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  • Vegan + Eco Fashion | Stephanie Nicora, Founder of Nicora Johns

    by Kortney Campbell on November 16, 2013

    Nicora Johns If you haven’t heard of Nicora Johns Shoes yet, you’re truly missing out. Not only does this Agua Dulce, CA based company produce the cutest shoes I’ve ever seen, but they are also vegan, eco-friendly, and 100% handmade in the USA! I’m not talking outsourced materials put together here…I’m talking down to every last thread was made in America.

    After a fun little game of phone tag this past week, I had the chance to chat with founder Stephanie Nicora and was left completely inspired and even more in love with the company, what they stand for, and of course- their shoes!

    Stephanie-Nicora-Johns

    Meet Stephanie Nicora

    Stephanie is originally from San Francisco, currently living in LA where she runs the day-to-day operations of Nicora Johns. While she started the shoe-making process in her home workshop, the company has evolved significantly. She teamed up with a traditional, father-son owned factory for co-op style production with a core staff of 12 people (and growing)!

    nicora johns life Where She Got Her Start

    This 32-year-old dream-boat has repairing own shoes since age 10. She would thrift beat-up, vintage footwear then take them to small, local shoe repair shops to get them looking brand new. After a while of hanging out in the shops and watching the repairs, she started borrowing supplies, and trying her hand at the trade. Eventually she went on to do an official apprenticeship for more formal training.

    When going through some health complications and being hospitalized for a while, Stephanie’s friend Millicent (the Johns to her Nicora) would often visit her. The two talked about what they wanted to do with their lives, and came to the realization that they both wanted to make shoes. The idea for Nicora Johns was born!

    nicora johns vegan shoes Nicora Johns Work Environment

    As Stephanie began designing, testing and researching materials in her home workshop, she realized just how “messy” the shoe industry really is. Since shoe-making is primarily human labor (as opposed to mechanical), many companies outsource to cut overhead cost leading to ridiculously unfair wages for a trade that takes many years to perfect.

    One of my favorite parts of our conversation was hearing about the work environment they maintain at the factory as well as the appreciation and respect she had for each person working there. Rather than making all of the decisions herself, they work as a team. They have fun, get to know each other and she gets input from each team member on how they can be better.

    Faux Leather Sourcing the Best Vegan and Eco-Friendly Materials

    Another unique aspect of the company is their material sources. Many people see leather as a more “natural” option (as opposed to faux leather), leading to the illusion that it is eco-friendly. However, not only does 1/2 the cost of the cow go towards leather (which we know has a huge negative-impact on the environment), but there are so many chemicals & processes used to make wearable leather (that won’t rot)- including formaldehyde. Side note that she shared: Google “regulations formaldehyde in children’s shoes” and you’ll think twice about putting leather on your little one’s feet

    While leather obviously wasn’t an option, it’s extremely difficult to find quality faux leather that’s manufactured in the United States AND environmentally friendly. In order to ensure she was choosing the best materials possible, Stephanie went above and beyond expectations. She researched the origin not just the fabric, but each and every component of the fabric to ensure she knew where it was coming from and the environmental impact. The manufacturer even runs on primarily solar power!

    Nicora-Johns-Vegan-Boots The Shoes

    Nicora Johns currently offers 15 different options + any customizations imaginable. If you have an idea for a shoe you’ve been dying to have, send it over and they’ll come up with a one-of-a-kind creation!

    Nicora-Future The Future of Nicora Johns

    We can expect to see a store-front in 2014. While it won’t be open every day starting out, the factory show-room will start hosting custom fittings & will have some shoes in stock for on-the-spot-purchasing.

    They are also working on adding to the men’s line. They currently offer the Leroy and take custom orders, but shoe making for men is much more difficult so takes a bit more time to perfect.

    Nicora Johns Stephanie’s advice for anyone starting a handmade, vegan business

     “Don’t cut corners on your integrity. Make sure you know where everything came from.”

    Stephanie is easily one of the most humble and inspiring women I’ve ever had the pleasure of talking to and I’m so thankful to have had the opportunity! Whether you’re looking for every day shoes or a custom creation, she is your girl! Companies like Nicora Johns are bringing fare-wage jobs to our country, without harming our environment and showing the world how incredible vegan fashion can be!

    sally sparkle PS: If you’re wondering which pair of Nicora Johns Shoes are her favorite, it’s the Sparkle Sally’s. They’re made with vintage fabric so there is a limited quantity…13 to be exact…until I ordered mine last night! Merry Christmas to me!

    Have you checked Nicora Johns out yet? Follow her on Instagram for an inside peek at her life as a vegan shoemaker and some amazing discount codes!

    About Kortney Campbell

    I'm Kortney; a wife, natural mama and vegan in love with life, food and all things vintage! I've been vegan since December 2007, but have loved to cook & create pretty things since before I can remember. I started Vegan Housewives because I don't think you have to give up the joys of food when going vegan! I have a fondness for re-creating non-vegan recipes (especially my grandma's), making a healthier & animal friendly version so be sure to send me your favorite concoctions by clicking our "share a recipe" button - I would LOVE to veg-i-fy them!

  • { 2 comments… read them below or add one }

    Jamie Erfle March 16, 2014 at 1:01 pm

    I am so happy I found your site! I also run a similar site called Stepsinstilettos.com – women taking steps towards health (VEGAN). We are very new and would love to pick your brain about how you got started, any tips, and how you get advertisements.
    I look forward to talking!
    Jamie

    Reply

    Kortney Campbell March 17, 2014 at 10:53 am

    Hey Jamie! My biggest suggestion for new bloggers is to post like you have millions of followers, even if you have only one. Once you have the content, traffic will come and advertisers will be there. It’ a lot of hard work, but it’s fun! Also, social media is your friend! It’s such an amazing way to connect with your readers and get your content out there. Good luck!!

    Reply

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