarth. He designed them originally for a client with bunions to guide the big toe straight. 

SO BEGAN THE ORIGINAL SHANDALS CO..

The silver lining of this discovery was that suddenly I realised there was a huge market out there for ready to wear Shandals®. Customers love them because they are just so good at strengthening your feet. They bring your posture back into alignment. Being originally designed to correct a bunion, they have helped hundreds of our customers to realign their toes. This in turn allows your tendons, ligaments and joints to strengthen and move naturally. This can have a dramatic impact on your whole body. 

We have had people say they are more comfortable than bare feet. I have even  had people cry with joy in my shop when they put them on and suddenly feel grounded and supported. Suddenly, by concentrating on your feet you are valuing your whole body, too. Some people are so converted they just don't wear anything else.  

Shandals® deserve to be acknowledged as a healing shoe and our dream is to continue to create them by hand using the best quality materials and most importantly to continue to help people's feet.

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GOING FROM MADE TO MEASURE TO READY TO WEAR ..

Up to this point Alan and I had been making Shandals® to fit. We would attract customers with problem feet that need correcting and we have been consistently busy with this work because it takes weeks to make them by hand so we can only make one pair at a time.

Quite understandably - some people can't afford or don't want a bespoke lined pair which on average cost about £450 a pair. So, with this in mind we started talking about the possibility of making them on a larger scale - not necessarily manufacturing. We still wanted to make them by hand and not lose the quality so we began to research new thicker leathers and the equipment we would need. In June 2019 an opportunity presented itself in the form of a workshop across the street from my shop in Machynlleth .. without even the hint of a business plan we took the plunge and signed a lease on the new Shandals® Workshop, at no.3 Bank Lane. Then we spent some time building our website shandals.co.uk and last Autumn began training up our first employee Paul, who has been learning how to make the three designs: Slip-on/Buckle and Lace up Shandals®. 

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..AND SO 'THE ORIGINAL SHANDALS® CO.' WAS BORN..

After a LOT of trial and error we decided on our core range using a range of soft supple leathers available in 17 colours. All our leather soles are British tanned. Our replaceable tyre tread soles are made in Spain. 

We put a maker's mark on every pair we make - and we hand sign and date every single pair to prove you are the owner of a real genuine pair of Shandals®.

Then suddenly COVID happened ..

We had some big plans for 2020 - We planned to launch ourselves at various events but then we landed into a full-scale global epidemic! Like everyone else we are a bit unsure what the near future will bring - our little town is quiet, all major events have cancelled and we are all stepping carefully into this new territory as the lockdown gently eases - and that's where YOU come in! ..

  • - Can you help us share our story and bring our project to life?
  • - Can you help with a small pledge to help launch our business and help us survive this turbulent time ? 
  • - If you were already interested in having a pair of Shandals®/Boots made, this is your chance to get a small discount and help us secure our orders for the coming 6 months so we can continue to employ our apprentice.

We are at the very beginning of setting up The Original Shandals® co - we aim to make around 25 pairs a week when we are able to train more makers. At the moment our workshop is lying dormant while we try and afford to advertise our website and buy some core materials. What is in our favour is that we have hundreds of customers, from our bespoke work who believe in what we do - so we are hoping to spread the word throughout our social media platforms and begin taking orders.

SO, WHAT WILL WE DO WITH THE MONEY?

If we are successful we will be able to achieve the following:

*We will be able to bring our dream to reality - to properly launch The Original Shandals® co. and bring back our first employee Paul. We are committed to continue making our Shandals® in the heart of Wales - Machynlleth. 

*We will be able to buy our core materials which means supporting a UK tannery we have been using for many years. The shoe industry in Britain is small but mighty! 

*You will be supporting a very challenged UK company who have a deep commitment to make shoes of quality by hand, designed to last and be repairable in a world where cheap throwaway society has become the norm.

* We will be able to continue to combat the cheap Chinese copies of our Shandals® and continue to spread the word about our little company.

THE REWARDS 

(apart from the fact that you will be bringing our dream to reality..)

Eternal gratitude .. and a free keyring! 1594993684_109929333_201827091248027_8613743216819989812_n.jpg

A Limited Edition Postcard Print 

This is a little Thank-you print, image taken by Manon Houston - a friend of Shandals®/photographer based in Cardiff. 1594480999_red003_copy.jpg

A pair of Childrens lace up Shandals

Made from a colour of your choice, designed for little toes to develop and spread naturally! 

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A Limited Edition 'Origin-AL' T shirt, screen printed, made from Organic cotton, signed by AL. 

We commissioned these t-shirts, made in the UK from Organic Cotton and designed them around the founder of Shandals® signature  - There are only 150 available so grab yourself a collectors T-Shirt.1595971390_origin_al1.jpg

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A pair of our basic Lace up Shandals® made for you.

Take the opportunity to have a pair of our basic Shandals® (that's a unstitched raw edge Shandal® made from 100% British Tanned leather made in our most supportive - The Lace-up design- for a discounted price of £135.

They will be made in your size and sent to you in the post.

We will aim to do this by 31st of August.

If you would like these sent to you by post please add £8.80 as an extra donation so we can send them Special Delivery to you in the UK OR £15 FOR INTERNATIONAL

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A pair of our classic Lace-up/Buckle/Slip-on Shandals® made for you.

Take the opportunity to have a pair of Shandals® made in either a Lace up/Buckle or Slip-on design, made from one of our range of bespoke soft leathers for a discounted price of £165 instead of £175/£195 - Bargain! 

You can choose from 15 colours - Black/tan/dark brown/dublin green/lime green/red/burgundy/Jaffa orange/ dijon yellow/aqua blue/cobalt blue/purple/pink/grey/ivory.

They will be made in your size and sent to you in the post.

We will aim to do this by 31st of August.

If you would like these sent to you by post please add £8.80 as an extra donation so we can send them Special Delivery to you in the UK/£15 FOR INTERNATIONAL

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A pair of Ankle Boots made especially for you.

Take the opportunity to have a pair of our short ankle boots made from our range of bespoke soft leathers for a discounted price of £225 instead of £275!

These are going to be made from a soft, pliable, unlined British tanned leather, designed to work in unison with your feet. 

We will be fulfilling our orders in the autumn so they will be made by the end of October 2020. 

If you would like these sent to you by post please add £8.80 as an extra donation so we can send them Special Delivery to you in the UK/£15 FOR INTERNATIONAL

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A pair of LINED ORIGINAL SHANDALS CO BOOTS

(FULL SUEDE LINING) 

1596699109_img_20200726_132043_520.jpgA pair of the first EVER Limited Edition Welsh Leather Shandals®

We are very excited to be working with the talented Hayley Hansen who makes her leather from her very own herd of cattle. This is the most luxurious super soft leather that is local to us in Wales - just an hour inland from us. This is the very first time we are able to make our Shandals® from WELSH leather, hand dyed naturally - super special!

These extra special Shandals® will be made to your unique feet, fully lined in soft suede with copper/brass eyelets and bespoke matching laces. 

If you would like these sent to you by post please add £8.80 as an extra donation so we can send them Special Delivery to you in the UK/£15 FOR INTERNATIONAL

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Experience: How to make a pair of Shoes yourself. 

For the first time ever we are offering the opportunity to come to our workshop in Machynlleth and make yourself a pair of shoes.

This course will be spread over 2 days and is limited to 3 people per time. Lockdown rules will determine as and when we can set a date - T.B.C1594482490_img-20190917-wa0003.jpg

THE BIG ONE!!

A pair of the FIRST EVER limited edition Welsh leather boots made bespoke, fully lined, with suede interior, British made buckle details and side zip..£650

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Limited Edition ALS Shandals made from Blue Herringbone/cashmere silk Shandals - MADE FOR YOU -£695

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 FAQS:

So.. What is a Shandal®?!

Shandals® are a special form of open footwear designed to strengthen the toes. They are open at the front, closed at the back with a sculpted arch and a low heel. Each pair is made by hand from our workshop in Machynlleth Wales UK. We sign and date them with our makers mark. We make them to last and we repair them when the soles wear down. 

They come in 3 designs - Slip on, Buckle and Lace up. 

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Shandals® are hugely popular because they actively strengthen and heal the feet. We have hundreds of clients all over the world who have found they are just unlike any other shoe or sandal in the world - the comfort is exceptional. 

Shandals® are just so incredibly comfortable. Many have found they help to be stronger and more grounded not just in their feet but their whole body too. 

Their posture improves, they walk better, they feel more grounded. Their hammer toes feel less pressure, their arches become stronger. They feel relief in their bunion. The list goes on.

After years of studying the feet and training as a Reflexologist, I have seen dramatic improvements in those with bunions after they wear Shandals® - When the big toe veers over, this puts pressure on the other 4 toes which can start moving or crossing over, also the arch drops or pronates inwards which can have a knock on effect on your knees, hips and back. This is why the big toe needs to be in alignment, it should be weight bearing and Shandals® help bring your toes back into line.1594743062_baby_'s_foot_and_bunion_copy.jpg

Shandals® are made from a unique soft leather that is designed to move intuitively with the foot. We make them to be broad at the front with a toe post to guide the big toe straight while also allowing the other toes space to spread out. The arch is supported by the uppers and the heel is held firmly into the back of the shoe. 

The sole of a Shandal® is made from a unique 5mm leather sole which is soft and flexible, it takes on the form of your foot so slowly over the years your toes embed into the sole. They just get more comfortable the more you wear them.

This leather sole is tanned in the UK and we then finish them with a tyre tread sole which is 5mm at the front and 8mm at the back so our Shandals® flat to be as close as possible to being barefoot. (We can also make them with a totally flat zero drop sole)

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Who Designed them? 

Shandals® were born in 1992 - created by Shoemaker:Designer Alan James Raddon to help a client suffering with bunions. Shandals® were launched at the Shoe & Sock Awards run by The Council of The Society of Chiropodists at the Kensington Palace Thistle Hotel on the 26th of November 1992.

Alan has been successfully trading for over 30 years and continues to make shoes today, from his home workshop in Aberarth at the age of 76. His deep rooted philosophy of Shoemaking stems from his training in Reflexology with Doreen Bailey and in the belief of strengthening and healing of the feet through wearing comfortable, well fitting footwear, made to the shape of your feet, designed to last for many years and to be repairable.

In 2005 Alan decided in absence of direct beneficiaries to pass on his years of carefully developed skills and philosophy of Shoemaking to take on an Apprentice which I completed in 2010.

Read more about Alan James Raddon here.  

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How can you tell the fakes? 

This photo should give you a good idea! we did a dummy purchase and the toxic chemical plastic smell that came out the bag was the first indication of these inferior copies. 

Last year we discovered to our horror that we had been copied and Shandals® had been manufactured in China. Our photos were stolen from our websites and marketed for a fraction of the price all over social media and pretty much anywhere they can sell. These adverts have been translated into over 108 languages and there are now over 100 websites that market worldwide on all social media Facebook, Amazon, Ebay, Pinterest and Instagram. We keep trying to report them but new ones pop up. Every. single. day. 1594154248_20200408_120244_copy.jpg

We know we are not the first or the last - it happens. But when it happens to you it doesn’t feel like a compliment, it feels like all our hard work is being undercut and undermined by the actions of hungry manufacturers with little regard for the lives and livelihoods of small scale genuine makers who don't have the means to financially defend ourselves. We are self employed makers - we make one pair at a time, we make them with integrity. We make them to last- and we work incredibly hard. 

What a lot of people don't realise is, when they order from these fake sites is what they will get in the post (if and when they actually arrive) is a pair of cheap knock off badly made plastic copies of our Shandals®, made in a factory using most probably slave labour. Outrageous! 

What is the Original Shandals® co?

So alongside our own bespoke work we decided to start The Original Shandals® Co. and we took on a workshop space in the town of Machynlleth. 

We invested in some second hand sewing machines.

We started making. (LOTS of trial and error!)

We took on our first employee Paul at the end of 2019 who began learning how to make the 3 designs - Lace up, Buckle and Slip on. 

We have been making them in stock sizes ranging from Childs size 5 to an adults size 12 including half sizes. 1594153503_img-20191027-wa0027.jpg

Every single pair is made by hand, built to last and to be repairable when they wear down.

What makes your shoes so special? 

Shoes are our natural vehicle for movement and I believe in making shoes that support our natural movement and incredible engineering that is the human foot.

This is our passion and our craft.

We believe in them because we have seen hundreds and hundreds of people walk away in our bespoke shoes and report back how much they have changed their life or helped them feel stronger on their feet. We love what we do because Shandals® heal people. 1594742478_2020255_(1).jpeg

We put love and energy into every single pair we make. 

We make them to last and they are designed to be loved for a lifetime. 

What are your plans for the future? 

In the process of launching The Original Shandals® co. like everyone we have been stopped short in our tracks with the global pandemic going on. Like everyone we are worried about the long term effects on our towns, our economy, our workforces, our communities..

I believe in todays world we need conscientious online shopping. its so easy to buy online without knowing who you are buying from, if there is something to learn from being copied it is that in a flurry of internet shopping, you can choose to buy from the real makers, this helps us to support each other, shop locally where possible and do your research before you buy. The fake sites can be quite sophisticated and even use fake addresses, if there is only an email address on the contact, chances are its a fake site. 

We know buying our Shandals® starting at £155+ is not going to be the top of everyones priority especially right now but we will ask that you please share our story far and wide to help others see the reality of what’s going on, how we must all be vigilant and stop supporting unethical business industries and support handmade.

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Rewards

This project offers rewards in return for your donation.

£155 or more

A pair of Handmade Shandals® made just for you

This reward means you will get to preorder one of our first Limited edition Shandals® made in the colour and size of your choice (standard width) (Buckle/Slipon/Laceup) NORMALLY £175 Lace up/£195 Buckle/slipon

£10 or more

£10 Reward ..with free keyring!

Our eternal thanks and a Shandals co. keyring through the post with gratitude!

£25 or more

An A4 Shandals print taken by Manon Houston

A printed Shandals® in A4 taken by food photographer Cardiff based Manon Houston

£35 or more

£35 Reward Origin-AL T shirt

We are making x150 T shirts from 100% organic Cotton and you could have one of the very first prints! Signed and dated by the originAL - Al Raddon. Available in white/Khaki, unisex fit. includes free postage.

£50 or more

Deposit/A voucher for a friend

A voucher which acts as a deposit towards a pair of Shoes/Shandals®/Boots for a friend to spend on a pair made unique to them.

£65 or more

£65 Pair of Childrens Lace up Shandals

A Pair of lace up shandals made for little feet! made from either red/purple/pink/black/limegreen/dark green/gold/silver/burgundy/yellow

£135 or more

Our Basic Lace up Shandals®

Buy one of our new range of unlined beautifully soft tan Lace up Shandals®, 100% British Tanned leather - unstitched raw edges, made to last and be repairable. If you would like these sent to you by post please add £8.80 as an extra donation so we can send them Special Delivery to you in the UK/£15 FOR INTERNATIONAL

£225 or more

A pair of our handmade Boots made just for you!

A pair of our handmade boots made in the colour/design of your choice, NORMALLY £275! All leather, made to last and repairable. We will make your boots just in time for Autumn - and post them to you on or before 29th September 2020

£435 or more

A pair of Fully lined bespoke leather Shandals®

Normally our bespoke work costs upwards of £450+ but we can make you a pair completely bespoke and fitted for £435 all hand cut, rolled edges with a full suede lining in a colour of your choice. If you would like these sent to you by post please add £8.80 as an extra donation so we can send them Special Delivery to you in the UK/£15 FOR INTERNATIONAL

£445 or more

The original Shandals co LINED BOOT

Lots of people have asked whether they can have lined boots as they prefer the soft supple leathers with a full suede lining. If that's you then these are for you!

£450 or more

6 of 50 claimed

A pair of the very first WELSH Leather Shandals®

We are very excited to announce we are working with Hayley Hansen who makes leather from her very own herd in Brecon Wales - These are extra special because not only will you be supporting our little enterprise, these Shandals® will also be the first EVER limited edition Welsh leather we have ever worked with, and if thats not enough these pairs will be super soft, luxurious and hand dyed to a colour of your choice, made bespoke to you.

£500 or more

2 of 6 claimed

EXPERIENCE :Learn to make yourself a pair of Shoes

Be one of the very first people people to come to our workshop and learn how to make yourself a pair of shoes - entirely by hand with one to one tuition. This course will be spread over 2 days (Coronavirus rules permitting) in 2020 or 2021 depending on visiting schedules in Wales.

£650 or more

2 of 5 claimed

THE BIG ONE - FIRST WLESH BOOTS MADE FOR YOU!

First ever Welsh Leather boots and hand dyed with side zip detail and brass fastening details.

£695 or more

0 of 5 claimed

Cashmere/silk lace up Shandals MADE BY AL

This reward means you will get Al's extra special tender loving care in making you a pair bespoke to your feet.


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